State lawmaker, Richmond SPCA join calls to end dog experiments at McGuire VA

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Concerns are mounting over deadly dog experiments at McGuire VA Medical Center. A state lawmaker and the local SPCA are now calling for an end to the medical research using canines.

“To hear about experiments being performed on man’s best friend, on domesticated animals, dogs and puppies as young at six months, it’s sad, it’s disturbing,” State Senator Glen Sturtevant said.

Sturtevant is an attorney who often represents veterans. He tells 8News says he was sickened to learn McGuire VA Medical Center has been using dogs in medical research projects.

“I think there is a big difference between testing cancer drugs on lab rats and performing maximum pain experiments on dogs and puppies as young as six months old,” Sturtevant said.

8News had uncovered in these studies, the dogs undergo surgery to be implanted with pacemakers. They’re then forced to run on a treadmill until they collapse or have a heart attack. Most of the dogs are euthanized.

“That is just not humane, not ethical and we are very opposed to it,”  says Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA.

The Richmond SPCA is also now joining calls for a stop to the dog studies. This comes as 8News has obtained a copy of a report detailing a federal inspection of the facility in April.

Inspectors found problems with the animal medical records. Some of the documents failed to show if the dogs were receiving sufficient monitoring, preoperative medications and veterinary care.

“Undoubtedly, this causes suffering and discomfort and distress and of course a life in a research facility is a miserable life of absolutely no quality,” Starr said.

Sturtevant thinks the troubled McGuire VA should get back to focusing on good medical care for veterans. Vets seem to agree. Several have now launched this petition urging the VA Secretary to end the experiments. More than 79, 000 people have signed it.

On Capitol Hill this week, Congressman Dave Brat spoke out against the dog research to 8News. Sturtevant hopes others will do the same.

‘”In the state senate, state legislators, we are limited in what we can do when it comes to the federal government and federal VA, but it is my hope that our congressional delegation from Virginia, our congressman and congresswoman, will work on trying to put an end to this sort of thing in the VA system,” Sturtevant said.

Earlier this week,  the VA’s Chief Veterinary Medical Officer told 8News many medical problems can only be addressed with animal research.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.