McGuire VA Medical Center not the only federal agency using taxpayer dollars on animal research

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Humane Society of the United States is calling for the federal government to step in and do something after 8News exposed dogs killed in medical experiments at McGuire Veteran’s Hospital in Richmond.

On Wednesday 8News exposed disturbing internal reports from McGuire of dogs being implanted with devices to give them an irregular heartbeat for the purpose of research. 8News also shared reports obtained by the animal rights groups White Coat Waste Project through a Freedom of Information Act request noting botched surgeries resulting in dog deaths.

“Unfortunately, I am not surprised such experiments are happening at that facility,” says Kathleen Conlee Vice President of Animal Research Issues at the Humane Society of the United States.

Conlee says there are many federal agencies engaged in taxpayer-funded animal testing that can include dogs.

“VA facilities, the National Institute Health, the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration,” Conlee said, running through a list. “The National Institutes of Health alone spends about $14 billion dollars a year on animal experiments, and we’re finding that they really don’t give us good results.”

Conlee, who once worked in an animal research facility, says the animals suffer.

Those White Coat Waste Project shared with 8News show the lab experiments induced heart attacks on the dogs and for some resulted in “sudden cardiac death.” Another report details a botched surgery, a doctor mistakenly sliced into a dog’s lung, killing the dog.

“This kind of experimentation outrages people and they want to see a change,” Conlee said.

The VA stresses its research has been “life-changing and lifesaving” for humans. The VA tells 8Nnews the research conducted on dogs is to help veterans suffering from lung infections, diabetes and PTSD.

Conlee calls the science antiquated and has little impact.

“92 percent of drugs, its estimated fail in humans after being testing on animals,” says Conlee.

The Human Society believes it’s time to move away from using animals in medical experiments.  The group supports scientific efforts like the Living Heard Project.

From Capitol Hill, Senator Tim Kaine’s office stated:

“Senator Kaine is aware of the report about the McGuire VA, and his staff is looking into it. Senator Kaine is a strong supporter of the humane treatment of animals.”

Congressman Donald McEachin also issued a statement, saying:

“This is the first I’ve heard of this concern. However, I fully support transparency and accountability in all areas of our government. I want rules followed and if an investigation is in order, I fully support it.  As a brand-new congressman, I was unaware of the situation but very much appreciate it coming onto my radar. Every day, as I work to help my constituents, I am learning more about the VA’s operations  – in fact two of my District Representatives took a tour of the facility today to be better able to serve folks. The VA is critical to Americans around the country and in the 4th Congressional District and I want to best serve my constituents.”

The VA tells 8News their research studies have received the gold standard accreditation in animal testing from AAALAC.

It’s a private organization that evaluates and promotes the humane treatment of animals in research. The Government Accountability Office has confirmed it will be doing an audit of the animal testing at McGuire and at other federal agencies.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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