This pit is a lifesaver.
Rachel Redd from Hobbs Animal Clinic poses with Uno, a
7-year-old pit bull who donates blood to help save the
lives of dogs.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010
Most of the time pit bulls make news for maulings and killings, but 7-year-old Uno isn’t a life-taker. He’s a life saver.
Uno donates his blood to save the lives of other pets in need of blood transfusions. Not unlike humans, dogs have different blood types and like the O-negative blood- type in humans, Uno has a universal blood type that can be used with all other dogs.
Dogs have antigens in their blood that can reach negatively in other dogs. Dogs like Uno have antigens that are less likely to cause a reaction, making them, for lack of a better term, universal donors.
“He has given to a Yorkie, a Border Collie mix and a German shepherd,” said Uno’s owner, Amanda Green of Hobbs. “I think its is kind of funny that these tiny dogs are getting blood from a Pit bull.”
Uno is no light-weight. At 80 pounds his friendly greeting when meeting someone new is enough to knock a person down, but Uno is a gentle giant. He isn’t just a blood donor, he is a certified therapy dog that vis- its the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.
The blood donor aspect of Uno’s life came while Green was working at Hobbs Animal Clinic and a patient dog was in need of a blood transfusion. Veterinarian Don Newman tested Uno and discovered he was a universal donor.
“It is nice to know too that your dog is giving back to the community,” Green said.
The process of a dog or cat donating blood is similar to a person doing it, but it can be much tougher because the animal has to be calm enough to sit still with a needle in their neck for up to 40 minutes.
Uno not only has the universal blood, but seldom requires sedation, which is not recommended by vets, when giving blood. So recently, when a local dog needed blood, Uno came to the rescue.
Veterinarian Rachel Redd at Hobbs Animal Clinic handled the procedure.
“This dog was significantly low on blood,” she said. “She is doing well as far as I know. She had a lot more energy and was eating well and didn’t appear to have any reactions to the transfusion.”
Redd had several cats as a veterinary students that donated blood and in larger cities with animal hospitals in need of blood regularly, it can pay to have your pet be a donor.
“Both my cats were blood donors and they got free food every month, free blood work and vaccines,” Redd said.
Local veterinarians don’t have the resources to offer those perks, but Redd said Hobbs Animal Clinic offers credits to pet owners who have donor dogs.
Blood transfusions can be costly, as much as $5,000 in some cases, because blood supplies are often limited in rural areas due of a lack of donors and because donated blood cannot be stored for long periods of time.
A donor dog typically needs to be a larger animal, heavier than 70 pounds, because weightier dogs can spare more blood in situations where it is needed for an anemic animal, Redd said. Pets are never asked to donate more than half a liter of blood in a two-three month period.
Dog owners looking to give back by having their pet become a donor should schedule an appointment with their veterinarian and let them know they want to have their pet’s blood tested to see if they are a viable candidate.
“They have to have a good physical exam,” Redd said. “They should be negative for heartworm and other diseases that are bacterial and bloodborn.”
The pet should also be calm and able to remain so during the process of extracting blood, Redd added.