Attention Dog Lovers: On the PUPPERS Act

Between the two sides of politics attacking each other, whatever craziness is occurring in the White House, and the seemingly apocalyptic stories that grace our media on a daily basis, it rarely seems anything remotely positive is on the table for politics. I usually casually peruse current events, just to keep myself knowledgeable and up-to-date. One thing I am undoubtedly passionate about, however, and what can get me involved in politics, are animal issues. In May of 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed legislation that voided laws in Phoenix and Tempe that pet stores sell only rescue animals, much to the dismay of animal advocates. Aside from the one-off stories, like Arizona’s, animal welfare rarely seems to make it to the light of day in anything political, and, when it does, it seems to serve as a “placeholder”. That may change, though, with the introduction of the PUPPERS Act of 2017.

Yes, dog lovers and Dog Rates fans, you read that right. The “Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act of 2017”, shortened to the PUPPERS Act of 2017, is an amendment to title 38 of United States Code “to prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from conducting medical research causing significant pain or distress to dogs.” It was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 12 and referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs the same day.

Thus far, this bipartisan bill states that “in carrying out research, the Secretary may not purchase, breed, transport, house, feed, maintain, dispose of, or experiment on dogs as part of the conduct of any study that causes significant pain or distress.”

According to an article with Circa, the bill comes after animal rights group White Coat Waste Project, under a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained documents which seemed to detail “cruel medical tests on dogs at the McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond.”

In a statement, which can be found on his website, Representative Dave Brat (R-Va.) said: “The revelations regarding the dog laboratory testing at McGuire VAMC are disturbing and the descriptions are almost on the scale of torture…I believe there are alternative and more humane methods that can lead to similar medical breakthroughs…Our bill sets clearly defined expectations for medical research and will prohibit research at taxpayer-funded VA facilities that causes significant pain or distress for puppies.”

According to the bill, the phrase “significant pain and distress” refers to “any study classified to pain category D or E by the Department of Agriculture.”

In the same Circa article, medical researchers claim dogs are essential to developing the medical breakthroughs Rep. Brat mentioned in his statement. Scientists cite specific medical developments that canine research has assisted with, such as the pacemaker and discovery of insulin, and the Director of the Center for Comparative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine feels the public and supporting lawmakers have been misled.

However, since its move to the House Committee on July 12, no further action on the bill has occurred. As of August 15, 2017, though, there are 37 cosponsors for the Act, and it remains a bipartisan bill.

It will be interesting to see how this bill progresses. Keep your ears perked.

 

[This article first appeared on Odyssey.]