Buchanan Wants Investigation into VA Dog Experiments

VA defends research as ‘life-changing and lifesaving’

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., said the VA’s animal research “include everything from inducing heart attacks to invasive brain-damaging surgeries, which can leave animals severely maimed or dead.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo).

Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs asking for an investigation into reports of medical experiments on dogs.

Buchanan’s letter came after Richmond, Va., TV station WRIC’s report into animal surgeries and deaths at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. 

The news report came after animal rights group the White Coat Waste Project made a Freedom of Information Act Request that revealed the testing and botched surgeries on dogs as young as a year old. 

One of the more gruesome details the investigation revealed was when doctors mistakenly sliced open the lung of a dog, killing it in the process.

Buchanan co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. 

“According to press reports, these disturbing and controversial experiments on dogs include everything from inducing heart attacks to invasive brain-damaging surgeries, which can leave animals severely maimed or dead,” Buchanan’s letter read.

Buchanan, who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, also said he was concerned about the lack of a database that tracks the research projects and results. He urged VA Inspector General Michael Missal to investigate the situation.

“While we should do all we can to ensure that veterans are getting the treatment and care they deserve, I also feel strongly that the public has a right to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent — and the extent of any experimentation on animals — at the V.A.”

In a letter to WRIC, the VA defended the research program, saying it has “resulted in products that are both life-changing and lifesaving. From the implantable cardiac pacemaker to the nicotine patch to electronic health records, the innovations that happen as a result of VA research have far-reaching and lasting impact that doesn’t just touch the lives of Veterans who serve our nation, but all Americans.”

The agency said the research has “accountability mechanisms in place that comply with the same regulations and standards that university programs, state, private, military or civilian organizations employ.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.