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Discarded Greyhounds used by canine blood banks

Animal Rights Awareness Week: a call to respect their rights and love them

Every year during the third week in June (19 – 25, 2023), Animal Rights Awareness Week seeks to bring attention to the eternal fight against animal abuse. It is therefore timely to take a closer look at a practice that many are still unaware of – the use of ex-racing Greyhounds for canine blood banks and experimentation.

Where does your pet's blood transfusion come from?

Over the last four years, almost 800 ex-racing Queensland Greyhounds have been sent to blood banks and used for experiments in Australian laboratories and universities. This practice goes directly against the concept of animal rights.

In 2019, Humane Research Australia (HRA) discovered around 78 Greyhounds were used for dental, kidney and cardiac experiments in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Discarded by the racing industry, these Greyhounds were cruelly abused by these experiments.

For example, researchers from Monash University and Alfred Hospital used five Greyhound dogs in a series of experiments with rotary blood pumps implanted in their hearts. The dogs were pre-medicated with acetylpromazine (used in animals as a means of chemical restraint) and atropine (a muscle relaxant), and then anaesthetised. No details on the ultimate fate of the Greyhounds is given.

HRA maintains these practices are unethical, as these former racing greyhounds have already been subjected to stress, injury and anguish from racing. The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG) is calling for a stop to this exploitation of Greyhounds who have the right to protection and the chance for adoption.

“It’s just so wrong for Greyhounds – already used and abused by the racing industry – to be then dumped at these facilities where their lives are ended,” said Ms Andrea Pollard, president, Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds.
“What a miserable end to an already miserable existence, during which Greyhounds spend 23 in every 24 hours confined and this is permissible under racing industry rules.”
Terminal canine blood donors

Greyhounds have an ideal blood type used by vets for canine patients who require blood transfusion. Most Greyhounds have a negative blood type, which makes them almost universal donors for other dogs and sometimes cats.

Unfortunately, this results in healthy Greyhounds – no longer wanted by the dog racing industry – being bled to death then euthanised, with their blood supplied to other animals that need treatment. This process is called terminal donation.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) states that: “Blood collection must not be regarded as a justification for the euthanasia of Greyhounds.” 

Instead, RSPCA Australia supports the collection of blood from donor dogs done under supervision to ensure the welfare of these animals, but this does not mean that they should euthanized.

A thesis done at Murdoch University, Western Australia 2018, about blood banking with Greyhounds reported that dogs that did not do well as racers were used - “With approval from our institutional Animal Ethics Committee, many trainers would donate their unwanted Greyhounds to the veterinary school for research and teaching purposes, with the end goal of humane euthanasia…”

“These donated Greyhounds are solely the dogs that were unable to be rehomed due to behavioural concerns, which are typically a demonstration of aggressive behaviour toward people or other animals. We are uncertain if donation of ex-racing greyhounds to veterinary hospitals for euthanasia is still relatively common elsewhere in Australia; however, we believe it likely continues to be a source of blood for some veterinary hospitals in Australia”.

While this practice does occur around Australia, it’s important to remember that community-run greyhound rescue groups do not euthanize unless a dog is terminal and suffering

Instead, these groups take the time to re-train and rehabilitate greyhounds that have not been properly socialised by their racing owners and often arrive in poor condition.

It’s quite likely that many of these so-called unrehomable Greyhounds could have been saved by these groups if they had sufficient funding. Unfortunately, despite the millions in betting revenue received by state governments in Australia from dog racing, little of that money is funnelled back into greyhound re-homing.

How do animal blood banks work in Australia?

Most people, including dog owners, would probably not give much thought to canine blood banks. Unlike the regular reminders humans get to donate blood, there is little publicity or awareness around this practice. There are more than 13 canine blood types and donor dogs with their human minders can donate canine blood via community-based programs, just as humans do.

Secondly, there are closed colonies (that keep dogs and cats on the premises of the hospital or blood bank). A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in 2006 concluded that non-profit, volunteer, community donor programs can provide a safe and reliable blood supply without undue cost burden on the veterinary medical community.

The study also said: “The primary justifications provided for captive donor programs do not appear to be valid, and the implementation and maintenance of such programs should be strongly discouraged in almost all instances.”

Meanwhile, located in South East Queensland, Plasvaac is the only company authorised by the Federal Government to produce animal plasma domestically. Despite this, the company does not release any data on the number of Greyhounds held there as donors or euthanized each year.

Founded in 1996, this Australian pharmaceutical company states they “manufacture and distribute high-quality hyper-immunized blood plasma products that are used to supplement the immune response system of animals." Anubis Retirement is a non-profit charity organisation providing care and rehoming services for donor Greyhounds and is associated with Plasvaac.

“CPG asked Plasvaac to provide details about its euthanasia and re-homing rates, but it failed to respond – so much for transparency,” said Ms. Pollard.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) policy on the provision of blood supplies for use in dogs and cats says animals should not be kept solely as blood donors because this may compromise their socialisation and care.

Instead, the AVA supports the establishment of registered blood banks that collect from vet practices which ensure the welfare of the animals involved and to service veterinary requirements for animal blood products.

Woodie the Greyhound (UK) has given blood 22 times to help up to 88 other dogs

Greyhound rehoming protocols

Ms Pollard said protected pathways for adoption and rehoming are needed to combat greyhounds being held and ending their lives in blood banks or in labs.

“Firstly, Racing Queensland urgently needs to have a greyhound rehoming policy that requires racing owners to rehome their dogs. Without one, healthy greyhounds are put down whenever a racing owner decides he or she wants to get rid of a slower or older dog,” she said.

“All jurisdictions in Australia must adopt the same approach recently announced by the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission in NSW,” said Ms Pollard.

Happily, from 1st May 2023, the Commission has decided that Greyhounds can no longer be retired or surrendered to a NSW or interstate facility that conducts animal research, animal plasma or blood collection.


Ms Pollard said it remains to be seen how GWIC will enforce this policy.

“To do it properly would mean liaising with every facility in NSW that formerly accepted Greyhounds for experiments and blood banking to check if ex-racers had been donated since May 1. Whether these facilities will provide this information remains to be seen,” she said.

“If NSW greyhounds are relocated interstate – which happens a lot – then donated to these facilities, it’s unlikely GWIC will have any power to redress the situation. For example, Plasvaac is just across NSW’s northern border and within easy reach.”

CPG is calling on all state governments to stop allowing Greyhounds to be sent to these facilities.

“The RSPCA is absolutely right in having a policy against greyhound racing because of the many welfare failings of this industry,” said Ms Pollard.

“Dumping Greyhounds at labs and blood banks is yet another example of why the dog racing industry must be phased out. It’s little wonder that the Australian public doesn’t support this so-called sport.”

Ms Pollard said the independent survey report current views on Greyhound racing (jointly commissioned by GREY2K USA Worldwide and CPG) shows:

1. the majority of Australians want Greyhound racing to end (57%),

2. a large majority of Australians (69%) are against governments subsidising the dog racing industry with taxpayers’ money (see diagram here),

3. the majority of Australians (58%) would be less likely to vote for a political candidate who supports taxpayer subsidies for the dog racing industry,

4. the majority of Australians (62%) believe dog racing is not important to the Australian economy.

“People who’d like to speak out on behalf of Greyhound welfare should know that they are not alone. In fact, they are now the majority in Australia,” said Ms Pollard.

The good news is that you can help dogs at blood banks.

1. Please share the information above with any vets you know and ask them to investigate where the blood products they order come from.

2. Please ask your veterinarian to obtain canine blood from companion dogs who are taken to mobile blood drives and/or vet clinics to donate blood, not from greyhounds used as terminal blood donors.

3. To share your opinion with the Queensland government about allowing its ex-racing greyhounds to be dumped at labs, please send an email today—click here to demand an end to this cruelty.

written by 
Angela Trejos, CPG volunteer, June 2023 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

About Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds

CPG is a dedicated group of people across Australia who work together to inform the public about the cruelties of Greyhound racing. 
Learn more by following their channels on: FacebookWebsiteInstagrammedia coverage.

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