Until recently, veterinarians in Utah had to order canine blood products from out of state, costing time that desperate dogs could not afford to spare. But now thanks to Canine Blood Heroes, Salt Lake City has its own dog blood bank.
The blood bank was founded by veterinarian Adam Petersen after hosting a dog blood clinic at SLC’s Advanced Veterinary Care. Dog owners brought in their pups to potential donors for the local blood supply.
“We’re just really excited to have this program in Salt Lake — to have dogs saving other dogs’ lives, and that we’ll be able to provide the best medicine possible because the blood will be right here in Salt Lake,” said Advanced Veterinary Care’s hospital administrator, Anne Cordts.
Dogs have blood types like humans, and breeds like pit bulls, boxers, Doberman pinschers and Greyhounds are commonly the universal donors. To give blood, the donors must be one to seven years old, weigh at least 50 pounds and be free from disease. Petersen says if 16 to 20 of the 34 dogs tested are cleared to be donors, the blood bank will be off to an excellent start. As interest grows, more blood transfusions will be possible.
“The biggest problem we have in this country when it comes to blood transfusions is access,” Petersen said. “If you can give access to the veterinarians who don’t have it, you will find more blood will be used, more lives will be saved, and more animals will be treated for life-threatening conditions.”
Emergency and critical care doctor at AVC was relieved to find out about the new blood bank, as low supplies and late shipments have been stressful.
“I can’t tell you how many times we are desperate in the middle of the night without blood, and it’s very helpful just to know they’re going to be here,” Simmons said. “A lot of our cases come in with dire and sudden need for transfusions. … So, the ability to have that immediately available is going to benefit everyone.”
The benefits do not just go to the dogs – vets won’t have to pay for out-of-state shipping costs, and dog owners will receive a $50 vet bill credit each time their dog successfully donates. But most owners are less concerned with the impact on their wallets, and more so about the ability to help save other dogs’ lives.
“It’s those owners that are very bonded to their animals, they take the life of these guys very seriously. They seem to be the ones most drawn to the program,” Petersen said.
Pet owners interested in participating in the program may call Canine Blood Heroes at 208-346-2542, or email [email protected].