The VA is still testing on dogs and VSOs are not happy about it

VSOs convince the VA secretary that spending funds on animal testing is not money well spent.

Jonathan Kaupanger
January 17, 2018 - 12:13 pm
VA Tests on Dogs

(Photo by Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Sipa USA)

The VA continues to conduct invasive testing on dogs. Connecting Vets originally reported on this last year and now VSOs are adding more fuel to the flame.

VA’s Secretary, Dr. David J. Shulkin, wrote an opinion piece on the subject in USA Today last year as well.  In the article, Shulkin stated that the VA had “strong support of veterans groups…”on the subject, however that support is eroding fast.

In his piece, the Secretary stated that “canine research is necessary, and actually represents the only viable option for developing and testing new treatments for some medical problems.”

Fighting that statement is founder, Air Force veteran Benjamin Krause.  “VA has failed to name a single veteran-focused medical advancement that has ever resulted from dog testing in nearly 100 years of VA research,” said Krause.  “Spending taxpayers’ money on unproductive programs like this is inexcusable when so many veterans are still fighting with VA to obtain the basic medical care and health benefits that they deserve.”

Rep. Dina Titus from Nevada and her bipartisan effort to stop the VA’s unnecessary experiments on dogs, echoes that taxpayer money should be spent in other places. “Our nation’s veterans deserve better than having the VA spend taxpayer’s money on cruel and ineffective experiments on dogs when there are other proven treatment methods available.”

One of the “other proven treatment methods” Rep. Titus is talking about is the organ-on-a-chip. This technology simulates the lung, heart, kidney and arteries so that tests can be conducted without subjecting animals to stressful environments.

“We are writing to express our support for your work to curtail wasteful and unnecessary dog experimentation at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Military – Veterans Advocacy in a letter to Rep. Titus.  “The VA is expending significant time, money, staff, research space and other resources to conduct and defend questionable dog experimentation that is opposed by most veterans, ineffective and has little to do with service-related disabilities.  VA’s dog experimentation does not align with current veterans’ health priorities or VA’s legislative mandate to focus its research on service related illnesses and injuries.”

The most recent VSO to stand up to the VA on this subject is Veterans for Common Sense.  “The VA’s unconscionable and unnecessary dog research squanders resources needed to provide veterans with the healthcare and disability benefits they’ve earned,” said VCS National Board Chair and gulf War and Somalia veteran Anthony Hardie.

Lawmakers are starting to come around on this issue as well. Last year, Titus and Rep Dave Brat introduced the PUPPERS Act.  Since then, the “Brat Amendment” was added to the Making America Secure Appropriations Act of 2018, which would defund the VA’s dog testing experiments.

Most recently, Florida Republican Brian Mast said it best: “As a combat-wounded veteran, it’s alarming that the VA is spending taxpayers’ money abusing dogs in unnecessary experiments when veterans are still unable to get the treatment and are they need. I’m proud that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my legislation to defund these wasteful and cruel dog tests and am grateful for the support of organizations representing veterans.”

Right now, the VSO’s that support defunding and ending these experiments include VetsFirst, The Retired Enlisted Association, American Military Retirees Association, Military-Veterans Advocacy, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, United States Army Warrant Officers Association, Veterans for Peace and Veterans for Common Sense.