The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has accused the Army of “misleading” the public by denying actively wounding dogs and cats in experiments after a policy change was revealed by The Post last month.
The Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) quietly allowed the shooting of the house pets as well as “nonhuman primates and marine mammals” for wound experiments in a 2020 update, The Post revealed Sept. 30.
The document said soldiers could not wound the animals for training, but it may be acceptable to do so for research purposes with approval from the service’s animal care and use review office.
USAMRDC spokeswoman Lori Salvatore claimed in a statement to The Post that the change did not affect the policy’s “intent.” However, Salvatore did not deny that the new wording allowed wounding animals for research. On Thursday, she told the Army Times that the service had “no ongoing animal wounding programs, despite claims by PETA.”
“Bottom line is we do not have any studies related to wounding cats or dogs,” Salvatore claimed.
PETA spokeswoman Tasgola Bruner said Friday that Salvatore’s comment was “misleading,” noting the spokeswoman failed to address the Army’s admission in a response to the group’s July records request that at least one wounding test had taken place since the policy tweak.
“It’s misleading for the Army to give the impression that such weapon wounding tests on animals are not ‘ongoing’ without further clarification,” she said. “In fact, such testing by the Army has recently occurred, as it confirmed the existence of at least one ‘classified’ protocol of such testing.”
The Army declined to provide PETA with the protocol document, citing an executive order exempting documents that would threaten “national security or foreign policy” from being released under freedom-of-information laws.
The animal rights group appealed the USAMRDC last month and is now waiting on a decision before potentially taking the service to court.
Whether or not such tests are being actively conducted, Bruner said the Army should ban the practice outright. PETA has sent a formal letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth asking her to make the change.
“The bottom line is that the Army’s current policy reverses precedent by allowing for the use of weapons to wound dogs, cats, primates and marine mammals in gruesome tests, and this abhorrent absurdity needs to be permanently banned,” she said.