CVMA and California veterinarians clash over blood banks

A new bill looks to put an end to closed-colony blood banks

A showdown is brewing between the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and a group of veterinarians over whether closed-colony blood banks should continue to operate.

Known as the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act, AB 366 bill is aimed at changing the existing law requiring animal blood banks collect blood exclusively from so-called “closed colonies.” Critics say donor animals are confined to cages and kennels for months or years. Instead, the bill looks to allow blood banks to collect animal blood in a community-based, voluntary setting, similar to programs in place in other states.

The bill is getting support from 72 veterinarians, including practitioners and medical directors at some of California’s largest veterinary hospitals, and faculty and clinicians at the University of California, Davis.

“The current situation in California is egregiously unbalanced,” they say in a letter to California’s assembly agriculture committee. “Hundreds of dogs—including many who have already endured months or years of suffering in the greyhound racing industry—are kept confined for months or years in situations that range from inadequate to appalling. Lack of sufficient oversight and inspection, coupled with a lack of transparency, has resulted in years of suffering by dogs in California’s closed colonies. There is no public appetite, nor compelling veterinary necessity for continuing this model, however much effort could go into reforming them. We have a tested, viable alternative that is fundamentally sounder at balancing the interests of all affected parties, canine and human alike.”

CVMA says it opposes the bill, adding the move to community-based programs could threaten the source of all animal blood for practices in the state.

“Veterinarians rely on the two existing blood banks in California to provide safe whole blood and blood products in the quantities needed to meet the critical breeds of their patients,” CVMA said in a letter to the same committee.

“To ensure the same level of safety, donors in the community-based model would need to be tested every time they donate blood. Even with repeated testing, there is no guarantee every disease a dog could contact would be covered.”

Animal Blood Resources International, supplier of animal blood and component products, says that while it opposes the bill, it is also open to the idea of community-based programs should closed-colony programs cease to operate.

“While ABB would support legislation clearing a path for community blood banking, which would help alleviate a perpetual shortage, such community blood banks must assure the quality and safety of the blood they produce, and meet record-keeping and husbandry standards, which current licensed blood banks are required to meet. ABB opposes AB 366 because it threatens the existing supply of canine blood and would unjustifiably permit community blood banks to operate with lower or no standards.”

If the bill passes, all closed-colony blood banks will stop operating by 2022.

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6 thoughts on “CVMA and California veterinarians clash over blood banks

  1. Dogs are social animals who need companionship and exercise. Greyhounds confined in “closed colonies” are deprived of everything they need most, kept in tiny cages, and treated as living blood factories. This is unacceptable. Veterinarians can and should obtain blood for transfusions from dogs who live in homes, are well cared for, and are not stressed by donating.

  2. Put me in the camp that says this needs to be abolished, not reformed. Dogs belong in a loving home, not in a “closed colony.” It’s the 21st century–get with it.

    1. Just wait until your dog is hemorrhaging and needs a transfusion, no one ever sees it coming, and there’s either no blood available or such short supply that it costs you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Of course you’ll just blame your “greedy vet”. Careful what you wish for.

  3. The people who support the closed-colony are people who make money from that system and who are able to close their eyes and minds as to the suffering of the dogs who are kept there. Shame on the CVMA.

  4. Should it not be the welfare of the animals that we are concerned about versus the benefit and need they provide? It’s not about being a blood donor or not a blood donor, it’s about quality of life. Some blood donor operations have an exceptional quality of life, yes better than some beloved family owned pets. I don’t think eliminating closed colony banks or passing legislation against them will solve the problem. Need to ask yourself “Is being a donor the problem or is the level of care given (or lack there of) the issue? Set the politics and emotional tyranny aside and look at the mutual goal.