California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Monday that makes major changes in the way life-saving animal blood is collected in the state. The law aims to eventually free “blood slave” donor dogs from captivity.

California is the only state in the United States that keeps blood donor animals in captivity in closed colonies. The dogs are bled every couple of weeks to save the lives of other animals while ensuring an income for their keepers. Those who support the model argue that it ensures a reliable blood supply and keeps it free from disease.

For those who oppose the model, it is inhumane, cruel, and barbaric. Most of the donor dogs are Greyhounds who already face a lot of abuse in the racing industry, critics argue. Most of the critics want a human-style blood donation type of system.

 Newsom signed the bipartisan California Pet Blood Bank Modernization Act, which was backed by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom, and Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk.

“I am elated that we are finally on the verge of replacing a long-standing inhumane practice and with a model program that will ensure the proper treatment of animal blood donors in California,” Bloom said was quoted as saying by local Californian media.

“This is a long overdue and needed reform for commercial animal blood banks. I am glad to see this change, that will save pets’ lives, finally become law,” Wilk said.

The new system will come into effect on New Year’s Day. Veterinarians can apply to start community blood banks on January 1. The Department of Food and Agriculture of California will be giving out licenses and collecting data on how much blood is produced by the blood banks.

Healthy neighbourhood dogs and cats will step in to be blood donors, then go home with a packet of treats.