We told you recently about the growing demand for pet blood donations and the efforts many local veterinary practices are making to help. One practice, Far Country Animal Hospital in Palmer, Alaska, set up a local pet blood donation program as a major initiative for its region.

“Before we started our Canine Blood Bank Program, blood products had to be flown in from California, which sometimes meant life or death for the pet,” said Michael Whittington, a veterinarian at Far Country Animal Hospital. “During emergency situations, we’d bring in our own pets and do a spot transfusion, meaning the injured dog would be on one table and our donor dog would be on the next.”

While this worked as a last available option, the practice saw a need for an official program. To set up the program, a member of the veterinary team took the initiative and received advice from a veterinarian who had experience with blood banks in the past. With this direction, Far Country Animal Hospital was able to open its own Canine Blood Bank in 2009. 

Today, the hospital has a growing pool of pet parents who commit to bringing their pets in to donate blood every 2 or 3 months, allowing the practice to have a ready supply of blood products on hand at all times. In addition, the veterinary practice extended its hours until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and around the clock over the weekend to accommodate as many pet patients as possible.

Far Country Animal Hospital also supplies products to other practices in Alaska for a reduced fee. These practices now have the option to receive their blood products much faster than before Far County’s program started.

To be eligible to donate blood, dogs must weigh at least 50 pounds, be in fine health, have a good temperament, be up-to-date on canine rabies and distemper-parvo vaccinations and not be taking any prescribed medications or have a history of pregnancy.

In return, the charitable canines’ parents can expect rewards such as $300 worth of yearly blood testing, one unit of blood or plasma for every unit donated should their dog ever need it and a “Canine Hero” blood donor bandana for their pooch. After the first year of donations, dogs receive a “Canine Hero” ID tag, which identifies them as an official donor.

To read more about Far Country Animal Hospital and its Canine Blood Bank program, visit http://farcountrypets.com/index.php

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

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