More top veterans’ service organizations have come out in support of animal experimentation at the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of reports showing abuse and poor care of puppies used for research purposes.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation and sent last Wednesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee, organizations such as Vietnam Veterans of America, Association of the US Navy, National Defense Committee, and Square Deal for Veterans argued that restricting or ending animal experimentation at the VA would have disastrous consequences.
For these organizations, stopping animal research would “condemn wounded and injured veterans to potentially lethal respiratory infections, increased harm from heart attacks, less ability to adequately manage diabetes side effects (such as eye damage, kidney failure, and amputations), and increased disability from strokes, and failed organ transplantation.”
The letter further argued against the PUPPERS Act and the almost identical version of the bill placed in the Minibus Appropriations Act, which has already been passed by the House. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus and Republican Rep. Dave Brat introduced PUPPERS in response to reports of animal abuse at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA. The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a report from the VA’s Office of Research Oversight (ORO) in June establishing evidence of abuse and oversight failures regarding dog experimentation at the facility.
Separately, the major veterans’ service organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) also sent a letter Wednesday on behalf of its 400,000 members to the same committee, urging members of Congress to oppose the same legislation. While IAVA acknowledged that researchers at the Hunter Holmes McGuire medical center in Virginia failed to follow rules, the group stated that “there are mechanisms in place to remediate the situation an discipline those involved.”
In other words, IAVA does not believe that reports of animal abuse outweigh the potential benefits of animal experimentation for disabled veterans suffering from conditions that are currently difficult or impossible to treat within the existing medical paradigm.
VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote an op-ed in USA Today pointing out that medical organizations and other veterans’ groups believe that animal experimentation is the way forward. Shulkin noted that dog experimentation in particular is essential because of the physiological similarities between dogs and humans. Moreover, Shulkin pointed out that computer modeling in place of direct experimentation is not possible because those models depend on crucial biological and physiological information unavailable in the absence of these experiments.
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