Greyhounds have it rough. Their speed subjects them to the abuse of racing tracks with owners that care little about what happens to their dogs after they retire. And because greyhounds often have a universal blood type, they run the risk of neglect at largely unregulated animal blood banks.
Photographs and videos taken by a former employee of The Pet Blood Bank in Cherokee, Texas, resulted in the facility closing when PETA contacted the sheriff of San Saba Country and requested that the dogs be seized due to “being cruelly confined or unreasonably deprived of necessary food, care or shelter.”
According to an article in the The Washington Post, an investigation was launched. However, when San Saba Country Sheriff’s Office visited the facility, the deputy reported that no abuse or neglect was evident. Russ Baker, the attorney for The Pet Blood Bank, issued a statement that its closing is “a business decision” made because PETA has sullied its relationships with their customers.
The owner of The Pet Blood Bank, Shane Altizer, denied the allegations in an interview in September, saying, “If a doggy isn’t really healthy, they never make a merchandise. And if they never produce a merchandise, they are an expenditure. It is really more affordable to keep a doggy healthy.”
PETA points out that the photos and videos reportedly show dogs that are not only confined in filthy housing but often left to suffer from painful injuries, sores and dental disease. Altizer says that the images were taken before his purchase of the company in 2015. He claims that those photos are not representative of current conditions.
Veterinarian Ann Hale, the CTO of BodeVet, the nation’s largest commercial animal blood bank, visited the Texas blood bank this summer and reported that the dogs appeared happy and healthy. But after she saw the videos and photographs published by PETA, she has changed her assessment.
“It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring,” Hale said in an email to The Washington Post. “I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”
Commercial blood banks sell their products to clinics and supply companies, and most rely on greyhounds. Unfortunately, there are no federal regulations of these facilities, except for California, which requires annual inspections.
These blood banks attempt to adopt out their dogs after they have supplied blood for a limited time. The Pet Blood Bank claims they attempted to do the same, but found it difficult to find adopters.
Contrary to their claim, a complaint was filed against The Pet Blood Bank in June 2009 by the director and manager of National Greyhound Adoption Program. The organization discovered that greyhounds surrendered to the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas to be adopted into homes as pets were instead placed with The Pet Blood Bank to be used as donors.
In an October 26 statement, the National Greyhound Association stated that the greyhounds from The Pet Blood Bank will be transferred to adoption programs through the cooperation of several local and national greyhound organizations and rescues, along with the blood bank facility.
David Wolf, director of the National Greyhound Adoption Program, said, “We don’t have a problem with greyhound blood donors. We have a problem with captive greyhound blood donors.” He cited the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary hospital as an example of a pet blood bank done right, as they use a bloodmobile-based program. “Having blood donors is wonderful as long as they go home and sleep on their soft bed.”