February 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) were joined by nine Members of Congress in demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suspend dog testing given its costs, animal welfare concerns, opposition from veterans and available alternatives.    

“Repeatedly, we’ve seen that experiments on dogs are often unnecessary, wasteful and cruel," Rep. Lieu said. "The VA should make every effort to help and support our veterans, and using ineffective animal testing is both painful for dogs and a waste of valuable resources. In fact, the VA in my district in Los Angeles discontinued dog testing that required breeding dogs to suffer from narcolepsy. I hope that the VA will give the same consideration to inhumane testing practices elsewhere. At a minimum, the VA should suspend dog testing while this study on its effectiveness is under way.”

"This research is cruel, unnecessary and inefficient. Though in theory the studies are supposed to help people who have endured serious combat injuries, VA experts have noted that even the most promising animal research rarely applies to people,” Rep. Zeldin said. “Despite widespread disapproval from Congress and veterans organizations, the VA has continued these horrific experiments. It is clear that even the VA has legitimate concerns regarding its own dog testing program. The VA must suspend these experiments until their independent evaluation is complete.”

A signed pdf of the letter is available here.

Full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary Wilkie,

We were troubled to read your recent statements in support of the Veterans Affairs (VA)’s controversial dog testing program given its costs, animal welfare concerns, opposition from veterans, and opposition from veterans.

Clearly, the VA agrees that there are legitimate concerns being raised, so much so that it has commissioned a $1.3 million study of the program by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The evaluation, “Assessment of the Care and Use of Dogs in Research Funded by or Conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” is scheduled to produce two reports and be completed “in mid-2020.”

While the VA awaits the results of this independent evaluation of the necessity of the agency’s dog testing, we request that the VA suspend all ongoing dog testing and postpone the review and approval of any new projects until the results of the National Academies study are published.

As you are aware, the VA has already canceled several invasive dog studies that it initially approved after a secondary review revealed the availability of alternatives or that the work was otherwise unnecessary. We believe that the National Academies will find this to be the case for other current VA dog experiments as well. In the meantime, it would be inappropriate to use taxpayers’ money, dogs, and other VA resources for research that may ultimately be deemed wasteful and scientifically unjustifiable.