(Picture Credit: Lourdes Balduque / Getty Images)
In the United Kingdom, Pet Blood Bank UK is asking for donations to help save dogs’ lives.
Amazingly, Pet Blood Bank is the country’s only animal charity blood bank. Currently, the group provides dog and alpaca blood, with an application for cats under review. Pet Blood Bank not only provides critical blood transfusions but also stocks other blood products. Among these are blood plasma, platelets, and a brand-new platelet concentrate. According to The Guardian, these medical supplies are vital to treat “a range of chronic conditions and emergencies from anemia and hemophilia to rat bait poisoning.”
“Demand is high and continuing,” says Wendy Barnett, the former veterinary nurse who built Pet Blood Bank in 2007. Apparently, having a dog blood supply wasn’t always so simple. Only recently in 2005 did a law change allow pet blood to be collected, stored, and distributed.
Donating Essential Medical Supplies
Like humans, dogs have different blood types. Specifically, testing positive or negative to the DEA1 antigen splits blood into two groups. Dogs who test negative—about one in three—-are universal donors. This is the blood Wendy says is in demand.
As a result, the blood bank is keen to collect from specific breeds more likely to be DEA1 negative. This includes “German Shepherds, Dobermans, Flat-coated Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Boxers.” However, they will take blood from any dog, with conditions. Dogs must be healthy, at least 25kg, socialized, and between one to eight years old.
Every week, Pet Blood Bank runs five donation spots across England and Scotland. During their appointments, dogs get a quick health check and then belly rubs while staff collect 450ml of blood. Afterward, dogs get a ‘biscuit of the week’ and choose between a squeaky or raggy toy to take home. According to Barnett, “It takes about 10 minutes and a lot of dogs just wag it out on the table.”
Pet Blood Bank’s work is directly saving pets’ lives across the UK. Milo, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, received an emergency transfusion while being admitted to the Small Animal Teaching hospital in Liverpool. His parent, Gwyneth Melling, said, “ If he hadn’t got that blood on the first day he wouldn’t have survived.”