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Making a Difference: Donor dogs & cats provide lifesaving blood for area pets in need

UW Veterinary Care Blood Bank offers donor animals free food, vaccinations, & preventatives
About once a month, Carlos the greyhound eagerly walks with UW Veterinary Care Blood Donor Coordinator Emma Doubleday to donate blood.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 7:35 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2022 at 11:01 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - About once a month, Carlos the greyhound eagerly walks with UW Veterinary Care Blood Donor Coordinator Emma Doubleday to an examination room, where he does something that could save another dog’s life--he donates blood. Carlos, a retired racing track dog, is one of 29 canines and 14 cats that donate blood regularly at the UW Veterinary Care Blood Bank. The blood is used to treat sick or injured animals in need of transfusions.

Greyhound Carlos donates blood at UW Veterinary Care.
Greyhound Carlos donates blood at UW Veterinary Care.(WMTV)

Doubleday says Carlos, whose owner works at the clinic, has been part of the blood donor program for 2 to 3 years. Doubleday said, ”Carlos is a great donor. One, he loves people. He loves coming in. He knows there’s a treat involved, and his ‘Mom’ says he talks all the way in.”

Carlos gets ready to receive a treat after donating blood
Carlos gets ready to receive a treat after donating blood(WMTV)

Doubleday said what Carlos and the other donor animals provide is, “so vital, because there’s no replacement for blood--just like with humans. In our I.C.U. right now there are probably three other animals that could be using transfusions this week. We’ve already done 5 transfusions already this week. It’s very vital.” She said in 2021, the blood bank collected about 300 donations.

Carlos was patient and lying still on the exam table while Doubleday and an assistant collected blood from his jugular vein underneath a numbed and shaved area on his neck. They gave him constant praise, re-assurance, and a treat when he was finished.

The donations are lifesavers for dogs like Chauncey, who nearly bled to death last fall after apparently ingesting some poison. His owners Andy and Wendy Uhl are grateful to still have the now 15-month-old dog in their lives. Andy said, “He was very sick. It’s still shocking. We just don’t know how it happened.”

Chauncey at UW Veterinary Care after ingesting poison.
Chauncey at UW Veterinary Care after ingesting poison.(UW Veterinary Care)

Chauncey needed several transfusions because he was bleeding internally. Veterinarians at UW Veterinary Care were able to save Chauncey with the blood from donor dogs like Carlos. Andy said because of the donor animals, “It means he’s alive. He would have died.”

Chauncey, now completely recovered after nearly dying from ingesting poison.
Chauncey, now completely recovered after nearly dying from ingesting poison.(WMTV)

For Doubleday it makes it all worthwhile to see donations from dogs like Carlos save the lives of dogs like Chauncey. She said, ”It’s also good to see it all the way through. I know who it came from, I know who it went to, and I’ve said it before, but a little bit of my soul is in every single one of the donations and blood products. Knowing that that many lives were changed by something like this? It’s irreplaceable.”

Carlos might be retired from the racetrack, “but he’s a champion in this every day”, Doubleday said.

By the way greyhounds are universal blood donors for nearly all other canines, but your dog certainly doesn’t have to be a greyhound to donate.

Here are the requirements, restrictions, and rewards for dog and cat donors. Donor animals receive free food, routine vaccinations, preventative exams, and dental care.

The clinic is also now expanding into rabbit blood donations.

For more information on how your pet can participate, call 608-263-7600 or email the UW Veterinary Care Blood Bank.

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