Bill banning Virginia tax dollars for animal research passes first test

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill that would prohibit your tax dollars from funding painful medical research on dogs and cats passed its first hurdle in the General Assembly Thursday.

“We are throwing down a policy statement that says, look, you’re not going to use taxpayer money,” said Senator Bill Stanley speaking before the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

The Senate committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill that would ban the use of the state’s general funds for medical research harming dogs or cats.

“You may recall this summer if you saw the news, that at the VA McGuire Medical Center, painful dog experiments where the dogs are subjected to cruel, unusual and depraved pain for long periods of time,” said
Stanley Republican from Virginia’s 20th District.

Senators Stanley and Glen Sturtevant introduced the legislation after 8News exposed the Commonwealth had been partly funding deadly dog experiments at McGuire VA hospital. In these experiments, the dogs are surgically implanted with pacemakers, made to run on treadmills until some have a heart attack. All of the dogs are eventually euthanized.

Several spoke in favor of the bill including the Humane Society, the Richmond SPCA and the taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project.

“The Richmond VA is the only institution in recent history that has been conducting column E experiments, maximum pain experiments,” said Justin Goodman with the taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project referring to a category research grade used by the USDA.

Even VCU which has professors and funding connected to the experiments said they didn’t mind the legislation.

“We do believe we have come to what we would call a workable compromise,” said Annie Morris with VCU.

The only opposition came from the Virginia Farm Bureau which raised some concerns that the bill might be too broad.

“We are not necessarily trying to kill the bill but we do have some concerns with the definition of medically unnecessary,”  said Martha Moore with the Virginia Farm Bureau

Notably not present at the hearing was McGuire or the VA.

The bill now heads to the Senate finance committee.

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