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Animal Rights Group: Review of V.A. Dog Research Long Overdue

The VA has allowed research on animals in order, it says, to improve the health of humans and animals. (skeeze/Pixabay)
The VA has allowed research on animals in order, it says, to improve the health of humans and animals. (skeeze/Pixabay)
December 17, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Research on dogs by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is officially under review to determine whether the dogs are being treated humanely and if the program is necessary.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is conducting the review after the advocacy group White Coat Waste Project launched a massive media campaign in 2017. It used information from public records requests to spotlight what it called "the mistreatment of puppies in painful heart attack studies."

The campaign caught the attention of a bipartisan group of lawmakers which introduced the PUPPERS Act in Congress to outlaw unkind and painful dog experiments in VA facilities. Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy with the White Coat Waste Project, said there is already overwhelming evidence that the research isn't needed.

"The facts are clear that the VA admits that it hasn't had a breakthrough from its dog testing since the 1960s,” Goodman said. “A government program that's failed to produce for half a century does not deserve taxpayer support, particularly when it involves torturing dogs to death."

The VA's Animal Research Program website claims studying animals is the only scientifically viable way to achieve some knowledge to improve human and animal health. The PUPPERS Act was introduced in the House Veterans Affairs committee with 101 co-sponsors.

Cindy Buckmaster chairs the nonprofit Americans for Medical Progress, which supports the need for animal research. She said she welcomes the review as a means to engage in dialogue about future research based on facts instead of emotions, which she said cloud the truth.

"If dogs are truly relevant critical models for the study of diseases that impact both dogs and people, then that needs to be considered when people make decisions about whether or not they want to remove them from science, right?” Buckmaster said. “I mean, so, that's critical, that's what I would like. What I would like is for a very thorough objective review of the facts. "

The VA commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to review its entire canine research program, at a cost of $1.3 million.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD