A Best Friends Blood Drive for dogs and their owners will be held Sunday Feb. 3, 10-3. VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists, together with the American Red Cross, are working to raise awareness of the tremendous ongoing need for blood for both pets and people alike.
A safe, reliable blood source is vital in cases of injury, surgery, and life-threatening illnesses — for dogs and people alike. Portland’s canine population is growing rapidly, and shortages of canine blood products are now occurring more often than in human medicine. VCA NWVS Critical Care Blood Bank was established in 2006 to provide the highest quality veterinary blood products in order to meet the needs of the critically ill and injured local animals.
Last year, VCA NWVS donors, called “Lifesavers,” contributed over 400 units of blood; each unit potentially helping at least four animals.
The folks at VCA NWVS love and appreciate their Lifesavers, who come from Portland and surrounding regions. “It’s a privilege to work with the wonderful pet owners in this community,” said Dr. Heidi Houchen, Blood Bank Director. “And we hope to meet more through events like the Best Friends Blood Drive. We continually need Lifesaver donations in order to meet the increasing demand of critically ill and injured pets in our region.”
To be eligible to be a Lifesaver, your dog must weigh at least 55 lbs, be 2-6 years of age, and in good health and condition. Houchen says, “Most Lifesavers also have a friendly disposition . . ." adding with a smile, “it goes with the territory.”
If your dog might be a great Lifesaver, he or she can be blood typed at the blood drive; qualified donors are also screened for infectious diseases at no cost. Once approved, Lifesavers are asked to donate blood every 3-4 months. A typical donation involves treats, lying still on a soft blanket for 5-10 minutes, more treats, and lots of affection from blood bank staff.
While the benefits for dogs receiving the gift of life-saving blood products are readily apparent, there are also great benefits for Lifesaver donors: they receive full annual physical exams, blood work, and yearly heartworm/parasite preventative medication. Pet parents of Lifesavers often say the greatest benefit is the same as when donating human blood: knowing they’re helping save the lives of others!
VCA NWVS is excited to partner with the American Red Cross to educate Portland-area pet parents about the ongoing need for human and canine blood. As members of one of the country’s “Pet-friendliest” cities, Portlanders are passionate about helping their best friends survive times of crisis and go on to live healthy, thriving lives.
The Best Friends Blood Drive is happening at the VCA NWVS Hospital at 16756 SE 82nd Drive in Clackamas. The Red Cross will be on-site, and people planning to donate blood are encouraged to register online at www.redcrossblood.org (use sponsor code: VCAHospitals), or by contacting Heidi Houchen at 503-656-3999. For answers to FAQs about being a human blood donor, call the hotline at 866-236-3276.