“Buster” (named changed to protect his privacy) walks into the office and jumps up on the table ready to have his blood drawn. He’ll donate about 450 milliliters today and walk out with a treat and a $50 certificate for veterinary care. “Buster” is a universal dog blood type donor and is eligible to donate every four to eight weeks to help save the lives of other dogs.
Canine Blood Heroes, located at Advanced Veterinary Care, 1021 E 3300 S, draws blood and provides it to local veterinary clinics and hospitals as well as out-of-state facilities. About 95 percent of the blood is used in Utah, where there is a high demand.
When he saw how badly the blood was needed, Dr. Adam Petersen started Canine Blood Heroes in Idaho. He opened a second Idaho location before opening the Salt Lake location.
The blood is used primarily for traumatic injuries, surgical uses and for some disease processes.
Kristalynn Hall, Location Manager and phlebotomist for Canine Blood Heroes, told of one dog with IMHA, Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, who came into the office in need of a transfusion. She says, “The dog came in limp, barely moving and when the transfusion was done he was perky and able to walk out on his own with his owners.” Kristalynn is able to see both sides of the process, drawing blood as a phlebotomist and seeing the donations help dogs at her job at Advanced Veterinary as an ICU and emergency dog technician.
Like humans, dogs have blood types, but not the A, B and O variety. Blood is tested for how reactive it is based on the presence of 12 reactive antigens. If a dog is missing reactive antigens at 1.1, 4 and 7, they are considered a universal donor. If there is time, the dog receiving blood can be cross matched for a more exact fit, but in emergencies the universal donor blood can be used effectively.
Any dog breed can be a possible universal donor, but Labradors and Golden Retrievers are less likely to qualify. The clinic has a pair of Greyhounds that come in on a regular basis, about every four weeks, to donate, and another pair of Dobermans that donate every eight weeks.
Kristalyn says, “Donating is not hard on dogs. They only donate about 450 ml.and don’t seem to notice after two or three times. At first they can get a little woozy just like humans, but dogs are rock stars and handle it great.”
Story by Connie Lewis