Main content

The Curious Incident of the Brown Dog

Episode 7 of 10

Ellie Cawthorne on the infamous Brown Dog Riots of 1907, when anti-vivisectionists fought students in a row over how medical students are trained.

The seemingly innocuous statue of a small dog, in Battersea Park in London, was the focus of some of the most vocal and violent anti-vivisection protests. Ellie Cawthorne explores the infamous Brown Dog Riots, when anti-vivisectionists fought students in a row over the methodology of training medical students.

On 10 December 1907, 1,000 medical students marched through London waving effigies of a brown dog, clashing with suffragettes, trade unionists and police. The protest was triggered by allegations that, in February 1903, William Bayliss of the Department of Physiology at University College London cruelly performed an allegedly illegal dissection, before an audience of 60 medical students, on an inadequately anaesthetised brown terrier dog.

This was just one of the series of infamous and influential Brown Dog riots which continued over seven years. They changed the shaped of scientific education and research, and transformed how medical students are trained.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
Series Producer: Nick Baker
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

15 minutes