Blood hounds in demand

PVS Emergency Care head veteranarian Neal O’Connor with Floyd the grateful patient and Leah the gracious donor.
PVS Emergency Care head veteranarian Neal O’Connor with Floyd the grateful patient and Leah the gracious donor.

Owner Cherie Baxter said the dog collapsed at home because of a tumour on the organ.

‘He had to go into emergency surgery to have that removed and due to the blood loss needed the transfusion,’ she said.

‘It was life-saving essentially because he was passing.’

Perth Vet Specialists (PVS) Emergency Care, who treated Floyd, and other emergency practices traditionally collected donations for use in surgery from racing greyhounds set to be destroyed .

However, head vet Neal O’Connor said their emergency care service wanted to launch a register of local dogs as an alternative method to boost stocks.

‘Our biggest reason for giving blood is an operation where a lot of blood has been lost ” usually surgery inside the stomach, spleen or liver,’ he said.

‘Some dogs will come in and they’ve already started to bleed into their stomach because they have a tumour like what Floyd had, so by the time he came in he had a belly full of blood.

‘This really could be a matter of life or death.’

He said canine blood could be stored for about three weeks but they needed a regular supply and they could only take blood from an animal every three months.

‘Most donors on our list at the moment are hospital staff who have brought their own dogs in but we just don’t have enough of those,’ he said.

Dr O’Connor said that as an incentive they were offering to provide free blood screenings and typing for dogs that donated.

He said if they were unable to attract the numbers, they could be forced to buy blood from the University of Melbourne, which would come at a cost for those needing the transfusions.

PVS intern Melyssa Cotton, of Butler, brought her two-year-old weimaramer Leah in to donate knowing stocks were low and their contribution could help save a life.

‘We had just started up the emergency centre (in February) and I knew that they were in desperate need of blood for the weekend,’ she said.

‘The blood doesn’t last very long because it always gets used’