MONKTON, Md. (WJLA) -- Every six weeks, Kimmy and Fanny make a two-hour trek to sacrifice a pint of blood. As greyhounds, their blood is in especially high demand.
“Once they're up there they just lay down and relax,” says owner Doug Trone. “Greyhounds have a much higher than average red blood cell count and usually pretty docile, so they make ideal candidates for blood donation.”
But right now, the Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank is desperate for all breeds of dogs to become blood donors, as it’s experiencing a critical shortage in supply.
This is the first time we've ever experienced a shortage where we didn't have enough blood to send to all the hospitals that needed it,” explains licensed veterinary technician, Rebecca Pearce.
The blood goes nationwide to dogs that are having surgery, experiencing trauma, or like Izzie, have a life-threatening disease.
“Izzie was a rescue dog from a puppy mill, I believe, in West Virginia and was very sick with parvovirus and near death,” says Izzie’s owner, Suzanne Castle.
Thanks to a plasma transfusion, Izzie survived and is thriving. Castle says it absolutely saved her dogs life.
According to Rebecca Pearce, the only way for dogs to receive blood is to have it from a donor. To be eligible to donate, dogs must be at least 35 pounds, healthy, vaccinated, and between the ages of nine months and seven years. And they should be good-natured, like Tosca.
“He’s very good about it -- it's almost as if he knows he's doing something good,” says Tosca’s owner, Barbara Robinson.
It isn’t painful for the dogs, but a handler snuggles behind them to keep them comfortable. And if they need a little extra coaxing, some treats or a little peanut butter on the nose usually do the trick. And in exchange for their blood, the dogs get free lab work and receive blood, if needed, at no cost for the rest of their lives.