WASHINGTON – Here's an update to a story CBN News reported regarding your tax dollars being used for painful medical testing on puppies and dogs at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country.
The spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week de-funds the testing this fiscal year unless it meets strict criteria and is personally approved by VA Secretary David Shulkin.
That means little to no testing may be conducted this year.
The VA recently announced it's initiating an "in-depth internal review of existing canine research projects."
"We understand that this is a sensitive issue," said Sec. Shulkin in a statement, "We look forward to a time when research involving canines is no longer necessary to advance the health of our Veterans and are taking action to hasten that day, but until then, the agency has a duty to do everything in its power to develop new treatments to preserve and restore our Veterans' health."
Taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project raised alarms about dog testing at the VA causing members of Congress to act.
"We're talking about tests like taking six-month-old puppies – putting them on treadmills – forcing them to run. Exhausted dogs, inducing heart attacks, sloppy and botched surgeries, restraint devices, drilling holes in their skulls, destroying their brains and charging taxpayers for it," White Coat Waste Project founder Anthony Bellotti tells CBN News.
Virginia Congressman Dave Brat, Florida Congressman and veteran Brian Mast and others joined forces to push the PUPPERS Act, legislation moving through Congress that permanently defunds painful taxpayer funded medical testing on dogs.
"Having led efforts to cut federal funding for the VA's unproductive and painful canine research, I thank my colleagues in Congress and President Trump for joining me in taking action to restrict funding for this abuse. I'll continue to work on defunding these wasteful and inhumane experiments on man's best friend for good," said Rep. Brat (R-VA) in a statement to CBN News.
Critics like Rep. Brat argue the testing doesn't provide meaningful results that improve the lives of wounded veterans and it's not something taxpayers should be funding.
Proponents point to the 2016 FDA approval of the first implantable artificial pancreas for diabetic patients achieved thanks to research performed on dogs, along with other advancements gained in the 1950's and 60's.
They say testing on dogs is necessary because they're biologically similar to humans.
According to White Coat Waste Project taxpayers spend at least $15 billion dollars a year on animal testing.
"We're not talking about pharmaceutical companies here, we're not talking about cosmetics testing here, we're not talking about private industry here – we're talking about government spending here, and they spend far more – the USDA, EPA, NIH, DOD, and Department of Veterans Affairs – than the entire private sector does combined," Bellotti said.