ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Heroes come in different shapes and sizes, and sometimes, they even have four legs and fur. Your furry friend is now able to donate blood to save the lives of other pets in Albuquerque. It’s all made possible through HemoSolutions, a pet blood bank company based out of Colorado Springs, C.O. Dr.Peter Schwarz of Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center off Montgomery between Carlisle and San Mateo is helping make this happen.
Dr. Schwarz donates the space and HemoSolutions provides all the equipment needed to make donations possible. The company was established in 2004 to address the nationwide shortage of blood for dogs. Their goal is to ensure dogs have a safe, reliable source of blood available to them when and where they need it.
“I do see everyday, dogs that do need blood and sometimes it’s very hard to get.”Kathy Newman, RVT
Veterinarians say blood can be the difference between life and death for pets experiencing trauma, anemia, and other blood diseases, but donating only takes between three and five minutes. Technicians use what’s called a vacuum pump to draw blood quickly, making the experience easy and painless for donor dogs.
The need for blood is so high, there’s a four to six-week waitlist nationwide. Pets are volunteered by their owners to donate, then technicians take a blood sample to ensure the dog is healthy and able to donate. Once the results come back clear, animals can donate as often as once a month.
“I put myself in the shoes of all these other owners…when you have a dog and they get so sick and they have to have blood, and then you’re told we don’t have the blood, it just breaks your heart because there’s nothing you can do.”Kathy Newman, RVT
How it works
Veterinary techs draw just under a pint of blood, which can be used to save the lives of up to three different dogs. Dogs must be between one and 8-years-old and weigh at least 50 pounds. They must also never have had a transfusion themselves.
On Friday, KRQE News 13 had the pleasure of meeting Thaddeus, Ava, and Winston, three donor dogs all giving their blood to help save the lives of dogs hit by cars, or experiencing medical complications.
HemoSolutions ship blood donations all over the United States, from the East Coast to the West Coast. The company only accepts blood donations from healthy dogs who live with caring owners, instead of using kennel-kept dogs. The company feels this approach is more ethical, but also more challenging as they work to find enough suitable donors.
Albuquerque’s blood drive donor, Melissa Smiley, says they wanted to expand to New Mexico because there’s a positive and caring pet culture here. She says pet owners in Colorado say they have their pets donate to help the community and to ensure their own dogs have the blood they need should an emergency arise.
There’s also a monetary incentive for dogs who donate six times. HemoSolutions send a check of between $75 and $150 to the pet’s vet based on the rarity of their blood type. The vet then keeps that money as a credit to be used for vaccinations, food or toys. HemoSolutions says that’s to ensure the money will be spent on the donor dog and not on their owner.
Friday marked HemoSolutions’ first-ever blood drive in Albuquerque. They’re now looking to expand their donor bank, and will also be operating out of ABQ Pet Care Hospital. Smiley says they will be operating Monday through Friday and can arrange Saturday drives to accommodate donating clients.
To find out if your dog could help save the lives of other dogs in need, call Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center at (505) 884-3433.