Five federal agencies are under fire for using 294 dogs in experiments last year that caused the animals “significant pain and distress,” including induced heart attacks, drilling on their skulls and surgeries to implant equipment.
That’s according to the White Coat Waste Project, a group that wants to stop the animal testing and force the agencies to disclose more information on exactly what they’ve been doing.
The issue has aroused attention on Capitol Hill, where Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson and a dozen other House members are demanding answers. The bipartisan group has requested a federal audit of the programs.
“Unfortunately we have discovered it is impossible to determine what federal animal research programs currently entail, what they cost and if they meet federal standards because of the limited and decentralized information available publicly,” Simpson and the other House members wrote in a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office last week.
White Coat Waste Project released its report on dog experiments last month, using federal records that showed a total of 1,183 dogs were held or used last year by the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.
Nearly 25 percent of the dogs were used in experiments that caused them pain, the report said.
While the agencies do not publicly report on the breed, age or origin of the dogs they use in experiments, beagles are most commonly used due to their small size and docile temperament, the report said.
Backers of the research say it’s important in studying disease, but the members of Congress who asked for the audit said some agencies are not tracking the projects closely enough.
“Such transparency and accounting deficiencies prevent assessments by Congress and the public of the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of what we estimate to be a multi-billion-dollar government enterprise,” they said in their letter.
Simpson, a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee, had no comment on Wednesday.
The 12 others who signed the letter were Democratic Reps. Dina Titus of Nevada, Don Beyer of Virginia, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts and Republican Reps. Ryan Costello and Tom Marino, both of Pennsylvania, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Ken Calvert, Mimi Walters and Ed Royce, all of California.
On Tuesday, Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project, called the request for an audit a “crucial bipartisan effort to scrutinize how taxpayers’ money is spent on the government’s secretive and wasteful experiments” on dogs and other animals.