RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Department of Veterans Affairs and lawmakers are speaking out after the House voted to ban medical testing on dogs at VA hospitals. The testing has been funded in part with your taxpayer money.
8News Investigative Reporter Kerri O’Brien first exposed the deadly dog experiments at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond.
“In short, my amendment will stop funding for painful dog experiments at the VA,” explained Rep. Dave Brat, who sponsored the amendment.
Brat’s amendment to the federal defense spending bill passed unanimously.
“The bill puts in a clear limit, so no causing pain and suffering to animals,” he added.
The move comes just two days after whistleblowers at McGuire shared inside knowledge with 8News of the dog testing.
“You can tell they are like scared of you, very nervous, distraught, uncomfortable,” employee Todd Woessner told 8News.
Records show the Mcguire research is centered around treating heart disease. As part of the dog testing, the canines undergo surgeries and are implanted with pacemakers. They are then forced to run on tread mills until they collapse or suffer a heart attack. Most of the dogs are killed.
“They’re actually torturing these dogs,” Brat said.
But the VA’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Michael Fallon, told 8News in a statement that, “if efforts to stop animal research are successful, it also puts a stop to advances that could save or change the lives of our veterans and the nation as a whole.”
Congressman Brat sees it differently.
“I think they can find less invasive ways of doing this research,” the congressman said.
It’s important to note the house amendment is good for only one year and only cuts federal funding — not taxpayer funding — for the research.
8News has exposed some of the money for the dog experiments at McGuire comes from the American Heart Association.
8News reached out to see if the association will continue to support the deadly dog tests. A spokesperson tells us their current research agreement with McGuire funds the research through June of 2019, but in a statement said, in part, “the American Heart Association’s Research Committee will monitor the legislative situation and discuss any implications for our research funding program in the future.”
The spending bill still needs to be taken up by the senate.
Meanwhile, Congressman Brat says he will still be pushing for PUPPERS ACT. which would prohibit the department of veterans affairs from using dogs in painful research projects.