They say dogs are a man’s best friend – but they can be pretty kind to each other as well.
For 12 compassionate canines helped save the lives of other dogs when the country’s only blood bank for pets made its first visit to West Norfolk.
Pet Blood Bank UK welcomed the dogs and their owners at a blood donor session held at the Retired Greyhound Trust animal shelter in Marshland St James last week.
The charity, which supplies blood to vet surgeries for use in emergency operations, held the event as part of a national drive to help boost depleted stocks of dog blood.
Barbara Townsend, who runs the shelter, said the event was such a success that they will be holding another in the New Year.
She said: “It went really, really well. We had a lot of people ringing up about it beforehand and come along with their dogs on the day.
“There was a lot of interest in it. It was surprising how many people out there don’t know that dogs can give blood, but it’s exactly the same as when humans may need blood during an operation.”
Barbara, whose seven own pet dogs are all blood donors, said she found out about it when one of the shelter’s rescue dogs collapsed after being spayed.
“You never know when your dog might need a blood donation,” she said.
During the donation event, all the dogs were given a thorough health check by the blood bank vets, and all the successful donors received a special ‘lifesaver’ bandana, a tasty treat and a new toy.
Barbara said dogs without a microchip were also microchipped for free.
She said: “When you take a dog to the vets they check their heart and eyes, but during the donor session they also had their kidneys and liver checked to make owners aware of any problems which may arise in future. It’s like a whole MOT for your dog.”
The next session will be held at the shelter in January, although anyone interested in getting their dog to donate sooner can contact the Pet Blood Bank to find out where and when the next local collection will take place.
For dogs to donate, they must be between one and eight years old, weigh more than 25kg, have a good temperament, have never travelled abroad, be fully vaccinated and not be on any medication.
The process involves a health check and a small patch of hair being clipped back to allow cleansing solution and a needle to be placed into the jugular vein.
Although most dogs are type DEA 4-positive, a complex scale exists and transfusions between dogs with certain blood types are banned.
Each unit of blood donated can help save four sick or injured animals, meaning a total of 48 dogs benefitted from the session last week.
For more information contact Barbara on 01945 430311 or the Pet Blood Bank on 01509 232222.