BELTSVILLE, Md. - An alleged secret government program that kills dozens of kittens in the name of research has been exposed by a watchdog group who said the taxpayer funded experiments have been going on for the last 50 years.
Justin Goodman, the vice president of the watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, joined us on FOX 5 Wednesday, one day after Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., announced that he sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue expressing concerns about the alleged killing of hundreds of kittens at a U.S. Department of Agriculture test lab in Prince George's County in Maryland.
In the letter, Bishop stated that hundreds of kittens are fed parasite-infected raw meat for two to three weeks and then killed by "incineration." Bishop said the USDA admits the kittens are healthy at the end of the study.
In just 24 hours, more than 20,000 people from all over the country have written letters to Congress demanding this practice come to an end.
Bishop said his office has yet to receive a direct response from Perdue, but they are examining all their options, including legislation.
“It's a very vile process that should shock the conscience of anybody who reads the report and these are U.S. taxpayer dollars that pay for this experimental process," said Bishop. "There has got to be a better way and it can’t involve doing this to cats.”
"Taxpayers are footing the bill even though veterinary authorities believe these experiments are difficult, expensive and unethical and there's more modern ways to be doing research," Goodman said.
The goal of the research is to try and prevent a parasite from being passed on to human from cats, but Goodman said that it is very unlikely that scenario would ever take place.
"It's very unlikely that a human will ever contract toxoplasmosis from a cat," he said. "Most people get from it eating bad meat. It's a myth that dates back to the '70s when this research started that people are getting it from having contact with cats."
Goodman said that killing the healthy cats at the end of the experiments is unnecessary and that the kittens could be put up for adoption.
"We've uncovered essentially a kitten slaughter house at the USDA being funded by taxpayers," Goodman said, adding that the USDA breeds up to 100 kittens a year and has used "scaremongering" to defend the outdated tests.
"This project deserves to end up in the litter box of history," Goodman said and added that he has received bipartisan support in Congress.
The current protocol for the project expires on May 31, so a resolution is expected by the end of the month, according to Goodman.