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BLOOD SLAVES: New California legislation could free dogs that supply the blood sold to most animal hospitals

The dogs are bled every couple of weeks, sometimes more frequently, and their blood is sold for millions of dollars to animal hospitals, which use it for surgeries.

TERI SFORZA: They’ve been dubbed “blood slaves.” Rows of sleek greyhounds peeking, wide-eyed, from wire pens. They escaped the punishing racing world to be kept captive in “closed-colony” animal blood banks for as long as a year. They’re bled every couple of weeks — sometimes more frequently — and their blood is sold for millions of dollars to animal hospitals, which use it for surgeries that save other animals’ lives…

Closed colonies are the only legal way to obtain vital animal blood in California — a practice denounced as cruel and inhumane by activists who’ve been trying to end it for years. In 2019, they came quite close: A bill that would have legalized a human-like, volunteer animal blood donation system sailed through the Legislature with unanimous support and landed on the governor’s desk — where it was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom because it didn’t go far enough…

Enter Assembly Bill 1282, a bipartisan answer to Newsom’s call. Dubbed the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act, it would allow commercial blood banks to use volunteer dogs and cats for donations rather than captives, and eventually phase out the closed-colony production model completely…

In addition to adding a time frame for phasing out closed colonies — within 12 months after data shows that volunteer blood banks are producing enough to allow the switch — the new bill doles out responsibility for managing the new system to both the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Veterinary Medical Board.

The vet board would control the licensing and registration of veterinarians who set up community blood banks to accept donations from volunteer animals, with permit fees set at $1,000 to cover the cost of inspections. The CDFA would continue its oversight of the blood and blood component products. The bill also would make public details that are now kept secret — such as how much blood is actually collected…

“We’re the only state that doesn’t allow community blood donations — it’s ridiculous,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, who has been trying to change the law for years… Regular pet owners might soon be able to volunteer their own Fidos and Fluffies to become lifesaving donors — after mandatory health screenings. Veterinarians would supervise new community blood banks… The bill must be heard in the Assembly by both the Business and Professional Committee and the Committee on Agriculture, and negotiation over details continues.

California has only two commercial animal blood banks, but they provide the overwhelming majority of the nation’s animal blood supply. One is the for-profit Animal Blood Resources International, which has offices in Northern California and Michigan. The other is the nonprofit Hemopet in Garden Grove, which has drawn the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Officials for both companies declined comment on the current bill, but Hemopet CEO Jean Dodds has argued that California requires licensed, closed-colony animal blood banks because they “provide a medically superior and safer blood supply.” SOURCE…

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