The Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing forward with invasive and ultimately fatal experiments on dogs as part of the VA’s medical research program, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.
The controversial procedures previously sparked outrage and opposition from some veterans’ advocates and prompted strict restrictions from Congress. The VA says the studies could produce discoveries that may help veterans suffering from spinal cord or breathing problems.
In Milwaukee, the experiments call for researchers to remove sections of dogs’ brains to test neurons that control breathing before the animals are killed by lethal injection, research records show.
In Cleveland, tests involve using electrodes on dogs’ spinal cords to measure cough reflexes before and after severing the cords.
In Richmond, Virginia, experiments include implanting pacemakers in dogs, then inducing abnormal heart rhythms and running the animals on treadmills to test cardiac function before euthanizing them by injection or draining their blood.
VA spokesman Curt Cashour said former secretary David Shulkin approved the continuation of the experiments on March 28, the same day he was fired by President Donald Trump.