Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday reiterated a call for a permanent ban on cruel canine experimentation by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration after the release of a report by its Inspector General's office which found the agency violated federal law by conducting painful research on dogs without authorization.
The new report by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General found that the VHA "conducted eight studies without the former or current Secretary's direct approval" in 2018 and 2019 and that this occurred even after public outrage in 2017 over reports of animal cruelty led to supposedly stricter guidelines in early 2018.
"The Inspector General's report makes it clear that the Department of Veteran Affairs misled the public while conducting cruel experiments on dogs in violation of federal law." —Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.)The OIG's report also contested the utility of the experimentation, concluding that there can "be no confidence that research on canines [at the VA] is limited to necessary studies of scientific importance that cannot be otherwise conducted for advancing human healthcare."
Congressional lawmakers like Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) said the cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs should no longer be tolerated.
"The Inspector General's report makes it clear that the Department of Veteran Affairs misled the public while conducting cruel experiments on dogs in violation of federal law," Titus said in a statement.
Last week, a study published by National Academy of Sciences found that most of the research conducted on dogs at the VHA was unnecessary and that the agency has failed to seriously explore alternative avenues of research to help the treatment of injured U.S. soldiers. Congresswoman Titus, meanwhile, has offered legislation (pdf) to ban the canine research completely.
In response to the NAS study, PETA issued a statement saying the VA should "address veterans' needs by using the most advanced technology available, such as synthetically engineered human cardiac tissue and advanced computer models, not shamelessly wasting taxpayer dollars on abusing and killing dogs and other animals in misguided, flawed, and deadly experiments that don't apply to humans because of significant physiological differences between species."
Titus said the "thorough investigation" by the OIG "is exactly why we need independent Inspectors General at every federal agency, whether President Trump likes it or not. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put an end to these harmful and unnecessary dog experiments at the Department of Veterans Affairs and at any other federal agencies."
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) are both co-sponsors of Titus' bipartisan legislation.
"Unauthorized use of appropriated funds is unacceptable, and we will work to ensure VA complies with our goal of protecting our animal friends," said Lieu.
Buchanan called the OIG's report "very troubling" and said it confirms that VA has failed to address concerns over the "unnecessary and inhuman experiments" on these dogs.
"Congress," Buchanan said, "needs to pass legislation to permanently ban these gruesome experiments."