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Getting every last drop from greyhounds

As if racing their hearts out weren’t enough, some greyhounds are retired to dog blood banks where they live caged all day long, except for outings to get their blood drawn.

PETA last month exposed one such kennel, The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, which houses about 150 retired greyhounds — solely for the purpose of extracting and selling their blood and blood products.

The products, PETA reported, are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., which did about $3 billion worth of business in 2016.

After the the PETA expose and a story in The Washington Post, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced it would take steps to correct the horrible conditions they described.

bloodbankBut PETA says no steps have been taken, even after they had Paul McCartney send a plea to the company.

Patterson Veterinary Supply initially announced it would terminate business with the The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.

It also promised to support “efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.” Bu PETA says it has seen no evidence of any such efforts.

The whistle-blower was Bill Larsen, 60, a former employee of the blood bank who went back to work there and was horrified by how conditions had deteriorated.

Larsen, who took the incriminating photos, said he unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”

The photos show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads.

The blood bank was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin, the Post reported.

Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Shane Altizer, whose family owns the farm in Cherokee.

“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller tod the Post. After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”

Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.

Blood banks help save thousands of animals a year, but they are also profit-driven and unregulated.

With more medical procedures being used by vets, transfusions are more often required, and animal blood banks struggle to meet the demand. Only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.

bloodbank2Greyhounds are considered especially desirable as donors because they typically have a universal blood type and have big neck veins that make drawing blood easy.

Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” with conditions there. After viewing the PETA photos and video though, she said, “It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring … I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”

Former Beatle McCartney, who wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf, wants to see all the dogs removed from the facility.

“I have had dogs since I was a boy and loved them all dearly, including Martha who was my companion for about 15 years and about whom I wrote the song ‘Martha, My Dear,'” McCartney wrote. “I join my friends at PETA in asking you to pay these greyhounds back, and to let them retire from the dirt-floored, barren conditions in which they are kept isolated and alone.”

(Photos and video from PETA)


Comment from LucyP
Time October 11, 2017 at 9:23 am

This is absolutely abysmal. No living being deserves to be locked up, denied companionship and care, and bled over and over again. I hope Paul’s plea wakes up this cruel company and these dogs get the real retirement they need and deserve.

Comment from Amy Donovan
Time October 11, 2017 at 10:43 am

The treatment of these dogs is abhorrent. They have given their lives to race for the pleasure of selfish humans, now they must give their blood? They deserve to be adopted into loving homes.

Comment from Carolina Cruz
Time October 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

This needs to stop now!!! These greyhounds deserve a good home!!! They need to be adopted , no more getting anymore blood from them!!!

Comment from Capet
Time October 11, 2017 at 3:16 pm

It s horrible !!!

Comment from Stacy
Time October 11, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Thrilled to see Paul McCartney using his fame to advocate for animals. These sweet greyhounds have suffered terribly on the tracks and now at this seedy blood bank. Patterson Veterinary Supply should step up and do the right thing for the dogs.

Comment from Sarah
Time October 11, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Major thanks to Sir Paul for being a rockstar for animals! Patterson needs to get those dogs out of that horrendous place pronto!

Comment from Gabby
Time October 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm

There’s NO excuse for what these animals are being put through. SO happy to see Paul McCartney speaking up for them!

Comment from Joyce meguire
Time October 11, 2017 at 9:10 pm

This is so horrible and such cruelty to such wonderful loving dogs!!! All dogs deserve a loving home not this horror!!

Comment from yvonne perry
Time October 11, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Absolutely disgraceful !! anyone can see those dogs are unhappy and suffering shame on the people who allow this to happen!!!

Comment from Ivanna
Time October 12, 2017 at 2:30 am

This is horrifying
These poor dogs have suffered enough
Please get them out of there
My heart aches for them
I will pray that,this will stop now

Comment from Kathy Calvetti
Time October 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

Haven’t they suffered enough. I just wish I could bring them all to my house.

Comment from Jeff White
Time October 12, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Don’t believe for one minute that the racing industry didn’t know what was going to happen to those dogs when they were sent to the “blood farm”. They are just happy to be able to get rid of their dogs as soon as they show signs of slowing down, to make room in their kennels for younger, faster dogs who will make them more money.

Comment from Mary F.
Time October 13, 2017 at 8:33 am

Hope to see a follow up to this story. One with a good ending.

Comment from JC
Time October 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm

The dogs are still there. Local law enforcement is covering for the owner.
The sheriff’s dept. statement is a lie. There is nothing in the local papers about this, but a small blip giving the sheriff’s false statement.This place has been using these dogs for a long time. The ones that come in, never get out. They are not adopted out. They stay there until they die. Terrible people. All about the $$$$$$

Comment from Diane
Time October 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

So, what can any of us do? Is there anything? Thank you for bringing this to our attention; I surely would not have heard about it otherwise. (lI ive in Germany) So very sad!

Comment from Kerstin Molt
Time October 15, 2017 at 12:51 pm

This is horrific &must be stopped immediately.

Comment from John Woestendiek
Time October 15, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Good question, I’ll see what I can find out and write an update
john / ohmidog!

Comment from Barbara A Hershey
Time October 16, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Owner is denying everything of course. The dogs in the worst health have disappeared and been replaced with younger dogs. Anyone who knows about Greyhounds knows that they can not live outdoors due to fine coat and no body fat. This just breaks my heart.

Comment from Bill Larsen
Time October 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm

I worked at the PBB from Dec. 2016 to July 2017. ALL the the photos shown by PETA were taken during this period. I addressed many of the horrible conditions that these dogs lived in. During that period 2 dogs died because of lack of water. A control pole was used to drag the dogs from their, “dog house?” a used chemical container, they were spayed 5 times in 2 weeks with with a petroleum distillate based termite spray… several dogs had large water blisters and their hair fell out. The folks doing the spraying laughed at the dogs blinking eyes as as the sprayed it into their face. This is only half the story. All of these dogs have been covered in ticks. In 6 mo. I have removed between 800-1,000 ticks from individual dogs from a group of about 30 dogs. The owners were made aware of this and did nothing. There is not one single dog that didn’t have at least 20 ticks on it. Tick born disease is very common in the area, with Ehlichia being the most common, Lymes being the 2nd most common. The blood is never tested for either of these before it is shipped out. The PBB website says that they use volunteer donors…not true. Their website also says that the blood is tested for disease before it is shipped out…again, not true. The sooner these dogs get out of this place, the better. It has been a tough fight,and it will continue.

Comment from John Woestendiek
Time October 17, 2017 at 7:35 am

Editor’s note: Bill is the man who blew the whistle on this place. Thanks for getting in touch Bill, and for your efforts.
Also, there’s at least one online petition going around to remove the dogs and shut down PBB. You can find one of them here.

Comment from Bill Larsen
Time October 17, 2017 at 8:01 am

I was just given word that the PBB has switched out unhealthy dogs for young healthy dogs. But the fight will continue. Thank you John Woestendiek for doing what you do.

Comment from Bill Larsen
Time October 17, 2017 at 8:05 am

I would love to be in touch with Jennifer Carballo

Comment from Tiffany
Time October 18, 2017 at 9:17 pm

All of this is nothing but lies. Bill Larson only did this because he wanted people to feel sorry for him and give him money. He raised money and said he donated it to the dogs. This is a total lie. He kept all the money for himself. Do some investigating for yourselves. No one from this organization has been to this facility to see if any of this is true. No one has confirmed these allegations. Why don’t you ask PETA if they have checked this out. Their answer will be no. They just believe a person who drinks every second of the day and smokes dope. Why don’t y’all ask Bill Larson how much PETA is paying him. I’m sure you will be surprised. People need to get a life. There are hungry children, children being abused and children being sold into the sex slave industry and y’all are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to put good people who are doing a good thing out of business. Get your priorities straight.