Activists protest Cleveland VA Medical Center after hospital allegedly received 3 new dogs for testing

CLEVELAND -- For the second time in many months, activists staged a protest in front of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center Sunday afternoon, angry over experiments happening on dogs.

FOX 8 has been following the controversial practice since last November.

The hospital which has been repeatedly under fire for the practice, allegedly recently received three puppies, some as young as nine months old, to be killed as part of experiments on their spinal cords.

A Cleveland VA spokesman said the goal of the experiments is to help veterans with ALS and paralysis.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said the canine research helped it develop a device to allow paralyzed patients to breathe without ventilators, cough on their own and speak with a stronger voice. According to the VA, this advancement would not be possible without the canine research.

Still, a Change.org petition now has more than a million signatures fighting against the experiments.

"At this point in time, there are so many advances in science and technology and so many companies and schools and hospitals that are eliminating animal testing altogether because they've discovered that there are more effective ways to do it without having to exploit any animals for it," said Amy Stewart of Cleveland Animal Safe.

Animal rights activists claim the hospital has turned down a $6,000 donation in exchange for the three dogs.  Protesters also said the Cleveland hospital is one of only three VA hospitals in the country that continues to test on dogs.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is defending its practice of testing on dogs at the hospital.

“VA will continue conducting canine research, as it is absolutely necessary to better treat life-threatening health conditions in our veterans,” said VA Chief Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Michael Fallon in a statement on Friday.

Continuing coverage of this story, here.

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