The Department of Veterans Affairs is best known for the slow and subpar healthcare it provides for our troops. And maybe that’s because they’re too busy doing other things over there, like torturing cats. According to new reports, VA Secretary Denis McDonough personally approved a new round of painful tests on seven cats at the VA’s Stokes lab in Cleveland.
As we’ve been reporting for some time, the NIH is by no means the only government agency involved with funding risky and heinous research on animals, and the VA has previously come under fire for experiments it ran on cats that came to light in 2021 (thanks to FOIA filings). In those studies, cats had their legs mutilated and their brain stems cut out and were then made to run on treadmills
In response, the White Coat Waste Project (where I am a Fellow), along with a strong bipartisan cohort of lawmakers enacted spending legislation defunding the VA’s torturous experiments on dogs, cats, and other primates. The language did make exceptions for specific instances where the secretary of the department deems them necessary and unavoidable, but this latest grant certainly does not seem to rise to that standard. Reportedly, the experiments would involve implanting sensors for a prosthetic hand into cats. The point would be to test the durability of wiring connectors for the medical device.
"We’ve now exposed the Biden administration’s preposterous plan to put seven more cats under the knife, once again, in a wasteful spending spree opposed by Republicans & Democrats in Congress”
— White Coat Waste Project 🥼🗑️ (@WhiteCoatWaste) July 11, 2023
In response to the news, Representative Brian Mast (R, FL) said, “The VA’s proposed use of taxpayer money to resume cruel tests on cats is a huge step backwards. It’s unnecessary, unacceptable, and would undo so much of the progress we’ve made to stop VA cat experiments. I’ll continue to fight until these wasteful experiments are ended for good.”
“Following our investigations, campaigns, and lobbying, last year the VA completely ended its painful testing on dogs and cats, but we’ve now exposed the Biden Administration’s preposterous plan to put seven more cats under the knife,” said Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President at the White Coat Waste Project. “Once again, in a wasteful spending spree opposed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress,” he said.
In a letter to Secretary McDonough, Representatives Mast and Titus wrote that his “decision appears to be at odds with Congressional intent, federal law, and the VA’s own animal research policy and agency efforts to eliminate the use of cats.” They have yet to receive a response.
Fortunately, it seems the VA has yet to purchase the doomed kitties and the project has not commenced. That means there is still time to apply public pressure and stop this absurd plan.
The VA needs to focus a lot more time on its purported mission and get out of the weird animal torture business, pronto.
Hannah is a Fellow at the White Coat Waste Project.