Even in the divided and contentious US Congress, bipartisanship can triumph when it comes to stopping animal cruelty. In a heartening voice vote on Tuesday, the House passed an amendment to end cruel, inaccurate and unnecessary testing on dogs at the Veterans Administration (VA) for the current fiscal year. Sponsored by Reps. Dave Brat, Dina TitusTed Poe, Ro Khanna, Brian Mast, and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., the amendment was added to the Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill, which will now move to the Senate.

Ending animal testing at the VA

Reps. Brat, R-Va. and Dina Titus, D-Nev. are also sponsors of the PUPPERS Act of 2017, which would shut down Animal Testing at the VA on a permanent basis.

In his blog post supporting the amendment, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) director Wayne Pacelle wrote that animal testing at the VA often involved botched surgeries, induced heart attacks, and other invasive and painful procedures. The dogs were then euthanized.

At one of the VA facilities carrying out the research on dogs, the McGuire Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, the VA’s own Office of Research and Oversight reported extensive violations of federal animal welfare regulations, internal policies, and research protocols.

Alternatives are more humane and more accurate

The dogs most often used in animal testing are beagles, because they are small in size and have gentle temperaments, making them easy to handle. However, animal rights advocates and others argue that there are more humane, less expensive and more accurate methods of testing medical methods and drugs.

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Initiatives like the The Living Heart Project and the Human Toxicology Project Consortium (HTPC) build alliances of stakeholders to move away from outdated and cruel animal testing towards more humane and more accurate, human-relevant models of research. 21st century technology can produce more accurate testing models that do not involve animal testing and cruelty.

The White Coat Waste Project has taken the lead in supporting the amendment, the PUPPERS bill and other initiatives calling for an end to taxpayer-funded animal testing. Another legislative priority for the HSUS is the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790), which would end animal testing in the cosmetics industry. It has 54 co-sponsors including Reps. Martha McSally, Don Beyer, Ed Royce, Tony Cárdenas, Frank LoBiondo, and Paul Tonko.