Nine Democratic lawmakers have asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why the agency is conducting taxpayer-funded experiments in which dogs are killed to study the effects of methamphetamine and antidepressants on their brains.
In a letter to the department’s inspector general, Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada and eight Los Angeles-area lawmakers said details of the experiments on Dobermans are “alarming.”
“We are concerned that the VA’s description of the experiments as ‘observational’ is inaccurate and misleads Congress and taxpayers to believe that the studies are harmless,” the lawmakers wrote. “Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent.”
The animal-rights group White Coat Waste Project obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request about research at the VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
The lawmakers’ letter cites a research application that was approved in October, involving the breeding of Dobermans with narcolepsy, injecting them with methamphetamines or antidepressants, and then killing them and removing their brains for study.
“We are also concerned that without access to FOIA documents, we would not have known the VA was providing misleading information or that dogs were even used in these experiments at the Greater LA VA,” the lawmakers wrote
The animal-rights group says the VA is subjecting dogs to “painful” experiments at four facilities — in Los Angeles; Cleveland, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Richmond, Virginia.
The VA had no immediate comment, other than to say that the inspector general’s office will respond to the lawmakers soon.