GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — The animal rights group PETA alleges dogs at one of the nation’s largest canine blood banks are mistreated, but the non-profit that runs the Southern California facility says the retired racing greyhounds are well-cared for and save other dogs’ lives.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent complaints this week to California and local authorities alleging the 200 greyhounds kept at Hemopet don’t receive proper care and are cooped up nearly all day in pens too small for their size. The group contends confining dogs in a facility to draw their blood is wrong and says they should be placed in homes and only donate blood if their owners opt to bring them in.
Hemopet, which has operated for decades, said the dogs are well-cared for and get regular walks and outdoor play time at its 1.5 acre Orange County campus. The organization said the greyhounds participate in a state-regulated canine blood donor program for about 10 months before they are placed in well-screened adoptive homes.
Veterinary experts said there is a demand for canine blood to treat ill pets and those in need of emergency surgery. How to meet this need, however, is subject to debate.
“Community” blood banks rely on walk-in pet donors while “closed” banks such as Hemopet require dogs to live on-site while giving blood. The controlled setting ensures blood is free of diseases.
California requires the closed model be used for commercial canine blood banks, said Hemopet’s president Dr. Jean Dodds. She said she believes pets living in people’s homes would need to be retested for disease before each blood donation to provide a comparable level of safety, and even then it might not be possible to safeguard the supply.
Hemopet supplies about 40 per cent of the commercial blood bank products sold in the United States and is one of two such authorized facilities in California, Dodds said.
Dodds said the greyhounds would be killed if they weren’t rescued from the racing industry. Hemopet provides medical care and spays and neuters the dogs and screens them to assess whether they are suitable donors. Greyhounds often have a “universal” blood type, she said, meaning it can be used for any canine transfusion.
“There’s some people who just think doing anything with animals are bad,” she said. “What if your own animal needed a blood transfusion? What would you do?”
In a letter to California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, PETA alleged that dogs’ tails, paws and nails are injured in small cages where they’re kept 23 hours a day, and blood is drawn at times from animals suspected of illness. PETA — which has called for an end to greyhound racing — said its allegations were based on reports from an undisclosed eyewitness.
“She doesn’t put them up for adoption until she is done bleeding them and that is outrageous,” said Lisa Lang, PETA’s senior vice-president, referring to Dodds. “They are living, breathing dogs who deserve to live in loving homes like any other.”
PETA provided photos and video showing the …read more