USDA sued for allegedly blocking info on experiments that killed 3,000 cats
© Getty Images

A taxpayer watchdog group is reportedly suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in an attempt to gain information about government experiments that involved euthanizing thousands of cats.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the White Coat Waste Project, a right-leaning advocacy group in Virginia, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this week. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The lawsuit alleges that the USDA stopped the group's attempt to obtain information about its research via a Freedom of Information Act request. The group had asked for veterinary records for all “cats and kittens” experimented on at a federal facility in Beltsville, Md.

The Post noted that the group released documents earlier this year in which the USDA said about 100 cats are killed annually at the Maryland facility. The cats are reportedly killed after being infected with a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis.

"[The USDA] is still using cats for something they should be able to do without live animals instead of adopting them out," Justin Goodman, vice president for advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project, told the Post. "It’s institutional inertia and laziness.”

An “animal use protocol form” that explained the procedure indicated the cats are euthanized with a shot of ketamine to the heart two weeks after being infected, according to the Post.

“A total of 2,988 cats have been used in these research efforts that began in 1982,” USDA administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young wrote in May after an inquiry from Congress, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit alleges that “the USDA continues to wrongfully withhold the requested records.”

The USDA told the Post that it cannot comment on pending litigation. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Updated: 9:15 p.m.