Cancer treatment, severe injuries, treatment for autoimmune disorders and viruses like Parvo — these are a handful of the reasons why NW pets might need to receive blood transfusions. Without them, many pets would not survive. And keeping a ready supply is a year-round challenge, but demand peaks in the summer months.
As with human blood supplies, patients in emergency situations rely on hospitals to have a ready supply of the right blood type, in the right amount, at the right location when it’s needed. Human blood is largely collected and distributed by the Red Cross and its countless volunteer donors around the world. But veterinary hospitals rely on supplies from the Portland’s DoveLewis Blood Bank.
That blood bank, in turn, relies on the dogs and their human companions to volunteer for donations. Right now, increased demand at the DoveLewis emergency hospital and at other area clinic has created a critical shortage for several blood types.
The DoveLewis blood bank is putting out a call for new canine blood donors. “We call our donors Superheroes because they are truly saving lives,.” says DoveLewis president and CEO Ron Morgan. “Just one donation can help treat up to four animals.”
DoveLewis — which throws a yearly celebration of its active and retired blood donors, says Calamity Jane’s recent donations helped save the lives of a 3-year-old Australian shepherd suffering from rat bait poisoning and a 5-year-old pit bull with an autoimmune disorder.
Blood donations need to come from medium-to-large dogs (Greyhounds are revered as excellent donors), but they don’t need to be a particular breed or type. Dogs simply need to be at least 55 pounds, between 1-6 years old, current on vaccines, generally healthy, and good-natured about the donation process.
DoveLewis says the donation process is quick, easy, and painless for both the canine donor and the human companion. The blood bank will ask volunteers to commit to being regular donors for two years, with at least two but no more than six donations each year. In return, donors receive annual blood tests, exams, health screenings, and discounts on some products.