An ongoing investigation into the controversial medical experiments on dogs by the Department of Veterans Affairs highlights the surgical failures and inhumane deaths of animals being used in research projects at a VA facility in Virginia. The experiments have become so cruel Congress is being called upon to defund the practice completely.
According to USA Today, more rigid criteria will be implemented for the invasive experiments involving at least 300 dogs including Beagle puppies no more than six-months of age. The surgical procedures include operating on the brains, spines and hearts of the dogs – all dogs will be killed at the completion of the research. For now, however, VA veterinary officials will have to approve surgery, and scientists will review the experiments more rigorously stated Michael Fallon, the VA’s chief veterinary medical officer, after the recent deaths of four dogs deemed improperly treated.
Double amputee and bomb technician Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., and other House members unanimously passed legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding for questionable VA research that causes dogs significant pain and distress. In addition, the Puppers Act has been introduced to stop federal funding for these experiments permanently.
In July, the House eliminated funding for such research, however the VA is pushing back hoping to convince veterans to persuade senators not to pass the measure. VA Secretary David Shulkin contends experimenting on dogs will save lives. Opponents, however say the research is decades old and doesn’t apply to humans, nor is the VA taking into account alternative sources of experiments besides dogs.
“The VA is abusing its authority and fear-mongering to defend taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs that are cruel and unlikely to help veterans or anybody else,” said Justin Goodman, vice president of White Coat Waste Project, an advocacy group that wants to permanently end government funding for the projects.
The following are some of the experiments performed on dogs. Although protocol called for these experiments to be done on adult dogs, many of the Beagles involved were between six and nine months of age:
In Milwaukee, VA researchers experimented with dogs to decrease pain without slowing breathing. Dogs were sedated and parts of their brains were removed to cause a complete loss of consciousness and sensation. Then tests were performed on neurons in the dogs’ brains. After the experiment the dogs are killed.
In Cleveland, VA, dogs spinal cords were severed to mimic human injuries. Researchers studied ways to restore cough functions and placed the dogs under anesthesia and used electrodes at high frequency to stimulate various places on the severed cords to induce coughing. The dogs were then killed.
In Richmond, VA, researchers are seeking therapies for heart disease. Pacemakers are implanted in the dogs and then they are run on treadmills and used in other experiments to induce irregular heartbeats, heart attacks and blocking their arteries with latex. After the experiments the dogs are killed either by injection or draining their blood. As a result of these experiments, four dogs died painful and inhumane deaths – showing inadequate care and “deviations from approved study procedures.”
The National Institutes of Health have acknowledged, “animal models do not mimic disease and how drugs will perform in humans. Chimpanzee research has ended, as there are more available technologies that are more humane, more accurate and less expensive than using dogs. Even the military has moved away from using live animals in their trauma medical training. Recently the United States Coast Guard announced it has suspended live tissue training programs.
In the US News, a recent Pew poll, shows 80 percent of Americans stating they do not trust lawmakers in Washington to do the right thing on most issues. And 75 percent of Americans oppose experiments on dogs, according to a national poll by Lincoln Park Strategies. Dogs are cherished members of our families, partners to disabled servicemen and women and provide comfort and love to many of our brave soldiers who have returned from war.
Read more at the White Coat Waste Project.
“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plans to KILL 118 puppies in heart attack and treadmill experiments. Help us fight back where it matters: Congress.
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