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National Blood Donor Month: Pets need blood, too

SEATTLE – National Blood Donor Month is in January, an annual reminder for people about the importance of donating blood. But what many people don’t realize is pets need blood donors, too.

“We’re always looking for donors,” said Heather Montgomery, director of the ACCES Blood Bank, the only veterinary blood bank in Seattle. “The demand is always greater than the supply. Because there are so few veterinary blood banks in the U.S., it’s a countrywide shortage.”

Pets need transfusions for many of the same reasons as people, including injuries, surgery or diseases that cause the body to destroy its own blood cells. The donated blood saves pets’ lives, Montgomery said.

The ACCES Blood Bank opened in 2004 and currently has about 122 active donor dogs and 94 donor cats. You can read more about the donors here. The blood bank’s goal is to reach 150 dogs and 125 cats in 2017, Montgomery added.

The ACCES Blood Bank is located at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Seattle, which offers emergency care and has board-certified experts in specialties that include surgery, internal medicine, oncology and others. While ACCES provides blood to BluePearl, it also ships it to other Seattle-area veterinary hospitals as well as hospitals around the country.

Leslie Csokasy brings her greyhound, Laddie, to the blood bank every two months to donate blood. Her previous greyhound, Eddie, set a record for the most donations.

“He loved going to the blood bank,” Csokasy said. “I think he liked being the center of attention, because he was a bit of a ham. He liked the treats, too.”

To donate, dogs and cats must be between the ages of 1-6 and must be in good health. Learn more here.

Cats and dogs who donate also get some benefits, at no cost to their owners. These include a free physical exam, complete blood work-up, tests for heartworm and other ailments and of course, plenty of hugs and kisses.

Csokasy, the owner of Great Dog Seattle, said she finds having her pets donate blood very rewarding because it gives her a chance to give back to the community of pet owners.

“It’s an opportunity to share a little bit of your pet with others who need it most,” she said.