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Seattle’s only veterinary blood bank reaches a milestone

SEATTLE –  After more than a decade of saving pets’ lives through blood donations, the ACCES Blood Bank affiliated with BluePearl Veterinary Partners has now grown to include more than 200 active dog and cat donors. The program has become the largest veterinary blood bank in Washington, and is the only one in Seattle.

Dante has been a blood donor for the ACCES Blood Bank, affiliated with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Dante has been a blood donor for the ACCES Blood Bank, affiliated with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

“This is a goal that we have been working towards for a couple years, so we are very happy that we finally reached it,” said Dr. Beth Davidow, a board-certified critical care specialist and medical director of the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospitals in Seattle and Renton, which were formerly known as ACCES. “Thank you to everyone for helping us spread the word and recruit new donors.”

Davidow already is looking for additional people and pets to join the program, as a way to save the lives of even more dogs and cats.

“The Puget Sound area is continuing to grow and as people move here, they also bring their pets,” said Davidow. “In order to be able to make sure all pets in need have access to safe, reliable blood products, we now need at least 150 dog donors and 100 cat donors.  That means 250 donors, and we need our community’s help.”

Jessica Angel of Seattle said her 9-year-old dog Scout loves coming in to give blood because he likes the treats, toys and attention he gets while donating. She brings her cat Russ in as well. For her part, she enjoys participating in the program because “it’s a good way to help other animals. You’re helping all kinds of dogs and cats, with just a little time.”

Pets need blood transfusions for many of the same reasons as humans, such as injuries, surgery or diseases that cause the body to destroy its own blood cells. To get needed blood, pets rely on other dogs and cats – and of course the kindness of human pet owners. Last year donors to the ACCES Blood Bank gave enough blood to provide 1,100 life-saving transfusions in Puget Sound and the western United States.

Most people who allow their pets to become blood donors simply want to help other animals. But there are some other benefits as well, such as free physical examinations of pets and the possibility of a free transfusion, if one becomes necessary.

Gail has been a blood donor for the ACCES Blood Bank, affiliated with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Gail has been a blood donor for the ACCES Blood Bank, affiliated with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Here’s how the program works:

  • Pets must be healthy and well-behaved, current on their vaccines and between 1 and 6 years old. They must never have had a transfusion and cannot be taking any long-term medications other than flea preventatives. Dogs must be at least 55 pounds and cats must be at least 10 pounds. Indoor cats only, please.
  • The pet owner calls 206.364.1660 to schedule an appointment for the potential dog or cat donor. There are several possible locations in the greater Seattle area, including the BluePearl hospital at 11536 Lake City Way NE, Seattle.
  • The pet will receive a brief, no-cost exam. A small amount of blood will be drawn for typing and testing.
  • If preliminary screening results indicate the pet can donate, the pet will return for the first donation and for additional blood screening.
  • Once approved, the new blood donor will be asked to commit to return every two to three months for three years.
  • Dogs donors are rewarded with treats and lots of love and affection from the staff. The process takes about 30 minutes.
  • Cats are dropped off at the hospital and given a mild anesthetic. They can be picked up four hours later.
  • In addition to a free physical exam by a licensed veterinarian and free annual blood screenings, each pet will get a free toy with each donation. They also are eligible for one free blood transfusion, if they ever need one.