California blood bank bill helps to relegate pound seizure to history
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2002:
SACRAMENTO, California–The once ubiquitous and unrestrained
biomedical use of homeless dogs and cats acquired from public pounds
receded farther into history on October 3, as California Governor
Gray Davis signed into law SB 1345, by state senator Sheila Kuehl.
“Establishing the first-ever protections for animal blood
donors used by commercial blood banks in California,” according to
United Animal Nations spokesperson Pat Runquist, SB 1345 “was
supported by a broad coalition of veterinary groups, animal
protection organizations, and more than 300 individuals, many of
whom live near blood bank kennels in Butter and Glenn counties in
Northern California,” Runquist continued.
“SB 1345 was introduced,” Runquist added, “after these
residents raised concerns about the treatment of animals housed at
the blood bank kennels, and after animal protection groups including
UAN discovered there were no laws or regulations governing the care
or treatment of animal blood donors.”
Most of the animal blood donors at the California
laboratories in question were reportedly adopted from local animal
control shelters–and several of the laboratories sell animal blood
products throughout the U.S.
From the start of common use of blood transfusions in
connection with surgery on animals until the rise of the animal
rights movement in the early 1980s, veterinarians commonly obtained
and exsanguinated doomed shelter animals as their blood sources. The
“donor” animals were literally sacrificed to help the pets of paying
This practice fell into disrepute parallel to the growth of
opposition to selling shelter animals for use in testing, teaching,
and biomedical research. Instead, many vet clinics began purchasing
blood from the pets of staff members, in exchange for credit against
future veterinary care. By the late 1980s, exchanges of blood for
sterilization surgeries and vaccinations were a common way for small
shelters and some individuals to run low-key dog and cat
The increasing longevity of household pets and growing
willingness of petkeepers to pay for complex surgical treatments
rapidly raised veterinary demand for blood during the past decade,
however, in turn creating a market for commercial suppliers of dog
and cat blood, and reviving memories of the bad old days when the
“donor” animals were used and discarded.
In recent years, animal shelters that provide dogs and cats
for use in any kind of laboratory procedure have almost always tried
to offset negative public response by guaranteeing the animals an
adoptive home afterward and linking the practice to obtaining
necessary services on behalf of other shelter animals.
But rather than even try to explain the arrangements,
Washing-ton D.C. animal control chief Peggy Keller halted loans of
impounded animals as blood donors in March 2001, as soon as she
learned that the kennel contractor, the Washington Humane Society,
was allowing such loans to be made.
The city council in Clarkston, Washington, during the last
week of August 2002 voted to continue selling animals from the
Clarkston Animal Shelter to the Washington State University
veterinary school at Pullman, after Spokane quit supplying animals
to the vet school in April. Spokane formerly sold more than 100 dogs
and cats per year to WSU, while Clarkston in 2001 sold just 19,
under a contract renewed annually since 1977. With Spokane no longer
providing animals, Clarkston was expected to sell more in 2002–but
Spokane County animal control director Nancy Hill told John K. Wiley
of Associated Press that she hoped more terminal surgical teaching
exercises would be replaced by expansion of an existing program
through which students learn surgery by sterilizing shelter animals
who will be offered for adoption.
WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital dean Warwick Bayly told
Wiley that WSU had donated more than 500 sterilization surgeries to
shelters in recent years, at cost of about $50,000.
The Clarkston decision to continue supplying animals for lab
use bucked a national trend evident since laws mandating the sale of
shelter animals to laboratories began to be repealed, starting in
New York state in 1976. By now, most communities just ending such
sales are longtime holdouts, like St. Joseph County, Michigan,
which ceased in August 2002; Orange County Animal Services in
Florida, which for 10 years provided cats for emergency medical
technician training program intubation practice, followed by
euthanasia, at Valencia Community College, but quit in May 2002;
and the Inland Valley Humane Society, of Pomona, Calif-ornia,
which in February 2002 quit supplying dogs and cats to local vet tech
training programs after 30 years.
The increasing reluctance of animal shelters to provide dogs
and cats for lab use has in turn encouraged teaching institutions to
do less terminal surgery.
The University of Pennsyl-vania School of Veterinary Medicine
in August 2002 was lauded by the American Anti-Vivisection Society
for eliminating the last small animal terminal surgery course it had
offered, at instigation of new course director Dorothy Brown, DVM.
Instead of doing terminal surgery on two dogs and one cat, students
will now do recovery surgery on one dog and one cat, and will
sterilize one dog each of the Pennsylvania SPCA.
“Animals involved in the procedures should not experience any
negative long-term effects,” American AV promised in a press
release. “The animals will then be available for adoption either
through the veterinary school or the SPCA.”
Earlier in 2002, the Physicians Committee for Respon-sible
Medicine reported that a survey of 16 medical schools found that 11
no longer use live animals in teaching. The University of British
Columbia and Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland,
reported using pigs; the University of Western Ontario in London,
Ontario, said it uses animals but did not specify the species; and
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and Laval University in
Quebec did not respond.
California PCRM member Jerry Vlasak, M.D., told Canadian
Press that only 34 of the 126 U.S. medical schools still use live
animals in teaching exercises.