Disturbing Dog Experiments Will Be More Regulated at VA, But Why Can’t We Just End Them?

In experiments conducted at the McGuire VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Richmond, Va., pacemakers and catheters were implanted into the hearts of dogs. The dogs were then forced to have heart attacks when liquid latex was injected into their arteries. Afterward, they were killed and researchers studied their heart tissues.

Because of the researchers’ incompetence, things went horribly wrong with these horrible experiments. Two of the dogs died during the surgery to sever their cardiac nerves. One was killed when a researcher cut into his lung instead of his heart. The fourth almost died after being given a sedative overdose and then not being provided with proper post-procedural care.

These disturbing experiments were described in a report by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)’s Office of Research Oversight, which spent four days in April investigating the facility.

But the VAMC is not the only VA facility that’s conducting cruel experiments on dogs. In the planning stages at three others are surgeries on the brains, spines of hearts of about 300 dogs, including 6-month-old Beagle puppies. All of these dogs will die when the experiments are completed, USA Today reports.

At the VA Los Angeles facility, Dobermans were bred to suffer from the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Fortunately, a plan to inject them with methamphetamines every day for six months and then kill them to study their brains was scrapped – along with the facility’s disturbing dog-breeding program.

In Milwaukee, parts of dogs’ stomachs were removed and implanted with electrodes. The dogs were forced to throw up over and over so researchers could study the effect of the mutilation on their vomiting. This terrible experiment is one of several described on the website of the White Coat Waste Project (WCW), a bipartisan coalition that advocates against wasteful government spending on these painful animal experiments. It was the WCW that filed a complaint that led to the investigation of the VAMC.

Not only are these experiments horrible and unnecessary, but American taxpayers are paying $15 billion every year for the VA to conduct them.

To end this spending, the PUPPERS (Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species) Act was introduced in Congress earlier this year by Rep. Dave Brat, a Republican, and Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat. This legislation, which would end federal funding for research that causes pain or distress to dogs, passed the House in July.

In response to the threat of losing funding, the VA has promised that going forward, any research using dogs will be required to be approved by veterinary officials, and the experiments must be reviewed by scientists.

“VA programs that have dog research as a component will now be visited more frequently by our accrediting body,” Michael Fallon, the VA’s chief veterinary medical officer, told USA Today.

Why Not Just End the Horrible Experiments?

Improving oversight on these inhumane experiments is a good first step by the VA, but why not just stop them altogether?

Some disabled veterans are concerned that ending the experiments will prevent the discovery of life-saving treatments for humans. So is VA Secretary David Shulkin.

“Part of our mission is to push the envelope constantly in search of medical advancements that will help improve the lives of disabled veterans,” he wrote in a USA Today opinion piece.

Members of Congress supporting the PUPPERS Act – as well as the majority of Americans, according to a WCW poll – don’t believe “pushing the envelope” should mean harming and killing live animals.

“The reports I read about were almost on the scale of torture,” Brat said in regard to the VAMC investigation. “I think there are probably alternative paths that will lead to the same breakthroughs.”

He’s right. The fact is that experiments on animals have not improved public health. In drug tests, for example, a whopping 92 percent of those that are successful for animals fail in human trials, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is, after all, the 21st century and not medieval times. Amazing technology is being developed that should make the use of live animals in testing obsolete. For instance, synthetic dogs are are already available for veterinary schools. They have lifelike tissue and functioning bodily systems, including beating synthetic hearts. The VA should be spending taxpayers’ money on something more worthwhile, like these.

While the VA has taken a step in the right direction, animal experiments by the government need to be stopped altogether. Please sign and share this petition urging Congress to pass the PUPPERS Act.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

As horrible as this is, animal testing has led to some great life saving medical discoveries. I'm sorry but people are more important than animals.

Teresa B. S
Teresa B. S1 years ago

This is outrageous at the very least! To my mind it is also criminal! I realize that, say, drug trial must eventually be tested on a living thing (since all the simulations i the world aren't going to reveal how that one - probably in the minority - human will react to it), but especially with a track record of most of them which "pass" animal trials FAIL in human trials, why jeopardize these companions of ours?

One Heart inc
Carl Rosenstock1 years ago


Elaine W
Elaine W1 years ago

Sad to hear about.

joan s
joan silaco1 years ago

The VA won't recognize animal groups that raise money and are in need of grants to support their training of dogs to pair up with veterans/service men and women that have PTSD, but they could spend tax payer money and perform repetitious animal experiments to help vets? They haven't upgraded their format since the Vietnam war!

Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs1 years ago

Good petition very sad what Animals go Through .stop hurting animals..

Peggy B
Peggy B1 years ago

:( Petition signed previously.

Carl R
Carl R1 years ago


One Heart i
Carl Rosenstock1 years ago