Assemblymember Bloom Welcomes Canine Blood Bank Survivors Lennon and Skipper to the Capitol

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

AB 366- the California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act is branded “Lennon’s Law”

(Sacramento) - Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) along with Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) were joined at the Capitol today by “Lennon” and “Skipper,”  two greyhound dogs rescued from one of California’s two “closed colony” dog blood banks, to share details of their experiences as captive involuntary blood donors at a commercial animal blood bank.

California is the only state in the country that prohibits the sale of animal blood for use by veterinarians unless the blood was collected from animals held in captivity.

Assembly Bill 366 would modernize California law to reflect the advancements in veterinary medicine by phasing out these so-called “closed colonies” where dogs are kept in institutional settings, in cages and kennels. AB 366 would also authorize the commercial sale of dog blood that is collected through volunteer donor programs, much in the way humans donate blood.

“Today we have new evidence that raises serious questions about the health and welfare of dogs like Lennon and Skipper,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “California is a world leader in its humane policies and treatment of animals. I have every confidence that working together in good faith with California’s veterinarians, we can chart a course to better balance the welfare of donor and recipient dogs and the need for a robust, healthy, safe blood supply.”

Assembly Bill 366 is pending in the Assembly Agriculture committee, where it is set for a hearing and vote on April 10, 2019.

Details shared at today’s press conference by Rescue + Freedom Project, the sponsor of AB 366:

Lennon - was born and bred into the racing industry and lived in a kennel in South Florida where tick-borne disease runs rampant. When he was no longer needed by the racing industry he was sold to Hemopet  in Garden Grove, California where he was used for his blood, thereby “bled” for over a year. Lennon became extremely ill and was bled often (every 10-14 days). We witnessed the filthy confinement and lack of care. He developed skin lesions and Lupus symptoms, hyperthyroidism and chronic diarrhea causing severe dehydration. Despite these illnesses, he was still bled, thereby giving dirty blood to other dogs in need and causing Lennon to become weaker, further comporting his immune system.  Although we “adopted” Lennon, it took 2 months for them to release him to us because they still wanted to use him for bleeding. The president of Hemopet signed the majority of his veterinary paperwork given to us, although she is not a licensed veterinarian in California.

Skipper- After Lennon’s adoption, we asked if there were any other “special needs” dogs we could adopt. We were told there was a very sick dog named Skipper with kidney disease who "needed out.” But they had to bleed him another month before they would adopt him to us. Skipper was also bred and born into racing and ran several races until he was sold to Hemopet. Skipper has hyperthyroidism and kidney disease and will also be on medication for life. Never were we asked for identification, our references were not contacted and we were simply handed handfuls of medicine and instructed to give these drugs to him “for life.” We were told by a former employee that all of the dogs are on steroids to change the consistency of their blood so they bleed more easily. Our experience was that there were no veterinarians on premises and inexperienced employees routinely stick 16 gauge needles in the dogs’ necks to bleed them. Many dogs pass out during the bleeding because they are so dehydrated. Employees used the term “wash dogs” to wash diseased dogs’ blood before selling it.

Below are links to audio of Assemblymembers Bloom, Petrie-Norris and Carrillo as well as the entire AB 366 news conference:

Opening remarks from Assemblymember Bloom at today’s AB 366 news conference. (8:30)

Remarks from Assemblymember Carrillo at today’s AB 366 news conference. (2:18)

Remarks from Assemblymember Petrie-Norris at today’s AB 366 news conference. (1:33)

Entire AB 366 news conference, including remarks from - Shannon Keith, President of Rescue + Freedom Project; April Arrington, Vice President of Rescue + Freedom Project and Marina Ramons, Lennon's mom. (33:50)

CONTACT: Guy Strahl, (916) 319-2050