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By Jonah Bennett
Republican Virginia Rep. Dave Brat and Democratic Nevada Rep. Dina Titus introduced a bill Wednesday to limit dog experiments at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bill, called the Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act (PUPPERS Act), aims to block any medical experiments that cause pain or distress to dogs.
According to the text of the bill, which amends Section 703 of title 38 in the United States Code, “In carrying out research, the Secretary may not purchase, breed, transport, house, feed, maintain, dispose of, or experiment on dogs as part of the conduct of any study that causes significant pain or distress.”
The bill comes shortly after The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on a VA Office of Research Oversight investigation, which uncovered cases of abuse and oversight failures at the Hunter Holmes McGuire medical center. ORO conducted an in-depth investigation into the medical facility from April 18-21 and found there was a stunning lack of documentation about whether animals “received supporting care.”
As noted by the ORO report, “Some animal medical records provided insufficient documentation to demonstrate if dogs with health problems were consistently evaluated by a veterinarian, consistently received appropriate care, or were appropriately observed for signs of health problems.”
This year the Office of Research Oversight at the Department of Veterans Affairs found evidence of extensive violations of federal animal welfare regulations, internal policies, and research protocols at the McGuire VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Richmond, Va. In June, these findings were published in an internal report made public by a Freedom of Information Act request.
“The revelations regarding the dog laboratory testing at McGuire VAMC are disturbing and the descriptions are almost on the scale of torture,” Brat said in a statement. “We must have quality health care for our veterans and the best medical research, but I believe there are alternative and more humane methods that can lead to similar medical breakthroughs.”
“With my colleagues in the House and devoted advocates, I have helped expose cruel and outdated experiments on dogs at VA facilities in Los Angeles, Richmond, and other locations around the country,” Titus said. “This legislation will help end those inhumane programs once and for all by ensuring that taxpayers do not foot the bill for purchasing, breeding, transporting, and disposing of dogs. Passing this bill will benefit both our veterans and our four-legged friends.”
So far, the Los Angeles VA has stopped upcoming experiments on narcoleptic dogs in response to pressure, but research is continuing on as usual at other facilities.
Aside from legislative action, military veterans along with the White Coat Waste Project have launched a petition asking VA Secretary David Shulkin to fully end dog experiments. The petition has reached 83,000 supporters.