Four-legged blood donors wanted at Whistler vet clinic

A veterinary clinic in Whistler, B.C., is looking to create is own roster of four-legged blood donors to ensure local pets have quicker access to blood when they need it.

Twin Trees Veterinary Clinic put out a call for more pet owners to bring their dogs or cats forward to be added to an on-call donor list.

Veterinarian Dr. Melina Lopez said transfusions can save an animals life, if they've lost a lot of blood due to an accident or an illness.

"It's really important to have a roster of individuals you can contact in an emergency situation, so that we can stabilize patients and get them to a larger hospital," she said. "That way, they can have access to more blood resources, if that's what they need."

Animal blood banks are fairly common in urban areas like Metro Vancouver, but Lopez said it's trickier for rural communities.

When it comes to whole blood — which contains the red blood cells animals need after blood loss — Lopez said banks don't work as well for two reasons.

First, whole blood is more expensive. Second, it only has a shelf life of about a month.

Clinics in bigger, busier cities might use up the plasma before it goes bad, but the need is more sporadic in a place like Whistler. 

So, Twin Trees is looking to create its own roster to keep a fresh stock.

Donating dogs should be:

- Between one and seven years old.

- At least 55 pounds.

- Up-to-date with vaccinations, flea and heart worm control.

Cats should be:

- Between one and six years old.

- At least 10 pounds.

- Indoors-only.

- Vaccinated.

All animal should be kind-mannered and feel at ease in a vet's office. They must also commit to donating twice a year for two years.

The clinic looks for dog donors with universal blood types, while they need both Type A and B feline donors.

Ideally, Lopez said, they also like snacks.

"We give them lots of treats," she said.