VA halts dober­man study

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - SARAH D. WIRE sarah.wire@la­times.com Twit­ter: @sarahd­wire

WASHINGTON — Af­ter ques­tions from Cal­i­for­nia mem­bers of Congress, the West Los An­ge­les Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Med­i­cal Cen­ter has halted planned tests on nar­colep­tic dogs.

In a May let­ter to the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs in­spec­tor gen­eral, U.S. Rep. Dina Ti­tus (D-Nev.) and eight mem­bers of Los An­ge­les’ con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion de­manded to know more about the ex­per­i­ment, in­clud­ing how much it could cost and what other ex­per­i­ments the Los An­ge­les VA was con­duct­ing on an­i­mals.

The pro­posed ex­per­i­ment would have in­volved giv­ing 18 nar­colep­tic Dober­mans an­tide­pres­sants or metham­phetamine, then killing the dogs and study­ing how the drugs af­fected the pro­duc­tion of his­tamines in their brains. The an­i­mal rights group White Coat Waste Pro­ject brought the ex­per­i­ment to the at­ten­tion of law­mak­ers.

“A re­search pro­posal for breed­ing and study­ing th­ese dogs was ap­proved through VA’s Merit Re­view and the na­tional Of­fice of Re­search and De­vel­op­ment re­cently,” the VA said in a state­ment to the mem­bers of Congress. “It would have in­volved giv­ing ther­a­peu­tic doses of the drugs used to man­age nar­colepsy in hu­mans, and would have re­quired eu­thana­sia; how­ever the re­searcher has no cur­rent plans to breed fur­ther and it is ex­pected the study will not be done.”

The fa­cil­ity has been con­duct­ing sim­i­lar tests for two decades, but the VA said it has been years since an an­i­mal was eu­th­a­nized.

“This much-needed re­form will put the Los An­ge­les VA back on track to tak­ing care of our vet­er­ans with­out wast­ing re­sources to con­duct un­nec­es­sary and in­hu­mane ex­per­i­ments on dogs,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Tor­rance), one of the mem­bers who sent the May let­ter.

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