Dog days for canine donors

August 31, 2013 at 5:49 am

As our regular donors know, blood centers always worry about having enough blood donors in the summer. At Stanford Blood Center, summer means calling our donors more frequently due to the increase in accidents, an uptick in scheduled surgeries, and the scarcity of donors with so many people going on vacation.

A recent story on NPR by Christopher Connelly revealed that canine blood banks experience late summer shortages, too. Veterinary blood banks grapple with an increased need for donors in the summer because more dogs suffer from accidents, snakebites, heatstroke, and parvovirus during these months.

Connelly interviewed veterinarian Jean Dodds, who runs Hemopet: a canine blood bank, greyhound rescue and adoption center, and diagnostic laboratory in Garden Grove, California. (Greyhounds are like human O-negative donors: a high percentage of these dogs sport the universal blood type for canines.)

According to Connelly, “In a lot of ways, a blood bank for dogs is like a blood bank for people: Donors are screened for blood-borne diseases, the blood has to be typed, and there never seems to be enough.”

Dodds told Connelly that in mid-August, canine blood banks were still recovering from the Fourth of July holiday – much like Stanford Blood Center.

Hemopet is one of just a handful of commercial blood banks for dogs and cats in the United States. Here in California, a bit closer to Stanford , there is also Animal Blood Resources International (ABRI) in Dixon. ABRI notes on its website that it has been in business for 25 years, making it the first commercial blood bank for cats and dogs.

ABRI keeps some in-house donors, but most of its volunteers are privately owned. They may miss out on the POG and Pacific Cookie Company cookies that our blood donors adore, but canine donors are amply rewarded with lots of affection and treats like peanut butter and high-quality dog food. Not surprisingly, the calm and sweet-tempered dogs that make excellent blood donors make incredible pets, too. Like Hemopet, ABRI also works closely with rescue organizations to help its donors find forever homes. You can meet Hemopet’s greyhounds up for adoption here, or search for retired feline or canine donors on ABRI’s adoption page.