Why are beagles used for toxic testing? Fauci questioned over horror experiments on dogs

Lawmakers are asking Fauci to detail the federal government’s involvement in experiments that use dogs to test new drugs


                            Why are beagles used for toxic testing? Fauci questioned over horror experiments on dogs
Fauci comes under fire for experimenting on Beagles (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

A group of lawmakers, including prominent members of both Republican and Democratic parties, has signed a letter calling on Dr  Anthony Fauci and his agency to answer questions on funding for experiments involving canine testing. The letter was spearheaded by Rep Nancy Mace of South Carolina.

It calls for Fauci and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to detail the federal government’s involvement in experiments that use dogs to test new drugs before they reach the market. The White Coat Waste Project, a conservative nonprofit organization, first accused Fauci of infecting dozens of beagles with disease-causing parasites to test an experimental drug on them.

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White Coat Waste claimed that 44 beagle puppies were used in a Tunisia, North Africa, laboratory, and some of the dogs had their vocal cords removed, allegedly so scientists could work without incessant barking. "Our investigators show that Fauci’s NIH (National Institutes of Health) division shipped part of a $375,800 grant to a lab in Tunisia to drug beagles and lock their heads in mesh cages filled with hungry sandflies so that the insects could eat them alive," White Coat Waste alleged. "They also locked beagles alone in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights to use them as bait to attract infectious sand flies."

A White Coat Waste spokesperson told The Independent that the group’s investigations included documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as well as some publicly available reports detailing the experiments. The letter from the members of Congress refers to one in which young dogs were given experimental vaccines before being killed and dissected.

Why are Beagles used for experiments?

There have been plenty of incidents where beagles were caught being used for experiments. In 2016, the Pharmaceutical Testing Laboratory in Bangalore was forced to free more than 150 beagles, who were kept locked in for testing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, participates in the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As per the American Anti-Vivisection Society, which aims to end the use of animals in science through education, advocacy, and the development of alternative methods, the most common breed of dog used for experiments are beagles “but not because scientists view them as the best model for human disease.”

It says that “beagles are convenient to use because they are docile and small, allowing for more animals to be housed and cared for using less space and money.”

The Washington Post reported earlier this year that many of the beagles used for experiments in labs and universities arrive as puppies. The majority come from breeders who sell directly to the testing facilities, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Between 2015 and 2019, the National Institutes of Health awarded more than $200 million to 200 institutions for projects using dogs as experimental models, according to a report from the Humane Society of the United States. 

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