The days of captive “blood slave” donor dogs may soon be over and force a fundamental change in the way life-saving animal blood is collected in California – but only if the governor signs a hard-won bill that is on his desk goes.
Greyhounds in their kennels at Hemopet in Garden Grove. (File photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)
Currently, only commercial “closed colony” blood banks are allowed to operate in the Golden State. One of the largest in the country – Garden Grove’s Hemopet – is rescuing greyhounds from the racing industry and keeping them on site for a year or more by siphoning their veins every few weeks before they find permanent homes.
Hemopet, a nonprofit, reported $ 3.9 million in 2019 revenue from blood product sales, according to tax returns.
Critics say the practice is cruel, outdated, and inhuman, and has been pushing California for years to adopt a human-style blood donation system for animals. Hemopet founder Jean Dodds countered that closed colonies would ensure animal health and the safety of their blood, saying the greyhounds were being treated well.
Other states have allowed community clinics to collect blood from pets for decades with little drama, making California the only state in the nation still in need of closed colonies. Assembly Bill 1282, the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act, would change that. Veterinarians could set up blood banks in the community, and healthy neighborhood dogs and cats could step into the void left by captive greyhounds and then go home with a packet of goodies. It sailed out of the Senate on Wednesday, September 1st.
“This was a three year reform of animal welfare policy that is now only one step away from implementation. I am delighted that we are finally on the verge of replacing a longstanding inhuman practice with a model program, ”said Richard Bloom, co-author of the bill, Rep. Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.
Lennon was adopted by Hemopet activists who claim the dogs bleed too often and experience trauma in small cages. Lennon is great with his eternal family, said Shannon Keith. (Courtesy Congregation Member Bloom’s office)
The effort was bipartisan, with Senate Republican leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, as an additional co-author. “As they say, the third time is a spell,” Wilk said in a statement. “This is a long overdue and necessary reform for commercial animal blood banks. I am delighted that this change – one that will save the lives of pets – is finally becoming law. “
The closed colonies did not want to and could not disappear immediately. Hemopet and its main competitor Animal Blood Resources International supply most of the animal blood products circulated in the United States. The law would invalidate their licenses 18 months after data showed that voluntary collections produce as much animal blood as closed colonies.
Shannon Keith of the Beagle Freedom Project is confident that Governor Gavin Newsom will sign this bill. In 2019, Newsom turned down an earlier attempt because there was no timetable for the abolition of closed colonies – but this bill does.
“I see things are moving forward smoothly,” she said. “We already have large veterinary clinics and humane societies on board to take action and begin the voluntary blood banking process. They are thrilled, as are the other clinics we talked to, who have faced blood shortages in the past and have had to use a dog in the clinic. “
Blood passed through a centrifuge to separate the plasma awaits processing at Hemopet in Garden Grove in 2016. (File Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register / SCNG)
Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, has also spearheaded the effort.
“After three years of working on opening community blood banks to animals and gradually phasing out the storage of caged dog blood slaves in the state of California, we are thrilled that the entire Senate has unanimously voted to pass this bill …” and look forward to Governor Newsom signing this and opening new business in our state while treating animals humanely, ”Mancuso said in a statement.
Community blood banks could be licensed starting January 1, 2022, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture would administer the new licensing program and collect data on blood production from both types of blood banks, said Nick Sackett, director of legislative matters for social compassion in lawmaking.
The hope is that the closed colonies will voluntarily go over to the community collection beforehand, he said. Hemopet and ABRI officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Others who have endorsed the bill include Rep. Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, and Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley.