Jaxx is ready to save lives.
The energetic border collie leaps onto a metal exam table and waits quietly for a veterinary assistant to draw his blood.
The donation could help save three other dogs.
Like people, sick and injured dogs and cats sometimes require blood transfusions for survival. The Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley, which operates B.C.’s largest stand-alone animal blood bank in Langley, is seeking new donors.
“As an emergency hospital, we need to have blood products on hand,” clinic owner Rob Koreman explained. “We started out getting donations from the pets of staff, but the need keeps growing.”
Andrea Dyck, blood services coordinator for the Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley, and Jaxx, a five-year-old border collie-cross.
Many animal hospitals purchase blood from huge banks in California and Washington and then throw it away when it expires. The Langley clinic began its collection program in 1996 to meet the needs of local animals. It now supplies blood to dozens of other B.C. clinics, in addition to training vets and assistants on the best transfusion techniques.
About 120 dogs and cats participate in the program, donating blood every two to three months, said blood services coordinator Andrea Dyck.
Before an animal can become a donor, a series of tests is done to ensure its blood is safe and the donation won’t negatively impact its health. Like people, dogs and cats have different blood types, with some types more rare than others.
Donor animals must be able to lie quietly — something that is almost impossible for cats, which means most need to be sedated during the donation process. A catheter is then inserted into the animal’s jugular vein. The amount of blood taken depends on the size of the animal — from about 60 ml for a cat, to 450 ml for a Great Dane.
“From start to finish, the process takes about 20 minutes,” said Dyck.
Owners receive a gift card for their trouble — not to mention the free mini checkup that precedes the donation — as well as the knowledge that their pet helped to save the life of someone else’s animal.
Whole blood can be stored for 35 days. Some blood is separated into plasma and red blood cells, which have different shelf lives depending on whether they are fresh or frozen.
The blood products are mainly used to treat animals that have cancer, or have been struck by a car or ingested rat poison, said Dyck.
Jaxx was about one week old when his life was saved by staff at the Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley. The abandoned pup had been attacked by another animal and his leg had to be amputated.
Jennifer Vondrasek adopted him a few weeks later.
“He’s in it for the food,” she joked about his blood donation gig.
On Thursday, Jaxx was unable to donate because he gave blood a few weeks ago, but he was rewarded with a treat for sitting patiently on the exam table.
“To know that what he’s doing is saving other dogs is a wonderful feeling,” said Vondrasek.
The Animal Emergency Clinic will be signing up new donors at the Pet Lover Show at the Abbotsford Tradex Feb. 24-25. The show also features a SuperDog star search contest, lure course, sessions with an animal communicator, as well as exhibits on pet massage, reiki and animal fitness.
Dog and cat blood donors must be between the ages of one and six years, over 50 pounds, vaccinated, dewormed, treated for fleas and spayed or neutered. They cannot have had a blood transfusion in the past.
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com