Joint blood drive draws owners, pets in Las Vegas
Empty vials and fresh needles lie across the countertops as technicians soothe the incoming blood donors.
Bags of treats sit on the countertop and self-proclaimed, "I'm a blood donor," bandanas are folded neatly beside them.
But as the technicians softly prod for veins, it's not uncomfortable words of pain that patients let out but a softer bark or whimper instead.
Twelve dogs and two cats participated in the first joint blood drive of the Las Vegas Animal Blood Bank and United Blood Services on Saturday. Cats and dogs were brought in to donate blood at the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center, while some of their owners donated their own blood nearby.
Three-year-old Shimmer, a Labrador retriever and patient of the hospital, was one of the first to be screened. As one technician sanitized and searched for Shimmer's jugular vein - where blood is usually taken from animals - another gently held him in place and whispered consolingly as they filled the screening vials.
Within minutes they left the procedure room, Shimmer wagging his tail proudly. A new bandana around his neck read: "Pet me. I'm a blood donor."
PET BLOOD NEEDS OVERLOOKED
Although donating blood is a common practice for humans, it is often overlooked for pets even though there is a dire need, said Bri Durham, coordinator of the Las Vegas Animal Blood Bank.
"A lot of people are scared to have a pet in that situation - to make them donate blood," she said. "But they're OK. Since my dog turned 2, I've had him donate and over time, he's been able to save 72 lives."
While local animal hospitals once relied solely on blood from banks in Michigan, Durham said their need has far surpassed what out-of-state banks can supply.
On average, out-of-state banks can provide only about 14 units of blood per month. And though helpful, that number is minimal compared to the need of local pets - about 60 units per month.
Shimmer's owner, Jessie Broadway, said she thinks it is perfectly sensible to have pets donate blood as well.
"I donate," she said. "This is natural and it's the right thing to do"
While Shimmer has been through two surgeries without the need of a blood transfusion, she said, the possibility is always there, which is why it is so important to have a supply of blood.
Jaimie Haas, a hospital liaison, agreed, noting that while it's never something you want to think about, it's still important.
"We always tell people we hope we don't see you again, because generally when you come to the hospital it's not very good," she said. "This is the same. In an ideal world we wouldn't need this. Prevention medication and vaccines would be enough, but we want to make sure (blood) is available just in case."
BLOOD BANK'S BEGINNINGS
The Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center started its own blood bank in 2006 as a ...