The need for blood donations is climbing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic — and not just for humans.
The Canadian Animal Blood Bank is setting up emergency clinics across the country, including in Alberta, as there is a spike in the need for donations for dogs.
“The hospitals we supply for have also seen an increase in emergency cases and cases requiring blood product therapy,” CABB Calgary manager Bobbie Gray said Sunday.
“The thought is that people aren’t accompanying their dogs into these facilities, so maybe there’s a wait before the animal presents to the hospital and then when they present, their medical needs are far more advanced.
“We have seen that Calgary actually has been consuming a lot of blood products.”
Making matters more difficult, many of the buildings that typically host the CABB’s clinics have been forced to cancel due to pandemic hosting and gathering restrictions.
The group has turned to setting up smaller emergency blood drives with extended hours — and with that comes a big change in procedures. Families can no longer be with their dog during the donation process to limit contact with volunteers.
“We’re doing our pre-donation questionnaire online prior to the dogs coming in,” Gray explained.
“We’re screening families for COVID, we are dressing in full PPE and we’re asking owners to have their dogs accessible in a part of their vehicle with their collar and lead off just so we’re not touching the dog’s belongings either.”
Cathy Jenkins’ dog Rookie recently completed his fifth donation — and his first during the pandemic.
What makes the two-year-old black lab extra special is that he’s a universal donor.
“His blood is so valuable because he has the potential to help someone right away,” Jenkins said. “Without that being available, it’s scary to think somebody’s best friend wouldn’t be coming home.”
Additional emergency clinics are scheduled for May 24 in Calgary and on May 31 in Cochrane.
Donor dogs must be at least one year old and weigh at least 25 kilograms to donate. A typical donation will see a dog contribute 450 millilitres, the equivalent of what a human would donate.
Appointments can be booked on the CABB’s website.
As far as donor families are concerned, if one dog can be saved, it’s worth it.
“If the tables were ever turned and it was your dog that needed help, you would be forever grateful for that unsung hero,” Jenkins added.