Good Boy: Canine Blood Donors Are Saving Dogs’ Lives

Clear the Shelters

Dogs are some of the most social, pack-minded animals on the planet, with a seemingly endless desire to be good boys and girls (Really, do we deserve them?).

Perhaps that’s why Jax was all smiles, even after getting stuck with a needle at a vet’s office in Bristow, Virginia. The pit bull-bull dog mix wasn’t there to get a checkup, though: He was donating blood.

It’s an often-unconsidered fact that in case of illness or injury, blood transfusions can save the lives of not just humans, but those of our furry companions too.

That’s what happened after Indy, a Lab who’s now 5 years old, ate gum containing xylitol — which is fine for humans, but very poisonous to dogs.

Indy’s owners rushed her to the vet, where she had a seizure because of low blood sugar. The pup was transferred to Virginia Vet Centers in Fredericksburg, and over the next seven days, received intensive treatment including IV fluids and antibiotics.

Indy went into liver failure and was given six double units of canine plasma to keep her from bleeding to death, her owners said.

It took seven days before Indy was recovered enough to head home. Now, her blood is back to normal and she’s happy at home.

“Without the plasma donated from other dogs, Indy surely would not have survived this ordeal,” her owners told News4 in an email.

Not every dog gets so lucky. Casey Mills, an account manager at the North American Veterinary Blood Bank, shared the story of another dog who came in to the emergency room needing multiple blood transfusions.

There was no blood available, and the dog died.

“There is a critical shortage of animal blood affecting the D.C. area right now,” Mills said.

The North American Veterinary Blood Bank (NAVBB) is battling that shortage. It currently accepts donations at a vet’s center in Bristow, Virginia, and is looking to expand to D.C. and Maryland. That would allow more people to donate conveniently.

A wide donor pool is needed: Animals have blood types just like humans. Cats have three different feline-specific blood types, and canines have a whopping 12. 

Blood types aren’t breed specific, but greyhounds are known for being universal donors, Mills said. Most dogs aged 1-7 that are in good health, have a good temperament and weigh more than 50 pounds can donate. (Cats must weigh 9.5 pounds. Here’s more information on requirements).

“Many people do not realize the significant impact their dog could make,” Mills said.

The dogs that donate under NAVBB’s community donor model live at home with their families and come into the Bristow office to donate once a month.

Of course, dogs and their owners get perks for their efforts.

“They’re always so excited when they come in the door to see us because they know we’re going to give them tons of peanut butter or Milk-Bones … whatever their little heart desires,” Mills said.

The owner of one donor dog, Freddie, told News4, “Honestly, he does it for the peanut butter!”

Smiley Jax, who was rescued from a junkyard, hardly even notices the procedure, his owner Kristina says.

Pet owners get discounts on checkups and disease screenings — plus the satisfaction of knowing they could be saving the life of someone’s best friend.

Claire Savage reported on this story

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Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 17, 2019, to help find loving homes for animals in need.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015.

Now is the time for shelters to register by completing the online application located here. Organizations interested in participating in Clear the Shelters must complete the Commitment Registration form to ensure proper verification of all interested participants.

When registering, please make sure you select the TAMPA-ST.PETERSBURG-SARASOTA, FL region. This will put your shelter on our CLEAR THE SHELTERS online map, driving families to your shelter. 

Here are the local shelters that are offering no-cost or reduced-fee adoptions for this event:

  1. Citrus County Animal Services - 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  2. Humane Society of Polk County - 3195 Dundee Road Winter, Haven
  3. Barking Out Loud Rescue, Inc - 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  4. Paw Warriors, Inc. - 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  5. SPCA Florida - 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  6. Friends of Strays Animal Shelter - 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  7. Pinellas County Animal Services - 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  8. SPCA of Hernando County - 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  9. Humane Society of Tampa Bay - 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  10. SPCA Tampa Bay - 9099 130th Ave North, Largo
  11. Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services - 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  12. St. Francis Animal Rescue - 1925 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
  13. FLUFF Animal Rescue - 11220 Park Blvd N, Seminole
  14. Manatee County Animal Services: Palmetto Shelter - 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  15. Manatee County Cat Town - 216 6th Ave E, Bradenton
  16. Pasco County Animal Services - 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  17. St. Francis Society, Inc. - Pet Smart - 12835 Citrus Plaza Dr, Tampa
  18. The Humane Society of the Nature Coast - 7200 Mobley Road, Brooksville
  19. Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center - 440 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa
  20. Humane Society of Manatee County - 2515 14th Street W, Bradenton
  21. Save Our Strays Inc. Safety Harbor, FL - 3223 San Jose Street, Clearwater
  22. Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Section - 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  23. Hernando County Animal Services - 19450 Oliver St., Brooksville
  24. Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, FL - 5718 21st Ave W, Bradenton
  25. Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  26. Rescue Cats of Florida, 211 West Alexander Street, Plant City
  27. Precious Paws Rescue, 5164 S. Florida Avenue (Route 41), Inverness
  28. Hands Helping Paws Rescue, 53 West Bay Boulevard South, Lake Wales
  29. Cat Kids Rescue, 10500 Ulmerton Road, Suite 308, Largo
  30. Suncoast Animal League, 1030 Pennsylvania Ave., Palm Harbor
  31. Cat Haven Rescue of Tampa-Pasco County, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Wesley Chapel
  32. Cat Haven Rescue of Pasco County, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  33. Suncoast Humane Society, 6781 San Casa Drive, Englewood
  34. Rebels Rescue, 11665 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
  35. Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka city
  36. Cat Crusaders, Inc, 6248 Commerce Palms Drive, Tampa
  37. SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  38. Rescue Cats of Florida, 3313 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico
  39. Countless Cats Rescue Inc., 3139 Duane Avenue, Oldsmar
  40. Cat Call Inc, Pet Smart 1051 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon
  41. Cat Call Inc, 11331 Causeway Blvd, Brandon

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