RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of activists, who have been fighting to end dog experiments at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, carried signs Wednesday that read “Stop Killing Dogs” in protest of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie’s decision to reauthorize the controversial experiments. 

Earlier this month, Wilkie announced he would allow the controversial canine research to continue, despite state and federal legislation to end it. 

Wilkie said he loves dogs but his job is focused on making life better for those who have borne the battle. Secretary Wilkie believes the research can lead to medical breakthroughs. Canine research is responsible for the 1960’s invention of the pacemaker. 

Prior to Wilkie’s announcement, 8News uncovered McGuire is still buying puppies for research into cardiovascular disease. 8News learned of four active experiments at the Richmond VA hospital.

In many cases, the dogs do not get anesthesia or pain relief and all are euthanized at the end of the experiments. 

Protesters outside of McGuire spoke with 8News on Wednesday.

“How they can help our vets now is to make sure that they have adequate medical,” Phillip Ramirez said, “to make sure they get their checks on time, to make sure that they are taken care of and don’t have to wait a month to have a doctor’s appointment. And the way these dogs can do better for the service and for McGuire is to make them into service dogs.”

A bill in Congress called the Puppers Act could overrule Wilkie’s decision. The Puppers Act has support from more than 100 lawmakers.  

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