Monday, June 2, 2008

Blood bank aids ailing dogs

Dog owners looking for a new way to bond with their animal and help others in the process have a new option in the UC Davis Veterinary Blood Bank.
Started in late February, the blood bank has been accepting appointments for doggy donors who weigh at least 55 pounds and are 1 to 8 years old
"I brought a previous dog in that was sick that received blood," said Ellen Wyoshimura, of Orangevale, who brought her German Shepherd named Breesis for a blood donation Friday. "So it made me want to give back. Plus I'm a human blood donor," she added.
On the first visit, dogs and their owners can expect a quick consultation where a technician will do a physical and take some blood samples, said Dorian Lara, Transfusion Medicine Coordinator at the blood bank. If everything checks out, the dog will need to come back for the actual blood draw. All visits to the blood bank for screening and blood donation are free.
"The first thing we do is run a blood type," said Lara. "We're looking for the equivalent of type "O" in humans, the "universal donor."
That particular blood type occurs in about 15 to 20 percent of all dogs according to Lara, so there is a need to screen a large number of dogs in order to build up a pool of viable donors to support the hospital.
According to Lara, the hospital would like to have a pool of about 300 donors.
"There's a lot of reasons, a lot of trauma," said Lara, referring to the need for donors. "So if a dog gets hit by a car, or injured in a
dog fight, they can lose a lot of blood that way," he added.
Previously, the program functioned on the donations from a group of about 20 to 30 resident dogs, according to Lara. But as the hospital has grown, that pool of dogs could no longer support the needs of the hospital. We need more dogs, but we can't keep more dogs here, Lara continued.
"I think more people need to come in and see if their dog has the right type of blood...To help the hospital out," added Wyoshimura.
She plans on coming back with Breesis once a month for the rest of the year to donate blood.
"It's been relatively easy for us," said Wyoshimura. "It didn't take a lot of time and the dog (Breesis) got a lot of treats."
This is a way we can involve the community so it's not just you bringing your dog in when it needs vaccines or during a sickness, Lara added.
"You can bring it, it donates blood and it goes home and everyone's happy," said Lara.
The UC Davis Veterinary Blood Bank is scheduling appointments for Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, and will offer a once-a-month Saturday appointment beginning at the end of June. For more information call (530) 752-1393 or e-mail email : caninebloodbank@gmail.com.

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