Abusive dog testing banned one more year at VA

Jonathan Kaupanger
June 19, 2018 - 3:15 pm

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Dogs and puppies are safe from painful animal testing at Veterans Affairs, at least for one more year! 

In the past puppies’ had drills taken to their heads, part of their brains were then scooped out and electrodes added to see what parts of the brain control breathing.  In another medical center, latex was injected into coronary arteries of dogs, then they were forced to run on treadmills until they had a heart attack.

An extension of restrictions for VA’s animal testing program from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 –commonly referred to as the Omnibus Appropriations – has been approved by the House of Representatives.  If signed into law later this year, this means that through 2019, not a single penny of federal funding may be spent on canine experimentation at VA unless the secretary signs off on the testing personally.

 “As far as we know, no project – either existing or new – have been approved by the secretary since this law as passed in March,” said White Coat Waste Project’s Vice President for Advocacy and Public Policy Justin Goodman.  “Despite the positive progress that has been made on this issue, a problem that we continue to encounter, is a horrible lack of transparency at VA.  A failure to answer basic questions about what they’re doing.”

Goodman and his organization have submitted several different records request to see where things stand today. Since the passage of the law in March, they’ve been told by VA that projects that were happening have been put on hold and have not been approved to continue.  

Unless a law is passed between now and 2020, Congress will need to reapprove these restrictions next year.  Goodman isn’t concerned about this just yet as there is growing interest in Congress to keep the limits in place.  “This is something that has wide bipartisan support,” he says.

Part of that support can be found in the PUPPERS Act. The Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act was originally introduced in 2017 following a complaint that was filed against the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA medical Center in Virginia.  Since then, PUPPERS has received more than 80 bipartisan cosponsors, including at least 10 veterans in Congress.

“We’re happy this has been implemented and will continue to champion,” says Goodman.  “While we’re incredibly pleased and encouraged by the progress that this has made, we do want to ensure that this policy is codified forever and are working with Congress on a permanent solution.”

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