Our friends at the White Coat Waste project (WCW) are at it again hitting back against VA waste of taxpayer dollars on animal experiments.
But instead of using op-ed’s and other pressure points in DC, WCW is using billboards to drive home taxpayer accountability.
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Over the years, WCW has helped bring attention to the use of taxpayer dollars to experiment on animals when appropriate substitutes can be found.
Back in September, WCW and its team nonprofit tax activists threw a little kitty litter in the eyes of the VA Secretary and personnel at the Cleveland VAMC.
There, researchers are experimenting on cats. In a video exposé, it was revealed that Cleveland VA buys six-month-old healthy cats. Those cats are then experimented on with implanted electrodes. The electrodes remotely simulate bladders or colons, inserts fake feces into them, and severs some of their spinal cords then killing and dissecting some.
Including cat experiments, WCW says VA has wasted over $9 million in taxpayer dollars on:
- buying healthy and “friendly” kittens
- implanting devices into their brains, bladders, and colons
- severing their spines
- pushing fake poop into their anuses
- and then killing and dissecting them.
Was it money well spent?
Cat experiments are not limited to Cleveland VA.
The Los Angeles VA has spent $5 million in taxpayer dollars on two separate e sleep experiments (grant #1 & #2). These involve drilling into cats’ skulls and implanting electrodes into their brains, and then killing and dissecting the cats.
In August 2020, WCW filed a federal lawsuit against the LA VA for failing to provide documents about ongoing cat experiments.
Lawmakers Speak Out
After the kitty WCW campaign, a coalition of 30 bipartisan members of Congress that includes 7 military veterans sent a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie expressing their “grave concerns about painful and outdated cat testing at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Statement from Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy, White Coat Waste Project
“Ohioans have a right to know that millions of their hard-earned tax dollars are being wasted on cruel and unnecessary kitten constipation experiments at the Cleveland VA, an issue with particular urgency as COVID-19 ravages veterans’ health and strains the VA’s limited resources. It’s time to cut the crap and send this taxpayer-funded kitten catastrophe to the litterbox where it belongs.”
Statement from Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV)
“The VA’s invasive and deadly cat experiments are sickening. You don’t have to be a cat owner like I am to recognize that. I’m proud that the House recently passed the language I drafted with Army veteran Congressman Mast to eliminate taxpayer funding for the VA’s cruel and unnecessary dog testing. I’ll continue to work to end these similarly abusive tests on cats and redirect VA resources to humane research tools that will help improve veterans’ lives.”
Statement from Army veteran Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
“The VA’s continued use of taxpayer dollars to conduct painful and invasive experiments on cats is unacceptable. These tests are unnecessary and they must come to an end. It’s time we got some answers!”
The agency apparently did not take swift enough action.
Earlier this December, Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Army veteran Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced the Cat Abuse in Testing Stops (CATS) Act to end wasteful spending on cat and kitten experiments that cause significant pain or distress, also called CATS Act of 2020.
The Bill, HR 8867, seeks to end VA’s use of cats in experiments. “In carrying out research, the Secretary may not purchase, breed, transport, house, feed, maintain, dispose of, or experiment on cats as part of the conduct of any study that causes significant pain or distress.”
While the Bill does not prohibit all cat experiments, it will significantly curb the current practice.
Statement from Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
“The VA’s deadly and outdated cat experiments are sickening. You don’t have to be a cat owner like I am to recognize that. I’m proud to introduce the CATS Act with Congressman Brian Mast, an Army veteran, to stop the VA’s cruel and unnecessary tests on cats so that these resources can be redirected to modern and humane research that will improve veterans’ lives.”
Statement from Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
“The VA’s continued use of taxpayer dollars to conduct painful and wasteful experiments on cats and kittens is unacceptable. These tests are barbaric, unnecessary and do nothing to actually help veterans. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Rep. Titus to bring them to an end once and for all.”
Statement from Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project
“The CATS Act will send the VA’s wasteful taxpayer-funded kitten catastrophe to the litterbox where it belongs. Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for the VA to buy healthy and friendly kittens, maim them, drill into their skulls and videotape their abuse in archaic experiments. We applaud Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Brian Mast (R-FL) and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle for introducing the CATS Act to cut the VA’s wasteful cat experiments that are opposed by most taxpayers and squander precious VA money, space, staff, and time.”
Earlier VA Response On VA Animal Experiments
In late August, VA responded to one of my FOIA requests about canine research from 2017. Yes, it took them 3 years to respond.
I asked VA a series of questions at the time about their dog experiments including, “What is the business case for VA to continue research on canines since 2015?”
VA responded, “Dog research continues to be critical to VA’s mission to serve Veterans with the best possible therapies and treatments.”
In all fairness, VA provided a lengthy explanation about its canine experiments that I will try to publish at a later date.
In 2017, I wrote a critical op-ed for The Hill calling for greater accountability for VA when conducting dog experimentation. The practice was thought to have stopped at least under former Secretary David Shulkin.
However, the win was short lived. Bureaucrats within the agency and private sector partners apparently moved forward with more experimentation after Shulkin was no longer head of the agency.
Ultimately, Congress acted on the canine experiments over the summer by restricting VA’s ability to fund such experiments.
How will the next administration handle it?