California law protects animal blood donors

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Blood transfusion packCalifornia has enacted a law protecting animal blood donors used by state commercial blood banks. Signed Sept. 23 by Gov. Gray Davis, the bill (SB 1345) enjoyed the support of a coalition of veterinary groups, animal protection organizations, and some 300 citizens.

The new law requires that blood banks submit a protocol to the state Department of Food and Agriculture outlining how they will care for the animals at their kennels and any subcontracting facilities. The protocol must specify how often blood will be drawn, how long animals will be in the program, and how the animals will be housed, socialized, and exercised.

The protocol also must show that the kennel has implemented an adoption program for the animals after they are retired. In addition, the law requires that a licensed veterinarian or veterinary technician be on site if anesthesia is being used while blood is being collected. Annual inspections by a representative of the agriculture department are also required to check on the welfare of the animals.

Some federally inspected facilities and federal biologics licensees are exempt from the requirements, however, as are private veterinarians who maintain their own, in-office blood donor animals for use in their own practice.