Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at White Coat Waste Project, said the group has 27,000 members in Florida, and Gaetz was at the “top of the list” for lawmakers who are fighting to end animal testing.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Congressman Matt Gaetz is set to be honored by a group that describes itself as a coalition to end taxpayer spending on “wasteful experiments on dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals that are irrelevant, slow, expensive and hinder life-saving medical advancements.”

According to the group, Gaetz received the award because he sent a letter to the National Toxicology Program criticizing its plans for “wasteful and cruel animal tests for so-called ‘abortion herbs,' ” co-sponsored the bipartisan PUPPERS Act to “end painful and wasteful dog experiments at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” and co-sponsored the Federal Accountability in Chemical Testing (FACT) Act to “improve oversight of the federal program charged with promoting the use of superior, cost-efficient alternatives to wasteful animal tests.”

Justin Goodman, vice president of advocacy and public policy at White Coat Waste Project, said the group has 27,000 members in Florida, and Gaetz was at the “top of the list” for lawmakers who are fighting to end animal testing. 

“Congressman Gaetz has been an outstanding leader on holding federal agencies accountable for wasting money on needless and painful animal experiments, including heart attack tests on puppies at the VA and force feeding mice and rats so-called ‘abortion herbs,’ ” Goodman said.

Of the 15 award recipients, four were from Florida.

Gaetz said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., that he supports ending government spending on animal testing because he is an “animal lover.”

“When I was in the state Legislature, I passed some of the toughest laws in America punishing people who do heinous things to animals,” he said. “Here in Washington, the White Coat Waste organization highlights costly animal tests that don’t yield significant results for humans, and I’ve worked with them to try to end that.”

Gaetz added one case that particularly stuck out to him was a government program that “pays for studies to figure out how to give rats herbal abortions.”

“There are a lot of very strange experiments that taxpayers fund when those experiments do harm to animals,” Gaetz said. “I’ve got two reasons to oppose them: They’re wasteful and they hurt the fellow creatures we share the planet with.”