WASHINGTON (WCBD) – U.S. Representative Nancy Mace is leading a group of 23 other bipartisan congressional leaders in demanding answers about money that was spent on puppy experimentation.
A letter addressed to Dr. Antony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, notes “grave concern” over reports of what lawmakers say are costly, cruel, and unnecessary taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs commissioned by the NIAID.
Members of Congress say documents that were obtained by a taxpayer watchdog, White Coat Waste Project, and media coverage spanning October 2018 – February 2019, revealed NIAID spent $1.68 million in taxpayer money on drug tests that involved 44 beagle puppies, of which were between six and eight months old.
“The commissioned tests involved injecting and force-feeding the puppies an experimental drug for several weeks, before killing and dissecting them,” the letter stated.
One concern shared by lawmakers was an invoice to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases which included a line item for “cordectomy,” a move the Cancer Treatment Center of America described as a surgical procedure that removes part, or all, the vocal cords and is commonly performed on those with laryngeal cancer.
Leaders claim the move is to prevent the puppies from barking, howling, or crying. “This cruel procedure – which is opposed with rare exceptions by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and others – seems to have been performed so that experimenters would not have to listen to the pained cries of the beagle puppies,” the letter said.
A move lawmakers called a “reprehensible misuse of taxpayer funds.”
Documents say the study was done to “provide data of suitable quality and integrity to support application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies,” but Congressmembers note the FDA recently stated it “does not mandate that human drugs be studied in dogs.”
They now want answers as to how many drug tests involving dogs have been funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since January 2018, and how much taxpayer money was spent on the testing.
Lawmakers also want to know what the NIAID has done to explore the use of non-canine and non-animal alternatives to meet FDA data requirements, and if the organization has ever made any dogs available for adoption after the experimentation or testing process.
Representative Mace is joining others in calling for Dr. Fauci’s resignation as she said he should be held accountable. She went on, “considering the lies that Dr. Fauci has told regarding COVID-19, whether it was the amount of funding that was going to the Wuhan Lab, whether it was not American tax dollars we are paying for ‘gain of function research’. We’ve been misled on a number of issues. I think even previous to this letter, there were grounds to force his resignation at the NIH because of the misinformation that has been given by the NIH and by Dr. Fauci himself to the American people.”
Congresswoman Mace is urging those in the Lowcountry to share her letter with friends, neighbors, and those in their communities who are other different congressional districts.
The NIH sent News 2 the following statement:
All animals used in NIH-funded research are protected by laws, regulations, and policies to ensure the smallest possible number of subjects and the greatest commitment to their welfare. Institutions receiving funds, including those in other countries, must conduct research that involves animals in accordance with the Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The proposed use of animals in research is evaluated during peer review for both contract and grant proposals, and animals used in research are to be provided with appropriate anesthesia and veterinary care. The principles for what is — and is not — allowed are governed both by regulations administered by the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and the grantee institution’s animal care and use committee (IACUC), and these principles apply to the situations described below.
With respect to the allegations by the White Coat Waste Project:
- The images of beagles were drawn from a manuscript published in July 2021 in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The manuscript mistakenly cited support from NIAID, when in fact NIAID did not support this specific research shown in the images of the beagles being circulated. NIAID has funded a separate project involving the study of a vaccine to prevent leishmaniasis, a serious parasitic disease transmitted by sand flies that poses a threat in particular to US troops and other personnel, as well as US military dogs, in areas where the disease is endemic. In the NIAID-supported study, twelve dogs were immunized with the experimental vaccine at the Pasteur Institute of Tunis, and then let out in an enclosed open space during the day, during high sandfly season in an area of Tunisia considered to be hyper-endemic for canine leishmaniasis. The goal of the research was to determine if the experimental vaccine prevented the dogs from becoming infected in a natural setting. Developing a vaccine to prevent leishmaniasis is an important research goal. In this case, the researchers are supported through multiple different funding sources. The NIAID grant ended in July 2021. White Coat Waste also noted a 2016 leishmaniasis project conducted in NIAID laboratories; dogs were the necessary animal model for the research, and the researchers ensured that the dogs experienced no discomfort.
- The research described by the White Coat Waste Project at the University of Georgia focuses on lymphatic filariasis (LF), a mosquito-transmitted parasitic disease that affects millions of people in many countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, LF is the second leading cause of human disability in endemic countries. People disfigured by LF are frequently unable to work because of their disability. No licensed prophylactic vaccine is available to prevent LF; the development of an effective vaccine against the parasites that cause LF could prevent significant disease and suffering globally. The vaccine candidate under investigation in the NIAID-supported project at the University of Georgia targets a protein that is common among multiple species of filarial parasites. It potentially could be used to prevent LF in humans as well as filarial infections, including heartworm, in dogs. Dogs are a natural host for the B. pahangi parasite and exhibit clinical and pathologic changes like those seen in human filarial infection. As such, they represent an appropriate model for testing this investigational vaccine prior to evaluation in humans.
- There also are concerns raised about work involving beagles under an NIAID contract for preclinical pharmacology and toxicology services. Under this contract, the contractor conducts testing as required in animal models by the FDA, in compliance with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines and in a facility accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) or its equivalent. Vocal cordectomies, conducted humanely under anesthesia, may be used in research facilities where numerous dogs are present. This is to reduce noise, which is not only stressful to the animals but can also reach decibel levels that exceed OSHA allowable limits for people and can lead to hearing loss.