Amazingly, Pet Blood Bank is the only animal-focused charitable blood bank in the nation. The organization currently donates dog and alpaca blood; a request for cat blood is being considered as well. In addition to offering vital blood transfusions, Pet Blood Bank also keeps supplies of other blood products. These include platelets, blood plasma, and a fresh platelet concentrate. T
hese medical supplies are necessary to address “a spectrum of chronic diseases and crises from anemia and hemophilia to rat bait poisoning,” according to The Guardian.
“Demand is high and continuing,” says Wendy Barnett, the former veterinary nurse who built Pet Blood Bank in 2007. Apparently, having a dog’s blood supply wasn’t always so simple. Only recently in 2005 did a law change allow pet blood to be collected, stored, and distributed.
Donating Essential Medical Supplies
Dogs have diverse blood kinds, much like people. Blood is divided into two groups depending on whether DEA1 antigen testing is positive or negative. About one in three dogs who test negative are universal donors. The blood Wendy mentions as being in demand is this.
The blood bank is therefore eager to collect from particular breeds that are more likely to be DEA1 negative. “German Shepherds, Dobermans, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Boxers” are among the breeds covered by this; yet, they will draw blood from any dog under certain restrictions. Dogs must weigh at least 25 kg, be housebroken, and be between the ages of one and eight.
Every week, Pet Blood Bank runs five donation spots across England and Scotland. During their appointments, dogs get a quick health check and then belly rubs while staff collect 450ml of blood. Afterward, dogs get a ‘biscuit of the week’ and choose between a squeaky or raggy toy to take home. According to Barnett, “It takes about 10 minutes and a lot of dogs just wag it out on the table.”
Pet Blood Bank’s work is directly saving pets’ lives across the UK. Milo, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, received an emergency transfusion while being admitted to the Small Animal Teaching hospital in Liverpool. His parent, Gwyneth Melling, said, “ If he hadn’t got that blood on the first day he wouldn’t have survived.”