VA slapped with lawsuit over McGuire dog experiments

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has bee slapped with a lawsuit. The federal agency is accused of hiding information about those taxpayer funded dog experiments at McGuire VA Hospital.

8News first exposed those experiments back in March.

The lawsuit was filed by animal rights and taxpayer watchdog White Coat Waste Project. The lawsuit alleges the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to disclose the names of the lead researchers, funding sources and dog vendors involved with those canine experiments happening at McGuire VA Hospital.

The information was redacted and sometimes omitted from the documents that 8News obtained through a freedom of information act request.

In a statement, White Coats’ Executive Director Julie Germany says:

“We’re suing the Department of Veterans Affairs because taxpayers have a right to know who’s paying the bills, who’s cashing the checks and who’s responsible for abusing puppies in wasteful heart attack experiments at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center.”

Robin Starr, Chief Executive Officer for the Richmond SPCA, tells 8News they’re opposed to the animal testing at McGuire.

“We are very troubled by it,” Starr said.

8News shared with the SPCA documents that show the McGuire research involves 118 dogs and includes surgeries to implant pacemakers, stress tests and induced heart attacks. Most, if not all of the dogs, are set to die.

Starr says she reached out to McGuire just to talk over the projects and see why the VAA feels it’s necessary, but McGuire’s not talking.

“We have consistently met with a stone wall, they will not talk with us,” Starr explained.

8News has also been denied information that we feel is public record.

When we filed a FOIA in May asking how many dogs remained at McGuire, we were told that was not reasonable.

And on Friday, June 16, our request for “emails, memos, letters, contracts” about funding for the research was denied.

The VA issued the following statement:

“We don’t typically discuss pending litigation, and won’t in this case. Generally, however, VA welcomes the Inspector General’s investigation into our animal research program and we look forward to its completion. If problems are exposed, they will be fixed and those responsible will be held accountable.

One of the most effective ways for VA to discover new treatments for diseases that affect Veterans and non-Veterans alike, is the continuation of animal research. VA’s animal research program contributes significantly to improving and saving the lives of Veterans and the long-term quality of health care for all Americans.  VA animal research is strictly controlled and monitored with accountability mechanisms in place that comply with the same regulations and standards that university programs and state, private, and military organizations employ.”

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