Secretive California Canine Blood Banks use Caged Dogs as Donors

If your dog needs a blood transfusion in California, as my boy Leroy did last year, you might, like me, think the blood donor was someone’s pet. After all, as I wrote back in 2015, many states allow pet dogs to donate blood to help save the lives of other pets.

But not California.

California is the only state that requires veterinarians to purchase dog blood from so-called “closed-colony blood banks.” According to a disturbing undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), hundreds of dogs—many of them retired racing greyhounds that were sold to these commercial facilities—spend most of their time confined to kennels or crates. Their blood is drawn every 10 to 14 days.

The 200 dogs at Hemopet, a canine blood bank in Garden Grove, Calif., live in rusty kennels or crates that are too small for them to move around in, PETA reported. The staff only allows them out “to be bled, walked briefly or put into barren concrete-floored pens for a few minutes.”

As a result of their almost-constant confinement, the dogs experience hair loss, torn paw pads and nails, calluses and areas of accumulated fluid under their skin.

Several dogs had to have their tails amputated due to injuries from wagging them so hard against the metal wire of their enclosures, according to PETA. At least two dogs lost their tails when employees slammed the doors on them.

Along with living in confinement, non-stop barking—and staff yelling at the dogs to shut up—only contributed to the already stressful environment, PETA reported. Many dogs suffered from diarrhea or loose stools. Some of the dogs fought, yet after treating them for their injuries, staff returned them to the same enclosure together.

Hemopet and its president, Dr. Jean Dodds, deny PETA’s allegations and insist the dogs receive good care and are allowed outside to exercise.

The facility is registered as a nonprofit animal blood bank, greyhound rescue and adoption, and specialty veterinary diagnostic laboratory, even though it makes a big profit from selling the blood of those dogs. In fact, Hemopet sells about 40 percent of all commercial blood bank products in the United States, Dodds told the Associated Press.

What’s also alarming is that California exempts Hemopet and the state’s one other licensed animal blood bank, Animal Blood Bank Resources International (ABRI), from public records laws. That’s right: According to the Los Angeles Times, this allows the two facilities to come up with their own standards for animal care—and to keep all their records sealed.

The two blood banks are required to be inspected once each year by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), but those records are also exempt from disclosure, the Times reports.

This preposterous public records exemption has been in place since 2002, when a bill was passed that required the annual CDFA inspections. ABRI paid lobbyists $63,000 to fight this bill, the Times reports. In negotiations, the canine blood bank industry was able to add the public records exemption, claiming it was needed to avoid being targeted by animal rights groups. A legal expert told the Times this exemption actually provides these facilities with more protection from public disclosure than what’s afforded to the state’s law enforcement officers.

California veterinary hospitals have been required to buy dog blood exclusively from commercial blood banks since 1974. The reasoning is that animals kept in a licensed commercial facility are less likely to be exposed to dangerous diseases. But during the 45 years since then, veterinarians in many other states have been using blood donated from pets, with few problems.

Fortunately, California’s archaic laws could finally be changing. In January, Assemblymember Richard Bloom introduced the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act (Assembly Bill 366), which  would phase out commercial facilities and allow veterinary hospitals to use blood donated by pet dogs (and cats). More than 30 animal protection organizations and dozens of California veterinarians support the bill.

However, that bill stalled when Sen. Scott Wilk introduced the “Doggy Donor Bill” (Senate Bill 202), last month. This bill would keep the commercial blood banks open but allow the state’s veterinary hospitals to use blood from community banks. It would also remove the public records exemption.

In the meantime, the one upside is that California requires dogs kept in commercial blood banks to be adopted out, although adoption records, like everything else, are kept sealed. Hemopet claims its dogs are put up for adoption after spending about a year at the facility.

I’d personally like to thank the dog or dogs who donated the blood for my dog, Leroy’s, life-saving transfusion that helped him live for several more months. I hope each and every one of these heroes spends the rest of their lives in the loving forever homes they deserve.

Most of all, I hope California joins the 21st century and every other state by allowing pet dogs (and cats) to donate blood.

Take Action

  • Please sign and share this petition urging the National Greyhound Association to bar its members from providing dogs to commercial blood banks.
  • If you’re a pet owner outside the state of California, ask your veterinarian not to purchase dog blood from commercial dog banks.
  • Information about adopting a dog from Hemopet can be found on its website. To learn more about how to adopt a retired greyhound, visit Grey2K USA.

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.

 

Photo credit: Brummeier

114 comments

Melania P
Melania Pyesterday

I did not see this one coming from CA :-(

SEND
Sheila D
Sheila D1 days ago

Despicable. Petition signed.

SEND
Jacqueline GLYDE

Just when I thought I'd seen & heard it all. This makes me so MAD. I'm totally ashamed to be part of this human race.

SEND
Georgina Elizab M

SIGNED tyfs

SEND
joan silaco
joan silaco4 days ago

tufs

SEND
Leo C
Leo Custer6 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Richard B
Richard B6 days ago

signed

SEND
Angeles Madrazo
Angeles Madrazo7 days ago

Poor dogs! Petition already signed.

SEND
Carol C
Carol C7 days ago

Why? Why do we have to be the animal that is so cruel??? As a species, we are disgusting!! Stop this everywhere and take care of those who have no voice. Tha

SEND
Renata B
Renata B7 days ago

Petition already signed last autumn, in October. it seemed to me that I had already seen this. Awful.

SEND