When pets are in trouble, they turn to blood donations from the Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center.
Acting as a commercial blood bank, the college-based service saves thousands of pets nationwide by collecting blood from animals, in particular greyhounds.
Greyhounds have similar blood to O Negative in humans, the universal donor, which makes retired racing dogs a perfect match, said Ohio State’s Dr. Guillermo Couto, a leader in veterinary oncology, hematology and transfusion medicine.
The need for blood donations for animals is great.
“We have 75 million dogs in the US, a lot of which will need urgent or intensive veterinary care,” Couto said.
With about 1,500 pints of blood going out every year to save cats and dogs, the donations save the lives of countless pets nationwide.
“It's always very rewarding to get a thank you card from someone in California saying -- the blood you sent me saved my dog's life or my cat’s life,” Couto said.
However, the pets that receive the donations aren’t the only ones offered a second chance at life.
Some participants in the blood donor program are retired racing dogs, such as Cooja, who recently donated blood at Ohio State.
For racing dogs, retirement often means euthanasia, a fate that Couto is trying to change.
“We have a program with a lot the adoption groups where we actually have these dogs (greyhounds) adopted,” Couto said. “We blood-type them, we make sure they are free of infections, diseases, everything else checks out OK. And then we enroll them in the blood donor program.”
Greyhounds also have large veins, which makes them good blood donors. However, only dogs over 50 pounds are eligible, as well as cats.
In return for their services, donor pets receive free annual health checkups, standard vaccines, flea and tick control products and food.
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