VA could phase out the use of canines in existing research projects

WASHINGTON D.C. (WRIC) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is exploring the possibility of phasing out the use of canines for research purposes.

The department on Tuesday announced that it aims to reduce future research on canines by initiating a ‘rapid, in-depth internal review of existing canine research projects.’

The move comes after a series of 8News investigations uncovering painful and deadly dog experiments underway at McGuire VA Hospital in Richmond.

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a release. “We look forward to a time when research involving canines is no longer necessary to advance the health of our Veterans and are taking action to hasten that day, but until then, the agency has a duty to do everything in its power to develop new treatments to preserve and restore our Veterans’ health.”

Earlier this year 8News learned of the VA’s shift in policy, Shulkin said he was not a supporter of research practices involving dogs.

As proof of the department’s commitment to reduce the use of dogs in its research, the VA on Tuesday said that of the thousands of research projects currently underway, fewer than 15 involve canines.

In addition, the department says no new canine studies have been initiated since a new policy was adopted in late 2017 and that two new studies were required to use alternative models instead of canines.

The VA is now reviewing those existing studies that use canines to determine whether or not the use of dogs should be phased out before the project’s original end date.

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