Influential support is quickly mounting for WCW’s campaign to end painful and wasteful dog experiments at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, Virginia’s newspaper-of-record, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, published an editorial in support of Richmond-area Congressman Dave Brat’s (R-VA) bipartisan PUPPERS Act to defund painful VA dog experiments. Richmond has been ground zero in this campaign because of the VA’s painful and abusive heart attack experiments on puppies there and recent whistleblowers.
If you haven’t yet, please urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation.
July 24, 2017
Virginia Rep. Dave Brat is something of a lightning rod, and we’ve not always seen eye-to-eye with him ourselves. But the 7th District congressman deserves a pat on the back and an “Attaboy” for introducing a bill to limit medical testing on dogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bill was prompted by disturbing reports of animal abuse at McGuire VA Medical Center here in Richmond. A report by the VA’s Office of Research Oversight (ORO) says some of the allegations, such as those regarding documentation, appear to be incorrect. But others, including induced heart attacks, the failure to provide post-operative care, the inconsistent provision of painkillers, and “procedures with unrelieved pain and distress” were confirmed.
To its credit, McGuire already has suspended one researcher’s authority to work with animals, and it appears to have undertaken numerous corrective steps to address some of the issues raised in the ORO report. But that does not settle the issue. “The reports I read about were almost on the scale of torture,” Brat has said, suggesting more humane methods could advance medical science just as well.
And the issue goes beyond McGuire. A December letter from 13 members of Congress, including Virginia Rep. Don Beyer, to the comptroller general says “we have discovered it is impossible to determine what federal animal research programs currently entail, what they cost and if they meet federal standards because of the limited and decentralized information available publicly. Federal agencies are not currently required to publicly report their total use of animal research, do not publish noncompliance reports and generally do not maintain searchable databases of animal research projects with information about their purpose, methods, results, and cost.”
We do not side with those animal-rights extremists who would put an end to all animal research everywhere. But it should always be a last resort, and as limited as possible — with as much care taken as possible to reduce pain and stress. Brat’s legislation makes a good first step in that direction.