Breaking news: Nation’s top science panel recommends VA should stop most research on dogs

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on July 1, 2020 with 22 Comments

Three years ago, Americans were stunned to learn that puppies and adult dogs were being subjected to gruesome surgeries, induced heart attacks and other invasive procedures, and then being euthanized, as part of taxpayer-funded medical experiments being carried out at the McGuire Medical Center in Richmond and other hospitals operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, a panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report concluding that such research is unnecessary in most cases.

The report states that there are only a few areas of current research for which dogs were determined to be scientifically necessary, adding that the VA should improve its process for determining the necessity of using dogs in a study before such a study is allowed to move forward.

It further recommends the careful clinical use of companion dogs when feasible (such as when people are getting their pet treated for cancer) instead of using dogs who spend their whole lives locked up in cages in laboratories. When dogs are kept in laboratories, their welfare should be enhanced, such as by providing outdoor access and by increasing dog-to-dog social interactions and exercise, the report says.

Most importantly, the committee urges the VA to move away from such research altogether by developing a road map to incorporate non-animal approaches into its biomedical research program.

The use of companion animals in taxpayer-funded research was first uncovered in 2017 by the White Coat Waste Project. Subsequently the VA’s Office of Research and Oversight, which investigated the findings, found extensive violations of federal animal welfare regulations, internal policies and research protocols at McGuire. Following a massive public outcry, the VA, in 2018, requested that the National Academies complete a study to review the care and use of dogs in research the VA funds or conducts.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund submitted extensive comments, urging the National Academies to recommend ending the use of dogs in VA research altogether. We argued that just because dogs have been used historically as a model of human disease does not sufficiently justify their continued use. Numerous non-animal alternative approaches are now available that are also faster, less expensive and more relevant to human health than animal studies.

The report released today is an important step away from invasive research and testing on dogs in laboratories. We urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to quickly adopt the National Academies’ recommendations, commit to ending the use of all dogs in research as soon as possible, and take immediate steps to embrace non-animal methods and strategies. Americans love dogs, and most do not want their taxpayer dollars used in research that hurts them.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Animal Research and Testing, Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Mary says:

    How sad that so many dogs have suffered greatly and been killed, and that it probably wasn’t even necessary . . .
    Thank goodness someone is reviewing this. Dogs, our best friends. If we turn a blind eye, what does that make us?

  2. mary first says:



    We all know that much of animal testing is totally unnecessary. The industry that turns a few into millionaires is to blame for this. It is excessive cruelty, but that does not matter to them, it is also an excess of unforgivable contamination, which does not matter to them either. The industry is the real problem of the whole world, and if it does not change, it must disappear. All of these animal abuses and experiments are a waste of lives in the hell of the industry, it is totally unfair, and it is only to enrich a tiny percentage of the world population. We are tired of this unjustified VIOLENCE, they are doing things wrong, and they are the number one destroyers on the planet. THEY ARE ONLY DEDICATED TO DESTROYING LIVES !!!!

  4. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No podemos abandonar a los animalitos y ellos necesitan de nuestra ayuda por favor yo en qué mundo vivimos no podemos ser inhumanos y olvidarnos de los seres vivos

  5. Deborah S Bandzerewicz says:

    There is no reason to continue such cruel and wasteful experiments on animals given the technology that exists today.
    There is too much money being wasted with very little oversight.
    The result is duplicative and unnecessary experimentation with zero results.
    Animal experimentation doesn’t need a phaseout, it needs to be banned regarding all animals

  6. Mary Stinespring says:

    Such a heartless act of cruelty. Praying this will stop!

  7. Jack Sidewitz says:

    All research should end. Not necessary since we have new techology and other ways of running tests, rather than on dogs, rays, rabbits, eyc. I could heat the screams of amimals when i delivered mail down at the research lab on the basement at the Tampa VA Hospital.

  8. Janie Adams says:

    What is wrong with society. I’m ashamed of being human. Why are people so cruel. I hate anyone who causes pain and suffering to any living being. I don’t understand how you could be part of any experiment that hurts others who can’t answer for themselves. You don’t have the right to make decisions for those who cannot defend themselves or speak.

  9. Judith Watts says:

    Thank God for this improvement!
    What a ghastly practice! Feel terrible for those animals whose lives were spent in screaming agony. Totally unnecessary!

  10. Teri Jo says:

    I see this and weep for these poor dogs. To make things worse…
    Medical science needs to modernize itself. Humans and animals are not the same; any outcomes from these tests are a WASTE OF TIME.

  11. Nathan Sady says:

    Oh Crumb!! News like this keeps blowing up. I thought maybe one state had some inconsistencies to kindness for creatures. Realizing some institutions make justifications that end up in sweeping abuses, I’d rather they quit a minimum of 90% of ongoing practices of studies involving animals.
    I’d also appreciate if puppy mills stopped making those offsprings so accessible.
    The unvarnished creed of animal cruelty as some means to an end doesn’t need so much examination. This would be advantageous to our immortal souls, conscience, morale or rational thought…..whatever name used to indicate a basic human decency.

  12. Carol Voss says:

    I hope they stop testing on rabbits. They are not just to torture and abuse. I have two house bunnies and they are loving, intellligent, use a little box like a cat and are really great pets. Indoors I mean, is cruel to relegate them to an outside cage to deal with weather, heat, cold and boredom.

  13. Diana Lewis says:

    What once was does not sanctify what will continue. Heartfelt gratitude goes to the responsible group who exposed this futile research involving the inhumane treatment of countless animals. Imposed cruelty is the worst cruelty!

  14. Sheree Knohl says:

    I agree with everyone who has made a comment about this it has to stop and people are getting sick and tired of the cruelty, abuse, torture, neglect, pain, suffering and the list is never ending!
    Put a stop to the worthless procedures that doctors say is so important when they know that it is not they are lying just to get money for so called research.
    Use human beings for research at least they can talk and decide if they want to be involved in experiments. Animals can’t talk so people have to stand up and speak for them and protect them!!!

  15. Janet Bennett says:

    There is no need to continue testing on these beautiful Beagles. They deserve to be able to live a wonderful life just like all the other dogs.
    Please, please stop the testing. There are other ways to do these testings. Please leave these gorgeous dogs alone, and let them live.😢😡🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

  16. Wayne says:

    Boycott any company that does animal testing.
    When is enough enough haven’t enough animals suffered .
    It’s 2020 stop crulity

  17. Priscilla Mendoza says:

    I am a retired Navy veteran who served reserve duty in Tucson, AZ. Occasionally, my unit was assigned construction projects at the VA hospital in south Tucson. Our unit was allowed access to an area not accessible to the general public. I was shocked and devastated to see kennels of beagles kept on the parking lot property for use in experiments. The barking and baying sounds typical of beagles could be heard clearly across the expansive property of the hospital. The dogs are no longer there, nor are the kennels. I do not know why, or what happened to the beagles. This has been over 15 years ago and I still see the dogs in my mind, barking, baying and anxiously pacing in the hard surfaced kennels. As a child, we had beagles as family pets so this really was emotionally difficult for me.
    Because of continued use of companion animals in labs, horrific animal testing and experimentation, I am a devout supporter of the HSUS, dedicating time to write letters to my state congressmen and women, donate money when possible and try to educate others who have absolutely no clue what is occuring in testing labs across the U.S.
    Please continue to support their efforts to uncover these labs.

  18. Adair Leonard says:

    Animal testing is animal cruelty.

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