Friends of VA Publicly Opposes Defunding VA Dog Studies

On Friday, Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) sent a letter to Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, opposing an amendment passed in the homeland security minibus that would prohibit funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for certain studies involving dogs.

FOVA is a coalition of more than 80 national academic, medical, and scientific societies, voluntary health and patient advocacy groups, and veteran service organizations dedicated to providing veterans with high-quality care. FOVA believes “The policy included in the appropriations bill will impede scientific research and unnecessarily delay research advances for our nation’s veterans.”

The amendment to the minibus was introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) and passed by the House of Representatives in July. It contains similar language as House standalone bill H.R. 3197, the PUPPERS Act, which would prevent Class D and E studies from being performed at the VA, a move that could set the precedent for a prohibition against the use of dogs in all biomedical research. The legislation is troubling, as it could represent the first time Congress has prohibited the use of an animal species in scientific/medical studies, and it could lead to future laws that target additional species of research animals. The studies performed by the VA involving dogs are critically important in the search for treatments for diseases that impact the veterans’ community and civilians, and are strictly regulated.

As mentioned above, there are two pieces of House legislation that, if signed into law, would limit the use of dogs at the VA. The first piece of legislation is Brat's amendment to the homeland security minibus, a spending bill that would need to be reauthorized each year. The second piece of legislation is a standalone bill that would serve as a more permanent prohibition of certain dog studies at the VA. Although the House amendment to the homeland security minibus was passed in July, the House standalone bill has not yet been considered by the Veterans' Affairs Committee. A Senate standalone companion bill has not been introduced either. Congress is currently in recess until after Labor Day.

Stars and Stripes, a publication widely read by the military community, published a story yesterday about FOVA’s letter. The publication touts a readership of more than one million per day, including “active-duty service members, DoD civilians, contractors, and their families.”

To read FOVA’s letter, please click here. We encourage you to share the letter as well as the Stars and Stripes’ article on your social media pages to help educate the public and policy makers about this harmful legislation.