- VA Secretary Robert Wilkie confirmed plans to continue the VA’s controversial medical experimentation on dogs.
- Wilkie made the announcement Friday to the National Press Club, where he said the practice helps advance medical research for veterans.
- VA timelines show the experiments, which have come under fire from animal advocates, began in the 1960s.
Speaking to the National Press Club, Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said he will reauthorize dog experimentation at the VA.
The VA started the controversial practice in the 1960s, and has come under fire in recent years from animal rights organizations.
Some of the experiments, described by USA Today, include implanting pacemakers in dogs before inducing abnormal heart rhythms and removing parts of their brains to test neurons. The report also said that after the experiments, the dogs are euthanized.
USA Today broke the news on November 1 that the VA would continue the experiments, citing obtained documents. Secretary Wilkie confirmed the VA’s plans on Friday, saying they help “advance medical research for veterans.”
VA Secretary Wilke says he will reauthorize dog experimentation at the VA. Says it helps advance medical research for veterans. “I love canines… but we have the opportunity to help men and women…” #NPClive
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) November 9, 2018
Wilkie’s announcement is drawing sharp criticism from veterans, including Florida Republican Reps. Vern Buchanan and Brian Mast. Both have co-sponsored the PUPPERS Act, a bipartisan effort to end painful dog experiments at the VA.
In a statement provided to Business Insider, Buchanan called the VA’s research “gruesome” and said some of the procedures include severing a dog’s spine.
“The VA has become a canine house of horrors,” he said.
The bill argues that these experiments are not only cruel but also unnecessary. Marine veteran and AMVETS executive Sherman Gillum agreed, saying that the procedures have not produced any medical advancements in “decades.”