HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Veterinarians are doing more and more to save our pets, and sometimes they need animal blood products to do so. There is just one animal blood bank in the Houston area, and right now they are looking for more donors to meet a very wide demand.
"I have 5 Irish Wolfhounds who can donate, and they've all donated at least once," Susan Lipka tells us, as her dog Killian is being prepped at North Houston Veterinary Specialists near Katy.
Lipka has volunteered her dogs for a donation every other month for a year.
"I think it's important," Lipka says. "I'm a blood donor myself, and if they can save a dog's life, or several dogs lives, because there are different products they can retrieve from blood, they're being good citizens. I think we all have a responsibility to be good citizens."
"Right now there's a two week national back order on blood products," says Talar Everett, NHVS Blood Bank Coordinator.
NHVS has a very busy operating room, performing lifesaving surgeries every day.
"Being a specialty practice we see a lot of cancer patients, surgery patients, trauma, toxins, and autoimmune issues, that need blood products for life saving reasons," Everett says.
Since starting the animal blood bank in January, NHVS has registered 60 dog donors. Most are employee pets or local police dogs. But they're still trying to get the word out to the public. They need 120 to 150 dogs on the register to meet the supply.
"Because of the demand in the Houston area, and the shortage in the nation right now, we're providing blood to our other sister hospitals in different states, as well as local vet clinics here in town," Everett says.
The animal blood bank is for both dogs and cats. To be eligible they must be 1 to 8 years old. The dogs, at least 50 pounds with no history of heart worms, the cats at least 10 pounds, must be strictly indoor cats.
After 6 donations, any pet in your family would be eligible for free blood products if there were a need. Cats do need sedation for the procedure. Many dogs handle it with no sedation at all. But the exams and lab fees are free.
"It's a little bit of a commitment because you do have to take the time to bring them in," says Dr. Jack Ying, a Veterinarian at NHVS, "but it's definitely worth it. They are saving lives."
Drawing the blood takes 5 to 7 minutes, but then there's a peanut butter treat for the dogs to look forward to.
Lipka simply says this is one visit to the vet that always leaves her smiling.
"I always hear such nice stories with what's happened with the blood that makes e feel good," she tells us. "I think if you feel good, your dog feels good."
NHVS is part of the Blue Pearl network of animal hospitals.
For more information anywhere in the country, go to https://bluepearlvet.com/, and do a search for blood bank. You can also call NHVS locally at 281-675-6000.