VA cancels dog experiments in L.A.

(WRIC)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is now stopping medical testing on dogs at a VA hospital in Los Angeles after a whistleblower came forward with concerns and photos.

Those photos were shared with the Daily Mail and White Coat Waste Project, an animal rights group first to raise ask questions about the taxpayer-funded experiments on canines. You’ll remember 8News exposed dogs were killed in medical research projects at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond

In April, the Office of Government Accountability opened an investigation. The Los Angeles hospital says its research would have involved drugging dogs and later euthanizing them. But now, they’ve canceled that study.

Here’s the full statement from the LA VA:

“Research conducted at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) contributes significantly to improving the lives of Veterans and the long-term quality of health care for all Americans. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) animal research is strictly controlled and monitored with accountability mechanisms in place that comply with the same regulations and standards that university programs and state, private, and military organizations employ.

Currently, there are three (3) naturally-narcoleptic dogs in our colony, which is housed under conditions that meet the highest standards and include regular access to large grassy enclosures where they play with each other and the staff daily. A research proposal for breeding and studying these dogs was approved through VA’s Merit Review and the national Office of Research and Development recently. It would have involved giving therapeutic doses of the drugs used to manage narcolepsy in humans, and would have required euthanasia; however the researcher has no current plans to breed further and it is expected the study will not be done. None of the animals in this colony have been euthanatized for research purposes for a number of years, and none of the animals in the colony have experienced distressing procedures or been given drugs that cause uncomfortable symptoms.

VA and VAGLAHS realize this is a very sensitive issue, but we also know that it would be unethical to expose humans to the risks associated with test treatments that have not been thoroughly studied first in animals, or to refuse to do the research that is necessary to reduce human suffering. We keep detailed records of all of our research projects, and follow strict policies and procedures for making sure that the welfare of the animals we studied is appropriately respected.”

With news of the canceled experiments in LA, Virginia Congressman Dave Brat is raising questions of the medical testing at McGuire. He told 8News, “if these fatal experiments on healthy puppies are in fact taking place with poorly documented medical benefits for veterans, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill.”

Here’s Brat’s full statement:

“I am deeply concerned by the disturbing revelations regarding the dog laboratory testing at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond. I believe we must provide the best possible medical care for our veterans. However, if these fatal experiments on healthy puppies are in fact taking place with poorly documented medical benefits for veterans, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. My office will work with appropriate oversight authorities to investigate these alleged abuses and get to the bottom of what is happening. We have also contacted the House Veteran Affairs Committee to explore whether legislative action is appropriate.”

In addition, Congresswoman Dina Titus from Nevada added, “It is time the Richmond VA and others follow the lead of their counterparts in Los Angeles.”

Titus full statement:

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to end these cruel and outdated experiments in Virginia and elsewhere across the country.  Doing so benefits veterans and animals.” — Dina Titus

8News asked the VA today if there are any plans to end the research here in Richmond. Our calls and emails were not returned.

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