Los Angeles VA Drops Plan for Cruel Experiment on Dogs

In a taxpayer-funded experiment that seems exceptionally inhumane, the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System (LA VA) has secretly been breeding Dobermans to suffer from the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

That’s not even the cruelest part. The LA VA planned to inject 18 of the narcoleptic dogs with methamphetamines every day for six months. After that ordeal, the poor dogs would then be killed and dissected to see how the drugs had affected the production of histamines in their brains.

Fortunately, the lives of those dogs have been spared and the LA VA dog-breeding program has ended, thanks to the efforts of the anti-animal-testing nonprofit White Coat Waste Project (WCW), Congress members Ted Lieu and Dina Titus, and other lawmakers.

The LA VA has secretly been conducting similar experiments on dogs for the past 20 years. WCW found out about the latest horrible study after obtaining a 2016 research application via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The group then contacted lawmakers, who were also appalled.

“We were not aware of it, and frankly no one was aware of it,” Lieu, who represents the area where the LA VA facility is located, told the Los Angeles Times. “No federal agency should be doing that. If this is true, these dogs are being abused.”

Last month, Lieu and Titus, along with seven other House members, sent a letter to the Veterans Affairs Inspector General demanding to know the details of the study and how much it would cost taxpayers. They also asked why the VA referred to it as being an “observational study” when 18 dogs would be injected with drugs for months and then killed.

“Such harmful experiments on dogs cannot reasonably be described as observational,” the May 8 letter stated. “We are also concerned that without access to FOIA documents, we would not have known the VA was providing misleading information or that dogs were even being used in these experiments at the Greater LA VA.”

About a month after the letter was sent, the LA VA announced the cancellation of its proposed study as well as its dog-breeding program. Here’s part of a June 12 statement it sent to the Daily Mail:

“A research proposal for breeding and studying these dogs was approved through VA’s Merit Review and the national Office of Research and Development recently. It would have involved giving therapeutic doses of the drugs used to manage narcolepsy in humans, and would have required euthanasia; however the researcher has no current plans to breed further and it is expected the study will not be done. “

WCW Vice President Justin Goodman told the L.A. Times the VA conducts experiments on 500,000 animals annually in its 74 medical centers. Only four of the facilities conduct medical testing on dogs.

That’s right – over 50 years after the creation of the Animal Welfare Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other U.S. government agencies are still conducting “invasive, bizarre, wasteful and deadly” experiments on dogs and puppies, according to a November 2016 WCW report.

A bipartisan group of 13 House representatives, including Congresswoman Titus, has demanded a federal audit of these cruel experiments.

The cancellation of the LA VA study and dog-breeding program might be good news for the dogs at other VA facilities, including one in Richmond, Va. “If these fatal experiments on healthy puppies are in fact taking place with poorly documented medical benefits for veterans, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill,” said Virginia Congressman Dave Brat.

Now only three VA facilities continue to force taxpayers to foot the bill for harmful dog studies, Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of WCW, said in a statement, adding, “One down, three to go.”

Photo credit: John Corlew

100 comments

Marie W
Marie W19 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Melania P
Melania P3 months ago

How can this be legal? Shame!!

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H4 months ago

Not so sure on this one.... The military has been using dogs for years for their "medical" field training. Shooting dogs legs off, etc...That is really horrific. But for them to claim "no one knew" about VA. HMMMM. Not convinced.

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heather g
heather g5 months ago

Dreadful that this abuse was kept quiet for so many years

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Joy T
Joy T5 months ago

YAY!

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O5 months ago

Thank you all for calling this for what it truly is! All that money should be going into helping re-pats get the 'on the ground' help they need. Waiting for prosthesis limbs, counseling, food, somewhere to live, travel expenses and the like. How dare they mutilate dogs on stupid trials that wont be of any significance to humans... because they are not humans they are dogs! Thank s to the WCWP and also Nancy B. as I will look into this group. I was wondering the same thing Heather L. These poor dogs dropping to sleep every few minutes/hours is going to make it hard for rehoming.

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers5 months ago

Good news!

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago

thanks

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Jess B
Jess B5 months ago

thanks

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Janet B
Janet B5 months ago

Thanks

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