The following text was taken from our FOVA letter expressing concerns around the implementation of a provision to reduce the unnecessary use of animals in research and its impact on medical research:
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Friends of VA Health Care and Medical Research coalition – better known as FOVA – we want to express our strong concerns with a provision in the Defense, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development National Security Appropriations Act, 2018 that bars the VA Medical and Prosthetics Research program from conducting research using dogs. We believe implementation of this provision impedes progress on medical research.
Animal models play an essential role in advancing our understanding of human health and disease. Animal models are used to reveal and describe basic cell and tissue function, discover disease processes, understand disease progression and test interventions to treat disease. Specifically, dog studies have advance our understanding of immunodeficiency, narcolepsy, metabolic disease, cancer, autoimmune function, vision and epilepsy. In short, animal models, including dogs, help advance science which has helped save human and animal lives.
FOVA strongly supports efforts to reduce unnecessary use of animals in all scientific research. We further support ethical treatment of all animals, including dogs, where use of animals in research is appropriate. Currently, over 99% of all VA sponsored animal studies are conducted on mice or rats. The percentage is consistent with lab animal use patterns across U.S. research institutions. VA researchers only use dogs in research when the dog model is clearly the most suitable for the scientific study. There are only 85 dogs used in VA sponsored studies – approximately 0.05% of VA lab animal use.While we understand and appreciate the efforts to reduce use of dogs in animal research, we believe the policy included in the appropriations bill will impede scientific research and unnecessarily delay research advances for our nation’s veterans.
The original letter can be viewed here.