“I’ve seen first-hand that animals need blood, just the way humans do,” said Rudd, an instructor of veterinary technology at Hillsborough Community College. “These dogs are saving lives.”
Rudd and other pet parents gathered at the BluePearl hospital in Tampa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for the annual Blood Donor Appreciation Day. Awards were presented to top donors and retirement certificates given to the dogs and cats who are no longer eligible to donate.
Sienna, a golden retriever, has donated about three gallons of blood and received a certificate Saturday for being a top
“She loves coming here,” said Rudd. “She loves the car ride, plus she always gets a lot of attention.”
Among the other participants at Saturday’s event were Gidget, a 2-year-old terrier mix, and Salem, a 4-year-old pit bull terrier. Gidget received a life-saving infusion of plasma donated by Salem after she ingested rat poison.
Salem is owned by Pibbles to the Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating pit bull terriers recovered by Hillsborough County animal control officers. The organization currently has 10 dogs in the blood donation program at BluePearl.
“A lot of our dogs come from criminal cases,” said Catherine Nelson, the director of Pibbles to the Rescue. “Participating in blood donation is a way for them to pay it forward to society.”
The blood bank program was created at BluePearl about seven years ago, said Dr. Dee Ann Dugger, a senior clinician at BluePearl and the director of the blood bank program. Blood is collected two to three times per week at BluePearl’s Tampa and Brandon hospitals.
To be eligible to donate, pets must be between the ages of 1 and 8. Dogs must weigh at least 50 pounds and cats at least 10 pounds. They must be neutered or spayed with no past pregnancies, and they should have had no prior blood transfusions. In addition, they must be current on vaccinations and heartworm preventative.
Saturday’s event also featured treats for the pets, snacks for the humans, a photo booth and hospital tours. Dugger said it’s the hospital’s way of thanking the pets and their parents for their kindness and generosity.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to show our appreciation,” said Dugger. “We want them to know how much their contributions are valued.”