CLEVELAND - Deadly canine experiments performed at the Cleveland VA Medical Center were temporarily halted according to a VA spokesperson.
"[The] VA will continue conducting canine research, as it is absolutely necessary to better treat life threatening health conditions in our veterans," a spokesperson said in a statement to FOX 8.
One canine study is currently active at the facility however no experiments are underway at this time. According to a spokesperson, the dogs are anesthetized for the research and do not wake up.
The research underway since 2014, is studying how to help veterans with spinal cord injuries and other neuromuscular diseases like ALS and stroke cough effectively to eliminate a potentially deadly build up of fluids.
In February, FOX 8 reported that additional dogs were scheduled to arrive at the center for experiments. At the time a VA spokesperson said the experiments would continue until the study is complete.
Amy Stewart, the co-founder of Cleveland Animal Save, organized several protests about the testing this year and said they offered to pay for the release of three dogs.
"It's incredibly heartbreaking and frustrating that despite all our efforts they do still plan to bring more dogs into the facility for testing," said Stewart.
According to records obtained by FOX 8, the final delivery of a multi-year order for more than 20 dogs bred for research ceased in April.
A VA spokesperson said that since then canine research in Cleveland recently led to the "development of a device that allows paralyzed patients to breathe without a ventilator, cough on their own and communicate with a stronger voice, leading to increased independence and significantly reducing respiratory infections and deaths."
Stewart said she believes there are better alternatives to help veterans.
"We don't want the veterans to suffer either," explained Stewart. "We're not choosing the dogs over the lives of veterans but the fact is there are alternatives."
A Cleveland VA spokesperson says this advancement would not be possible using other techniques including computer simulations or smaller animal species. It is not clear when canine experiments could resume at the facility.
In February, Congress re-introduced the Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act of 2019, commonly referred to as the Puppers Act. The bill prohibits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from conducting medical research causing significant pain or distress to dogs.