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Experts slam BSPCA for using Mumbai strays as blood donors for pet dogs

Say practice is unethical and needs to be stopped immediately as it violates animal rights

mumbai Updated: Dec 06, 2017 23:28 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
HIndustan Times
A pet dog awaits blood transfusion at the BSPCA hospital, Parel. (HT photo )

Stray dogs brought in for adoption at the oldest and largest veterinary facility in Mumbai are allegedly being used as blood donors for ailing pet dogs needing treatment or surgery. Terming the practice as illegal and unethical, veterinarians, animal welfare officers and legal experts said such transfusions violate animal rights and pose a health risk.

Officials from Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA), Parel, said more than 100 stray dogs have donated blood in the past the four years and it was used during surgeries or for pet dogs suffering from blood-related disorders.

“Our facility provides shelter to pet dogs abandoned by their families and stray dogs for treatment and care after accident or disease. Once these dogs are healthy and until they get adopted, we use their blood to treat other pet dogs,” said Col [Retd] Dr JC Khanna, in-charge chief executive officer, BSPCA.

Khanna said a basic cross-matching blood test is done before the transfusion to ensure the donor and recipient are compatible. “These donor dogs are healthy and between the ages two and seven.The facility has about 35 dogs for adoption, who can become blood donors if needed,” he said.

Veterinary doctors, however, said a complete blood count and tick fever test is mandatory before transfusion, and the dog has to be young and should weigh at least 30kgs before giving 300ml of blood.

“Due to unavailability of health history and blood tests, stray dogs may carry a range of infections that can be transmitted to recipient dogs if the transfusion is based only on cross-matching,” said Dr Deepa Katyal.

An activist and senior member of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) said the practice of drawing blood from stray dogs needs permissions from AWBI [statutory advisory body on animal welfare laws] and Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals [statutory body under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960]. Neither of the criteria, as confirmed by BSPCA officials, is fulfilled.

“The practise is unethical and must be stopped immediately,” said Dr Chinni Krishna, former vice-president, AWBI. “Till the dog gets adopted, no organisation or individual has the right to collect blood because strays are not protected by legal provisions. The BSPCA can take up the issue of blood transfusion with the Chennai Veterinary Medical College, which has created a blood bank and a registry of healthy pet dogs who can donate blood during emergencies,” said Krishna.

Akin to Chennai model, Katyal said a registry of dogs treated in the apst 20 years, which double as a blood donor database during emergencies, must be maintained.

“Safe medical practices disallow using a blood donor dog diagnosed with diseases that affect the blood quality in six months,” said Katyal. “With strays, these diseases are silent and surface only after transfusion. Such transfusions can prove fatal for stray dogs and pose a tangible risk of infection to the recipient dog.”

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 23:28 IST