California State Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) and Social Compassion in Legislation joined yesterday to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 1115, which will allow commercial blood banks to produce blood from community-sourced donor animals and eventually phase-out the closed-colony production model.
The bill will also bring transparency and oversight to animal blood banks in California. While animal blood banks help provide veterinarians with products needed for transfusions, current state law limits the supply of these lifesaving products by preventing blood collection from community-sourced animals and leaves the public in the dark about how commercial blood banks operate due to a public document request exemption.
“Far too many pets in California die because there is simply no blood to save them. I am introducing SB 1115 to expand the pool of available animal blood donors and to ensure they are treated humanely,” said Senator Wilk. “I have been working with stakeholders to address the concerns expressed by the governor in his veto message of similar legislation (SB 202) I carried last year. In it, he stated the bill did not go ‘far enough’ to ensure the safe and humane treatment of donor animals. We can all agree that adequate oversight and enforcement must be in place to meet these goals, so I am optimistic we will find common ground as we continue our dialogue.”
SB 1115 will change current law and allow pet owners to volunteer their pets to give transfusions to animals in need. It will require veterinarians to supervise community blood banks for animals, mandate testing for disease in all donors, and make most records related to commercial blood banks available to the public. The bill will also trigger the phase-out of closed-colony blood banks, which keep their animals in cages.
“Animals kept in captive-closed colonies, the main source of animal blood, are housed in cages for up to 23 hours a day and deprived of companionship, stimulation, and exercise,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “Most animal guardians would be appalled if they knew these circumstances and would gladly have their dogs give blood if it freed other poor dogs kept in captivity and totally deprived of a normal loving home.”
“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) supports community-based blood banks that allow families to volunteer their happy, healthy dogs for blood donations,” said Dr. Heather Rally, Supervising Veterinarian, PETA Foundation. “As veterinarians, we have an ethical and medical responsibility to provide safe treatments that don’t come at the expense of other animals’ well-being, which means blood for transfusions that comes from dogs who live in homes, not cages.”
“It is long overdue that we open California animal blood banking to the community-based model and phase out closed-colonies to allow animals to live a more humane life with their human companions, while also allowing veterinarians to expand their business practice,” said Dr. Sean Owens, Medical Director, UC Davis Veterinary Blood Bank, whose expertise was relied upon in the drafting of SB 1115. “I am excited to see veterinarians ramp up the community blood banking in California and finally end the animal blood supply shortage.”
Featured image: animals are kept in cages in closed colonies, where most companion animal blood is currently sourced. Image credit Allen Park, CC BY-SA 2.0.