The Veterans Affairs Department must report to Congress details of its research studies using dogs and other animals, including how many animals died during the experiments, under new language attached to a spending bill the House passed late this week.
The new reporting requirements come in addition to a unanimously House-passed ban on VA testing that causes pain to dogs.
“The [Appropriations] Committee is concerned by recent reports of medical experimentation on dogs at VA research facilities, which are being reviewed by the VA inspector general,” the language states. “While the Committee values the innovative and groundbreaking medical research occurring at VA medical facilities, it believes that all animal experimentation should be conducted with strict adherence to animal welfare laws and regulations.”
The language requires the VA to submit a report to Congress that describes the number of VA research studies using animals compared to the total number of VA research projects, the number of animals by type used in VA research projects, and the number that were euthanized or failed to survive the experiments. The VA must submit the report to Congress 90 days after the bill becomes law.
Lawmakers also approved a provision that would prohibit the VA from spending any taxpayer money on dog experiments and attached it to a bundled group of four must-pass national security appropriations bills, including one that funds the VA.
The Senate is expected to take up the appropriations bill this fall and send it to the president’s desk for his signature.
Reps. Dave Brat (R., Va.) and Dina Titus (D., Nev.) wrote the language after learning about reports of experimentation on dogs at VA facilities across the country, including the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., where he said animals were given amphetamines that caused induced heart attacks.
“The experiments being conducted at the McGuire VA hospital in Richmond are horrific and inhumane,” Brat said after the language passed the House. “Alternative and kinder medical testing methods exist that do not require hurting and killing puppies.”
He also said the dog-testing experiments at the VA are consuming limited taxpayer dollars, medical staff time, and office space that “could be better utilized to deliver health care for veterans.”
“The VA’s priority should be caring for our veterans, not harming man’s best friend,” he added.
The Los Angeles VA Medical Center halted planned tests on narcoleptic dogs last month after Congressional and media scrutiny, but four other VA facilities around the country are continuing experiments on dogs.
The taxpayer watchdog the White Coat Waste Project first exposed the painful experiments on dogs taking place at VA facilities. The vote comes just two days after another VA whistleblower came forward with evidence of waste and abuse in a VA dog lab. An Iraq war veteran at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond earlier this week said more than 100 dogs are “set to die” in forced heart attacks and other painful cardiac arrests.
White Coat Waste President Anthony Bellotti applauded Brat, Titus, and the House for taking “bold, bipartisan action to defund nightmarish dog abuse and restore accountability at the VA.”