The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it's discontinuing a research program that led to the deaths of thousands of cats and included feeding the animals the meat of other cats and dogs purchased in Chinese meat markets, the agency announced in a press release.
Since 1982, government scientists had reportedly been conducting research on foodborne illnesses by infecting cats with toxoplasmosis and then euthanizing them in a laboratory operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Services in Beltsville, MD.
The agency decided to end its research program after White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog organization that works to stop taxpayer-funded experiments on animals, published its "USDA Kitten Cannibalism" report. The study details how the facility fed its lab cats tongues, brains and hearts of other cats.
"That the USDA could, for over a decade, use taxpayers' money to go around the world rounding up hundreds of kittens and puppies, killing them, and feeding their brains to cats for useless experiments highlights the disturbing lack of accountability and transparency at the agency," Justin Goodman, the vice president of White Coat Waste Project, commented to The Washington Post.
Fourteen uninfected cats will be put up for adoption by the department, giving them a chance at a normal and happy life.