The federal agency headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci canceled a plan to start new tests of allergy medicine on dogs, according to a Republican senator and a nonprofit organization on Wednesday.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Fauci were put under fire last year over federally funded experiments using dogs. At the time, documents suggested the agency spent $$1.7 million on animal experimentation between October 2018 and February 2019 that force-fed beagles an experimental drug for several weeks.
Lawmakers last year expressed horror at a procedure used in the experiment. They noted that an invoice to NIAID involved an item called a “cordectomy,” also known as devocalization or de-barking. The procedure involves slitting a dog’s vocal cords to remove its ability to bark, howl, or cry.
And in May of this year, reports said that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had allocated $1.8 million to test more experimental drugs on beagles, prompting a letter from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to use other testing models. Ernst said she received a letter from NIAID and the NIH last week saying those tests wouldn’t be carried out.
“Dr. Fauci was barking up the wrong tree when he decided to use government dollars on dog testing,” Ernst said in a statement. “These inhumane practices have no place in our government—much less on the taxpayer’s dime. Thankfully, after voicing our concerns and shining a light on these heinous tactics, taxpayers can rest easy knowing their hard-earned money is not going towards dog abuse.”
A company known as the Inimmune Corporation was asked by NIAID to perform experiments on dogs and puppies that included feeding them experimental drugs for several months.
“Although the contract to Inimmune Corporation proposed the use of murine and canine preclinical animal models, after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company elected to proceed using two rodent models only,” Fauci wrote to Ernst, reported the Washington Free Beacon. “No experiments utilizing the canine model are being conducted under this contract.”
Fauci then said that 60 million people in the United States have allergies and noted that numerous patients cannot “achieve adequate relief with available medications, resulting in substantial social and economic burdens,” the letter said.
“I want to assure you that NIH and NIAID take the welfare of animals in research very seriously,” Fauci added. “NIH has established guidance, procedures, and protocols to ensure that … scientists maintain the highest possible standards for the humane care and use of animals in research.”
NIAID has not responded to a request for comment.
In Ernst’s announcement, the White Coat Waste Project group said that “Fauci’s ‘runny nose’ experiments on beagle puppies have been completely canceled.”
Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.