Making a Difference: Donor dogs and cats provide lifesaving blood for pets in need
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV/Gray News) - About once a month, Carlos the greyhound eagerly walks with Emma Doubleday to an examination room in the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Care Blood Bank, where he does something that could save another dog’s life: he donates blood.
Carlos, a retired racing track dog, is one of 29 canines and 14 cats that donate blood regularly at the UW Veterinary Care Blood Bank. The blood is used to treat sick or injured animals in need of transfusions.
Doubleday is a Care Blood Donor Coordinator with the university. She says Carlos, whose owner works at the clinic, has been part of the blood donor program for 2 to 3 years.
“Carlos is a great donor,” Doubleday told WMTV. “One, he loves people. He loves coming in. He knows there’s a treat involved, and his ‘Mom’ says he talks all the way in.”
Doubleday said what Carlos and the other donor animals provide is vital.
“There’s no replacement for blood, just like with humans,” Doubleday said. “In our I.C.U. right now there are probably three other animals that could be using transfusions this week. We’ve already done 5 transfusions already this week. It’s very vital.”
She said in 2021, the blood bank collected about 300 donations.
Carlos was patient and lying still on the exam table while Doubleday and an assistant collected blood from his jugular vein underneath a numbed and shaved area on his neck. They gave him constant praise, re-assurance, and a treat when he was finished.
The donations are lifesavers for dogs like Chauncey, who nearly bled to death last fall after apparently ingesting some poison. His owners Andy and Wendy Uhl are grateful to still have the now 15-month-old dog in their lives.
“He was very sick. It’s still shocking. We just don’t know how it happened,” Andy Uhl said.
Chauncey needed several transfusions because he was bleeding internally. Veterinarians at UW Veterinary Care were able to save Chauncey with the blood from donor dogs like Carlos.
“It means he’s alive,” Andy Uhl said. “He would have died.”
For Doubleday, it makes it all worthwhile to see donations from dogs like Carlos save the lives of dogs like Chauncey.
“It’s also good to see it all the way through,” Doubleday said. “I know who it came from, I know who it went to, and I’ve said it before, but a little bit of my soul is in every single one of the donations and blood products. Knowing that that many lives were changed by something like this? It’s irreplaceable.”
Carlos might be retired from the racetrack, but Doubleday said he’s a champion blood donor.
Greyhounds are universal blood donors for nearly all other canines, but a dog certainly doesn’t have to be a greyhound to donate.
Here are the requirements, restrictions, and rewards for dog and cat donors. Donor animals receive free food, routine vaccinations, preventative exams, and dental care.
The clinic is also now expanding into rabbit blood donations.
For more information on how your pet can participate, call 608-263-7600 or email the UW Veterinary Care Blood Bank.
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