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Fatal dog experiments moving ahead despite criticism from U.S. Congress, veterans groups

The issue started gaining traction with lawmakers in spring 2017, when an advocacy group, White Coat Waste Project, released documents showing VA researchers in Richmond had botched surgeries on dogs.

DONOVAN SLACK: ‘The Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing forward with invasive and ultimately fatal experiments on dogs as part of the VA’s medical research program, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY. The controversial procedures previously sparked outrage and opposition from some veterans’ advocates and prompted strict restrictions from Congress. The VA says the studies could produce discoveries that may help veterans suffering from spinal cord or breathing problems.

In Milwaukee, the experiments call for researchers to remove sections of dogs’ brains to test neurons that control breathing before the animals are killed by lethal injection, research records show. In Cleveland, tests involve using electrodes on dogs’ spinal cords to measure cough reflexes before and after severing the cords. In Richmond, Virginia, experiments include implanting pacemakers in dogs, then inducing abnormal heart rhythms and running the animals on treadmills to test cardiac function before euthanizing them by injection or draining their blood…

The issue started gaining traction with lawmakers in spring 2017, when an advocacy group, White Coat Waste Project, released documents showing VA researchers in Richmond had botched surgeries on dogs… Within months, the House unanimously passed legislation to defund the experiments, but the measure stalled in the Senate after VA officials launched a public campaign to stop it… In March, [former VA secretary David Shulkin] ordered that all ongoing studies be reviewed by VA research executives… Still, the VA recently commissioned a $1.3 million study overseen by the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the need for dogs as research subjects…

Revelations that the tests are set to continue under new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie are sure to trigger a fresh round of debate… White Coat Waste Project, the group that started the campaign to end the experiments, says they should be suspended until the study is completed. “I think it calls into question the integrity of the VA’s intentions if it is going to continue funding and conducting dog experiments that it has just paid an organization over a million dollars to scrutinize,” said Justin Goodman, the vice president of advocacy and public policy for the organization’. SOURCE…

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