DC – Tracy Manzer (202) 225-3531 (W) / (202) 538-0641 (C)
Katrina Rill – 650-342-0300 (W) / 650-208-7441 (C)
WASHINGTON, DC– Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) and Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03), along with 69 other bipartisan members of Congress, today sent a letter to the U.S Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter seeking information on progress towards the agency’s commitment to “reduce the use of live animals in medical training and to increase the use of validated simulation training programs.” This action is critical to improving military training and combat readiness, reducing costs, and ending the inhumane treatment of animals.
Although the Department of Defense (DOD) has stated its goal is to reduce the use of live animals in medical training, records show that some DOD facilities still intentionally injure live animals for combat medical training despite the availability of high-tech simulators that more accurately mimic human anatomy, physiology and battlefield injuries.
“The Department of Defense has the responsibility to provide the best available combat preparation to its medics. But according to its own studies, simulations are more effective than maiming and killing animals for medical training,” said Rep. Speier, who is the Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “I am pleased to join Dr. Heck in ensuring that the DOD is following its own procedures to phase out this unnecessary and cruel practice. This is a no-brainer and we expect there will be no further delays in ending this barbaric practice."
Rep. Heck added, “While I went through live animal tissue training early in my Army career, advances in human-based simulation have made this new training more accurate. Ending the use of live animals in military training and transitioning to simulations will increase military readiness and combat effectiveness, reduce training costs, and save the lives of countless animals."
In the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress voted to require DOD to formalize plans to transition from animal laboratories to sophisticated simulators and other non-animal training methods, but progress on these efforts has not been forthcoming. Additionally, since the passage of that law, numerous DOD studies have found simulation training is as effective or more so than animal-based training and more cost-efficient. Some Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force facilities have already switched to the superior technology, and the joint bipartisan letter sent today seeks updated information on where the Pentagon’s overall efforts stand.
The letter has a total of 71 signatures, including a number of military veterans. The full list of signers is: Heck, Speier, Rooney, Calvert, Costello, McSally, Coffman, Marino, Hanna, Grijalva, Johnson (GA), Napolitano, Connolly, Gallego, Hastings, Royce, Lee, Curbelo, Moore, Honda, Roybal-Allard, Van Hollen, Velázquez, Jackson Lee, Donovan, DeLauro, Conyers, Buchanan, Quigley, Gabbard, Cohen, Tonko, Murphy (FL), Veasey, Bonamici, Wilson (FL), Keating, Farr, Boyle, Esty, Pocan, Costa, Lofgren, Peters, Sires, McGovern, Beyer, Welch, Lieu, Cárdenas, Fitzpatrick, Dold, Paulsen, Lujan Grisham, Chu, Tsongas, Aguilar, Roskam, Edwards, Lewis, Brownley, Titus, Larson, Clark, Schiff, Yarmuth, DeSaulnier, Carolyn Maloney, McNerney, Sinema, Moulton.