Central Indiana animal blood bank faces critical shortage, in need of donors
In the midst of the giving season, IndyVet Emergency & Specialty Hospital is urging pet owners, and even animal shelters to enroll four-legged friends in its Canine & Feline Blood Donor Program.
Since 2012, the number of donors has diminished significantly due to factors like high-turnover rate. Animals over eight years old have to retire since it can be taxing on the health of senior pets.
Currently, 221 dogs and 85 cats are active donors, but the hospital needs at least 100 more.
"There's always an ongoing need, but we need animal blood now more than ever," said Amy Waggoner, manager of IndyVet's animal blood bank. "Especially around the holidays—we have to prepare for that spike in emergency care."
The program works to supply blood to hundreds of veterinary clinics locally and across the nation. Every donation can save anywhere from 2-4 lives by providing blood for transfusions and major surgeries.
"We have up to 20 hospitals on our waiting list, so it's crucial for us to have blood on hand at all times," Waggoner said. "Orders keep coming in, but we can't fulfill them without donors."
Waggoner says breeds like boxers, pit bulls, mastiffs, greyhounds and American bulldogs are typically universal donors, but encourages any breed meeting basic requirements to apply to the program.
Cats and dogs must be:
The initial screening process involves physical and behavioral tests for qualified pets. Physical tests determine if the animal is healthy enough to become a donor.
- Between 1 - 8 years of age
- 35 pounds minimum weight (dogs), or 9 pounds (cats)
- In good general health and current on all vaccinations (records required)
- Taking heartworm preventative medication (dogs)
- Pass a comprehensive blood screening, blood typing and infectious disease screen.
Behavioral tests evaluate the mental stability of the animal so the pet isn't distressed during the 5-minute donation. It will also determine if the donor will need a mild sedative, which most don't require.
The hospital sees participating blood donors travel from all over Central Indiana—Fishers, Bloomington, and even as far as Seymour. As part of the program, donors must donate at least six times a year.
There is no cost to enroll as a donor. Instead, donors receive special perks— free annual exams, annual vaccines, yearly blood work and heartworm testing. A 40 percent discount is issued for other services like heartworm and flea medication, and emergency services.
"There are so many eligible pets out there that could be saving lives," Waggoner said.
"As we see caseloads grow, people need to speak up for their pets," she said. "And with the owners help, pets can be heroes, too."
To book a screening appointment with the IndyVet Canine & Feline Blood Donor Program, call 317.782.4484.