VA's been testing on animals for years. There's finally a plan to find them homes.

Jonathan Kaupanger
August 03, 2018 - 10:31 am

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Animals used in VA’s research projects no longer have to live out their lives in a lab.  After months of pressure from lawmakers, Veterans Affairs has a plan to adopt out animals the agency uses in its research labs. 

Connecting Vets has reported on VA’s painful animal testing in the past. In some tests, puppies had holes drilled in their heads, then parts of their brains scooped out. In other labs, latex was injected into a dog's arteries, then they were forced to run on a treadmill until they dropped.  

Most recently the Consolidated Appropriations Act was announced. In part it limits the funding VA uses on canine experimentation, unless the secretary of VA signs off on the testing personally.

Last year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent then VA Secretary David Shulkin a letter, requesting VA come up with an adoption policy and at the same time pointing out that veterans “could be ideal beneficiaries of such a program.”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) signed the letter requesting adoption information from VA.  “In the last year, my colleagues and I have made remarkable progress towards eliminating painful and unnecessary dog testing at the VA,” Titus says.  “I am pleased to see that the VA has now released the first-ever federal policy encouraging the adoption of dogs and other animals when they’re no longer needed in research. I will continue to ensure that the VA follows through on its commitment to completely end cruel experiments on dogs.”

The adoption policy fits the standards commonly used by many animal rescue groups.  VA is now required to track information about the temperament and health of its research animals.  In addition, research programs involving dogs now need to have leash training and socialization built in to make sure the dogs are compatible with people and other animals. 

“Taxpayers bought the dogs, cats and other animals locked in VA’s nightmarish labs, and we want Uncle Sam to give them back,” says Justin Goodman, Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy at White Coat Waste Project.  “Thanks to bipartisan leadership from veterans in Congress like Ted Lieu and Brian Mast, the VA’s widely-opposed painful puppy testing has been slashed and animals who survived these and other abusive experiments can be freed.”

Late last year, VA and the Humane Society of the United States announced a partnership to build programs and networks between VA medical centers and local community animal adoption organizations.  The goal is to link veterans with animals that are ready for their furever home.

You can read VA’s Adoption of Research Animals policy here. 

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