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Los Angeles VA ends testing on narcoleptic dogs after California members of Congress question it

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 affect the production of histamines — the body's response to allergens — in their brains. The animal rights group White Coat Waste Project, which obtained a 2016 research application for the experiment through a Freedom of Information Act request, brought the approved 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 in the statement it has been years since an animal was euthanized. 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), one of the members who sent the May letter, said he is relieved the experiments have ended.

“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,” Lieu said in a statement.

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