Yesterday, I called on you to take action to support a bipartisan amendment to a defense spending bill to halt federal funding of painful experiments on dogs at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities for the upcoming fiscal year. So many of you responded, and Congress listened. The House passed the amendment last night by voice vote. We are grateful to Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Ted Poe, R-Texas, Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., for sponsoring the amendment and shepherding it to passage. We thank the White Coat Waste Project for leading the charge on the issue.
Many of these lawmakers spoke and noted that an investment in research more directly applied to humans and applying 21st-century methods will yield better outcomes for veterans facing health challenges. “These dog testing experiments at the VA are consuming limited taxpayer dollars, medical staff time, and office space that could be better utilized to deliver health care for veterans,” said Congressman Brat, who was the lead author of the amendment. “The VA’s first priority should be caring for our veterans, not harming man’s best friend.”
Their amendment mirrored the purposes of the PUPPERS Act (Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act), also led by Reps. Brat and Titus. That bill will permanently end painful dog experiments at Veterans Affairs facilities. And in terms of the defunding amendment, we need to work with the Senate and maintain that language as the Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill moves to its next stage.
People are often distressed when they learn the details of dogs and other animals confined and suffering in laboratories. Whether it’s chimpanzees or animals used in chemical or cosmetic testing, we have worked to bring the plight of these animals to light and to end their suffering.
There’s more to do on this front. Some cosmetic makers are still testing their ingredients on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats, forcing substances down their throats and applying them to the eyes or skin of animals who never deserved this kind of fate. Often, the protocols do not require pain relief, and animals suffer terribly.
The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790) is a key priority for The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund, and last night’s vote reminds us of the potential for meaningful reform. This bill would make it unlawful for anyone to test cosmetics on animals in the United States and would phase out the sale of cosmetics that involved any new animal testing, even if conducted outside of the country. We sincerely appreciate the work of our friends in Congress who are the lead sponsors of this effort, especially Reps. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Don Beyer, D-Va., Ed Royce, R-Calif., Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., joined by 54 additional co-sponsors so far.
More than 750 cosmetic brands in North America have committed to eliminating animal testing from their product lines and nearly 200 companies endorse the Humane Cosmetics Act. These companies are able to develop great cruelty-free products by using the thousands of existing ingredients already proven safe or using non-animal test methods for new ingredients. It’s important to note that The HSUS is at the forefront of pushing for development and use of non-animal alternatives for all animal testing, such as our work through the Human Toxicology Project Consortium and our resource website AltTox.
Thanks to the diligent work of our affiliate, Humane Society International, 36 nations have already banned cosmetic animal testing and/or trade, and there are active efforts to make Canada, Brazil, Australia, and other countries cruelty-free marketplaces. And if hundreds of U.S.-based manufacturers are also selling in those 36 nations, they are complying with the law and not engaging in new animal testing. Which raises the question: why not level the playing field and join our efforts to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act? Let’s make the United States that next cruelty-free marketplace: urge your member of Congress to join the effort by taking action.