The Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG), a local ER on Leesburg Pike, recently opened a blood bank program in April to meet the urgent needs of neighboring veterinarians. Pet owners can bring their dogs to the vet hospital to donate blood to treat pooches who may suffer from certain injuries and illnesses.
Jessie Brown, a licensed veterinary technician at the Veterinary Emergency Group, said the emergency group came up with the idea behind the blood bank program after recognizing a “very limited” commercial vendor that sells blood products.
“We are growing every day and it’s needed for our company to end up helping out the other commercial vendors,” Brown said. “This is something that we can do locally and get local interest in to help.”
No funding went into the program, with Brown saying that the vet hospital is paying for all of the equipment and screening used. Although Brown said blood banking for animals has been around “for a long time,” the veterinary industry is growing due to people being more interested in owning pets. With a rise in pet ownership, more veterinary clinics are opening, causing a demand for services such as the blood bank program.
“For those of us that have the experience and the comfortability to start it within our own kind of practices,” Brown said, “then there are some of us that are trying to help meet that demand or that need that’s happening now.”
Differing from other animal blood bank programs, VEG’s program is volunteer only, with Brown saying pet owners and their furry friends can receive a free yearly screening, toys and a picture taken of the donors, labeling them as a “hero.”
“When the unit [of blood] is given to the patient’s owner, they can actually see who their hero is,” Brown said. “A lot of times, fellow animal lovers love knowing that they can help out somebody in their community.”
Similar to humans, Brown said dogs do have different blood types, which can be difficult for blood transfusions due to various blood types still being explored. Currently, VEG’s program only accepts canine blood donations, but feline’s may be considered later on.
Before a dog can become a donor, Brown said they must come in to have a screening and blood-type test done to ensure that the donor is healthy. Pet owners are then asked to commit to letting their dog donate blood six times a year (about once every other month). Brown also added that the donation process is “very safe” and owners will be given information to share with their family veterinarian.
Although Brown said VEG has seen some “wonderful donors” come in, the vet hospital is looking to accept more due to a need for more blood products. When asked what she hoped was to be accomplished by the program, Brown said the overall goal of the blood bank is to let local pet owners know that there is a place people can go to when seeking medical help for their animals.
“We call all of our donors ‘heroes’ because they are,” Brown said. “I just want owners to really understand that we really want this to be a positive experience for their pet and that their safety is top of mind.”
Visit www.VEG.vet or call (571) 730-6880 to learn more about the program.