VA Continues Cruel Dog Experiments Despite Defunding Threat

In horrific experiments, researchers at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities around the country implanted dogs’ stomachs with electrodes that made them vomit repeatedly. They placed pacemakers and catheters in dogs’ hearts, which forced the dogs to have heart attacks. When the experiments ended, so did the dogs’ suffering. They killed them all.

While the VA has argued that these cruel experiments help lead the way to cures for veterans’ health ailments, Congress, veterans and anyone who cares about animals disagrees—especially Americans whose taxes fund the research, to the tune of $15 billion every year.

In July 2017, the bipartisan PUPPERS (Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species) Act, which would end federal funding for research that causes pain or distress to dogs, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Dave Brat, a Republican, and Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat. The bill unanimously passed the House but stalled in the Senate, thanks to the VA’s campaign to kill it.

Meanwhile, the VA has continued to conduct these experiments, according to disturbing documentation obtained by USA TODAY. Nine experiments are currently being conducted at four VA facilities.

In Milwaukee, they’re removing sections of dogs’ brains to test neurons that control breathing. In Cleveland, they place electrodes on dogs’ spinal cords—and then sever their spinal cords—to measure cough reflexes before and after. They will kill all of the dogs afterward.

Things were looking up in March, when Donald Trump signed the Omnibus Bill, which included a section requiring dog experiments to be directly approved by the VA secretary in order to receive funding from Congress.

Five days later, on March 28—the same day Trump fired him—VA Secretary David Shulkin allegedly approved more experiments. Shulkin, who has since done a 180 and now opposes these experiments, told USA TODAY he “wasn’t asked, nor did I request a review for an approval.” However, VA spokesman Curt Cashour said Shulkin orally approved the experiments during a meeting that morning. The new law does not require the VA secretary’s approval to be in writing.

On April 5, the VA ordered dozens of dogs to be used in medical research, WRIC reported at the time. The watchdog group, White Coat Waste Project, obtained the invoices.

During the last eight months, the McGuire VA Medical Center in Virginia purchased eight hounds, including two puppies, for research, WRIC reports. They’ve already killed four of those dogs.

According to USA TODAY, these horrible experiments will continue under the new VA secretary, Robert Wilkie, who was sworn in three months ago.

“Michael Vick spent time in prison doing pretty much the same thing the VA is doing now … torturing and killing the same animals that wounded vets use as service dogs and families have for pets,” said Sherman Gillums, Jr., the chief strategy officer for AMVETS (American Veterans), on the organization’s Facebook page. “Just because it’s government sanctioned doesn’t make it any different.”

“Why there’s this commitment to it, I don’t know because it doesn’t yield any results,” Titus, co-sponsor of the PUPPERS Act, told USA TODAY. “It’s not economically sound, they could be looking at new technologies, and morally people just don’t support testing on puppies.”

Cashour told USA TODAY that the agency uses dogs in experiments “only when no other species would provide meaningful results and the work is ethically sound.” They use rats and mice most of the time.

What could possibly be considered “ethically sound” about using any animals at all in cruel experiments in the 21st century? Humane, high-tech alternatives are available nowadays, such as synthetic dogs that have amazing, lifelike tissue and functioning body systems.

The VA recently paid the National Academy of Sciences $1.3 million for a study to assess the department’s care and use of dogs in experiments. “This is important to ensure that the debate surrounding this issue is grounded in careful analysis that takes into account the full context of the issue,” Cashour told USA TODAY.

In the meantime, Titus and Brat will continue to push to end funding for VA dog experiments, as will Rep. Brian Mast, (R-Fla.), a member of the House VA Committee. Mast is a veteran who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan. “We haven’t executed what we wanted as intent,” he told USA TODAY, “which was to bring this to an end in its entirety.”

Take Action

The VA must stop torturing dogs and other animals. Please sign and share this petition urging Congress to pass the PUPPERS Act.

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo credit: jackmac34


Shae Lee
Shae Lee2 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Mark D
Mark Donner2 months ago

Don't even wait.. send in the military to take down those vicious psychos at the VA. They're psychotic personalities, sadists torturing dogs for their own personal thrills and are a threat to the public.

Carol Johnson
Carol Johnson2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley2 months ago

This needs to stop. Thank you.

joan silaco
joan silaco2 months ago


Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Deplorble Thank you for carinf and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Signed and shared Thank you for carinf and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Thank you for carinf and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Cruel BASTARDS Thank you for carinf and sharing

Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.