ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- It can be an overlooked issue... but just like humans, pets need blood donors in times of an emergency.
Holly is a four year-old Pitbull-Boxer mix. And she is the newest helper for the Emergency Veterinary Service in Rochester... being dubbed a Universal Blood Donor Dog.Her owners, Rick and Ruth Johnson, didn't know a dog like Holly was in demand.
"Just because we both donated blood and I've donated blood for years. And I read an article, probably on Facebook, about dogs that could donate blood," said Ruth. "And that larger breed dogs, a lot of times pit bulls and boxers were usually good donor candidates."
"Basically they are on call for when we need blood for a patient and we don't have available and pet dry blood cells or plasma," said Veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Tagliente.
As a blood donor, Holly was subject to an in depth health analysis involving blood screening, plasma testing, or making sure she had no infections to pass on.
"She passed all of her tests with flying colors," said Tagliente. And, unlike humans, dog blood types are numbered and not lettered.
"The ideal donors are 1.1 and 1.2-negative. And that's what Holly is," said Tagliente. Tagliente has a great appreciation for what these dogs can do. "One of my colleagues had a case where basically the dog had a bleeding tumor in the abdomen and it was very near death when they got here. She rushed the dog into surgery and rushed the dog donor in and pumped the blood in as fast as they could and that saved that dogs life," she said. "So sometimes it means the difference from life or death."
Serious situations could come down to the second.
"She's always good with people so it was nice for us to know that she would be a good cooperative dog for when they do need to donate," said Ruth.
The time hasn't come yet, but when it does... Holly will be ready.
Dr. Tagliente says, the event of needing and emergency donor doesn't occur often just... once or twice a year.
Holly is one of two donor dogs assisting this clinic in Rochester.
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