Republican Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Ban Use of Federal Funding for Dog Testing

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Texas) on Aug. 11 introduced legislation that would bar the use of federal funding for experiments on dogs, offering a legislative response to a controversy involving cruelty to dogs for research and testing purposes.

Steube’s bill, called the “Protecting Dogs Subjected to Experiments Act,” would end and prohibit federally-funded research that involves the use of dogs.

In Oct. 2021 the White Coat Waste Project, a government watchdog group, released a bombshell exposé revealing that the National Institute of Health (NIH), as well as the NIH subdivision the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—both headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci—had used taxpayer money to fund cruel experiments on beagles.

The most well-known of these experiments involved the use of sandflies, a small biting, blood-sucking insect, on the bare skin and heads of dogs involved in the experiments.

That experiment, which took place in Tunisia at a cost to taxpayers of $375,000, according to the report, saw beagles’ heads locked in mesh cages with diseased, starving sandflies and effectively eaten alive. In a similar experiment, dogs were locked in open-air cages in the desert for days on end in order to attract sandflies and other infectious biting insects.

However, the NIAID has denied that it funded these Tunisia experiments.

A similar, though smaller-scale, version of this experiment took place in the United States itself, at the NIAID facility in Bethesda, Maryland. According to the White Coat Waste Project, the NIAID used tax dollars “to buy beagle puppies and strap capsules full of infected flies onto their bare skin” at a cost of more than $18.4 million.

Though the report lists a series of other allegations—including an NIAID-funded, generation-long, $6.1 million experiment at Iowa State University in which dogs were intentionally infected with heartworm and million-dollar experiments which cut the vocal cords out of puppies—the sandfly experiments drew the most controversy, which Internet users have named “Beaglegate.”

Now, Steube has introduced a two-page bill that would bar the NIH from using federal funds to conduct research of any kind on dogs (pdf).

“No Federal funds made available to the National Institutes of Health may be used for the purposes of conducting biological, medical, or behavioral research involving the testing of dogs,” reads the bill’s single provision.

“The NIH uses over $40 billion in taxpayer dollars annually to fund its research projects, including many recent, cruel examples using dogs. Americans don’t want to enable the heinous abuse inflicted on puppies and dogs in the name of research. My legislation will cut every dime of NIH’s federal funding for these ruthless dog experiments,” Steube said of the bill in a press release following its introduction.

The bill has won the support of the White Coat Waste Project.

“We applaud Congressman Steube for introducing the Protecting Dogs Subjected to Experiments Act and for his outstanding work to ensure taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for cruel, unnecessary, and wasteful NIH testing on puppies and dogs,” said Justin Goodman, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project.

“As White Coat Waste Project’s #BeagleGate investigations have revealed, NIH-funded white coats are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to inject puppies with cocaine, de-bark and poison dogs, infest beagles with flies and ticks, and force dogs to suffer septic shock.

“A supermajority of Americans across the political spectrum want Congress to cut NIH’s wasteful spending on dog experiments. The solution is clear: stop the money. stop the madness.”

Following the publication of the report last year, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) penned a bipartisan letter signed by around two dozen colleagues demanding answers for the experiments.

That letter, sent near the end of October 2021, requested a response by no later than Nov. 19 of the same year, but—aside from disavowing the Tunisian experiments—the NIH and NIAID did not respond to the letter.

The fate of Steube’s bill is ultimately in the hands of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who as speaker has almost unilateral control over what comes to the floor for a vote. If Pelosi refused to bring the bill for a vote, Steube could use a discharge petition to force a vote, assuming the petition could win enough support on both sides of the aisle.