Staff and students help meet high demand
On the evening of July 23, Shannon Horricks noticed an abnormal spot of blood on her dog Bella’s back. It was strange, but she didn’t think it was a big cause for concern. The following day, the eight-year-old boxer-lab mix started bleeding from her nose.
Horricks rushed Bella to the vet, where they discovered that the dog’s blood platelets were dangerously low, making it hard for blood to clot. A few days later, her platelet count dropped even further. Once a healthy pet, Bella was anemic and at risk of internal bleeding.
The clinic performed a blood transfusion that saved her life.
“I had no idea that dogs could donate blood, or that dogs could be in need of transfusions,” says Horricks. “It’s just so important to have this available.”
Blood transfusions play a critical role in saving dogs’ lives by helping to treat anemia, certain infections, injuries from car accidents and more. But the high demand for canine blood in veterinary clinics and animal hospitals across the country makes it difficult for the Canadian Animal Blood Bank to keep up. To help, a crowdfunding campaign launched on Sept. 27 at NAIT, site of one of the largest satellite collection sites in Western Canada.
Dogs saving dogs
The NAIT Canine Animal Blood Bank is among three collection sites in Edmonton that support the Canadian Animal Blood Bank, based in Winnipeg. Having the site on campus allows students to learn to collect blood from dogs while contributing to the national supply.
Staff and students from the Animal Health Technology and Veterinary Medical Assistant programs put in the extra hours needed and are able to collect 25 bags a month, which helps 50 to 75 dogs.
Over the 16 years it has operated, the blood bank has helped thousands of dogs. However, demands for canine blood continues to grow.
The Canadian Animal Blood Bank distributes 100 units to veterinary clinics across Canada every week. Currently, NAIT is able to provide only 6% of that. To step up efforts, senior veterinary medical officer Elaine Degrandepre and a group of volunteers are helping lead the crowdfunding campaign to expand the staffing required to handle more blood donor appointments.
“Every donation helps us continue saving more [dogs’] lives,” says Degrandepre.
Already, the campaign is proving to be a success. Within days of launching, it surpassed its $2,000 goal. Donations can be made until Oct. 30.
For dogs like Bella, every dollar counts. Today, she’s still slightly anemic, but recovering well.
"I’m just so grateful for the dogs that donate."
“For her to wake up every day, be herself and in good spirits, I’m just so grateful for the dogs that donate,” says Horricks.
Remembering just how close she came to losing Bella, she was eager volunteer for the campaign by spreading the word and encouraging donations.
“It costs a lot of money to run the clinics,” she says, “so it’s important to do what we can to help other dogs.”
How to make a blood donation
To donate blood, dogs must weigh 50 pounds (23 kilograms) or more, and be between one and eight years old. They must also be healthy, even-tempered and have up-to-date vaccinations. Sedation is not required during the donation, which takes less than five minutes. Once accepted into the program, dogs can donate every three months.
NAIT hosts 11 clinics throughout the year with the next scheduled on Oct. 28, 2019. Book an appointment online.