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Veterans Affairs Ends Experiments On Cats In West LA

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The Veteran's Administration now says it has ended experiments on cats in West LA — at least for now.

It comes a week after investigative reporter David Goldstein broke the story about your tax dollars being used to fund experiments.

Now he has new pictures from inside the lab.

It's the first time we see what's going on inside the VA's lab, where they've been experimenting on cats for years.

At first glance, this looks like it could be anyone's pet cats playing with a laser pointer. But look closely.

These cats have electronic devices surgically screwed into their skulls. Part of taxpayer-funded research. Experimenting on kittens and cats. At a secret lab in West LA.

This person worked at the lab and would only talk if we concealed their identity.

Whistleblower: "The way the animals were treated gave me nightmares"

Goldstein: "Gave you nightmares?"

Whistleblower: "Yes"

Whistleblower: "It's sort of sickening to look at? It's very sickening"

Whistleblower: "If veterans saw what was happening, I think they would feel like I do. I think they would feel sick"

Take Mau, believed to be this cat in the photo.

VA documents in 2019 describe her as happy. Mau was fitted with a cranial implant screwed into her skull as part of taxpayer-funded research for sleep disorders.

A subsequent document shows her with excellent temperament. But something goes wrong. The implant dislodged and Mau developed an infection. Notes say they recommend euthanasia. And the former employee says Mau's not the only one.

Whistleblower: "There were so many of those skull implants that got infected, it doesn't seem right...there has to be a better way."

And even when it goes well the end result is the same. Take Artemis, this black and white cat.

Documents described him as purring. Friendly and curious.

He was also outfitted with the head implant. And after three years of research--- documents show Artemis is euthanized due to completion of the study.

Justin Goodman is with the White Coat Waste Project, an animal rights group that sued the VA to obtain information on the secret cat experiments.

"This place is a nightmare for cats and kittens," he said. "It needs to be shut down immediately and sent to the litter box where it belongs"

The va responded saying they follow federal laws, policies, and guidelines.

And are proud of the accomplishments of our researchers on behalf of veterans.

While they retain the authority to perform research in animals in the future.

The West LA studies have reached their programmed completion, meaning experimenting on cats at least for now has ended.

Members of Congress like Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus don't buy it.

"We want to be sure that not only is the financing not there but it's in law that they can't continue," she said.

She's going to be introducing legislation along with Florida Rep. Brian Mast that would pull financing for any cat experiments at the VA.

"Taking your tax dollars and sending them to the VA so they can drill a hole in the skull of a cat, to me that's a bridge too far," said Mast.

While the end of the program in West LA is good news for animal lovers, it does come with a price. The last of the three cats we showed you on the video was euthanized a few weeks ago.

And while the VA has ended cat experiments in LA, there's no word if they've ended experiments at other locations.

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