Recently, while working on a magazine story about blood donations, I unexpectedly landed on a website for dog donors. To be precise, the website is for the human owners of dog donors, since it’s kind of difficult to type out Google searches with canine paws, especially when those pesky dew claws get in the way.
The Canadian Animal Blood Bank, based in Winnipeg but with additional collection locations in Edmonton and Toronto, holds regular blood donor clinics for dogs. We don’t believe the dogs mind these acts of altruism; in fact, some of the clinics’ regulars have donated 10 or 20 times already. (Since the promise of a few food crumbs will convince a canine to do just about anything, we’re guessing these patient pooches get some pretty tasty treats after their donation.)
To be eligible to donate, dogs must weigh more than 50 pounds, be between one and eight years of age, and be of even temperament (um… obviously). The blood that’s collected is shipped all over Canada as needed.
And is it needed, you may wonder? Turns out dog transfusions aren’t all that unusual, and in the case of an accident or illness, they can save a pet’s life… like Annie, an Irish wolfhound who almost bled to death trying to give birth to her seven puppies, or Misty, whose blood couldn’t clot properly after she swallowed rat poison.
My favourite story is about Copper, a cute golden retriever-bloodhound mix who unfortunately contracted parvovirus. This is a potentially dangerous disease and dogs are normally vaccinated against it, but Copper was still a puppy, and his immunizations were not yet complete. He almost died from complications. But thanks to a blood transfusion, he recovered fully.
Why do I love this story? Because as soon as Copper was full grown, he pranced straight to the nearest blood donor clinic to give back. Literally.
Nice to know his gift was not all in vein (please forgive me).