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Blood donor dogs are real life savers

PUBLISHED: 10:45 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:26 03 July 2010

Lifesavers: Fizzy (left) and Zoe

Lifesavers: Fizzy (left) and Zoe

IF you told a friend that your dog had just given blood they would probably think you were barking mad.

When people hear the words "blood donor" they usually think of volunteers popping down to one of the National Blood Service's mobiles and few realise that their much loved cats and dogs can also help save lives.

IF you told a friend that your dog had just given blood they would probably think you were barking mad.

When people hear the words “blood donor” they usually think of volunteers popping down to one of the National Blood Service's mobiles and few realise that their much loved cats and dogs can also help save lives.

The Veterinary Hospital in Beccles Road, Gorleston urgently needs cat and dog owners to register their pets as blood donors as staff are often faced with a struggle to find donors if a pet needing emergency treatment needs blood.

Vet Elissa Cox said staff had had to deal with three cases in the last six months where blood transfusions were needed.

One of these was a dog needing blood following a road crash while another was a dog that needed blood following spleen surgery.

Fortunately, on each occasion staff were able to find a donor by contacting owners registered on the hospital's computer database, but she said the hospital needed a dedicated list of blood donors that staff could call on.

Elissa said: “I think it is something that a lot of people are not aware of. It is not something that is talked about much really.”

Dogs can be donors if they weigh under 25kgs and are aged under seven, and greyhounds are particularly valued as donor dogs because their blood type rarely reacts and the red blood cells are more concentrated. They are also bigger than many other dog species so vets can take more blood from them.

Two greyhounds that have become lifesavers are Fizzy and Zoe, who were found their homes through Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders.

Fizzy's owner Julie Goodwin, of Bately Avenue, Gorleston specialises in homing rescue dogs - she's had five during the last 30 years, including a Labrador cross Husky and a Labrador.

She explained six-year-old Fizzy last gave blood just before Christmas, providing a pint at the Beccles Road hospital for a Springer Spaniel which had been knocked down by a car and was bleeding heavily in its chest.

Mrs Goodwin said the call was the first she had for Fizzy, known as Zulu Princess during her racing days, since she the greyhound came into her life a year ago.

She said: “We got a phone call out of the blue from the vets saying a dog had been seriously injured. They just rang me up and said it's life was in the balance. I had no problem with Fizzy giving blood. You never know when your own dog's going to need a transfusion. You just do what you can to help at the time.”

Five-year-old greyhound Zoe, who lives with owner Russell Gilbert in Caister, has also given blood to a stricken Springer Spaniel, visiting the vets to donate on July 2.

Mr Gilbert, of The Fairway, took Zoe into the family 18 months ago and he specialises in rescuing greyhounds - there are three others at home; Lewie, four, Freddie, five and Joe, seven.

He said: “I was just happy to help really.”

Elissa Cox said: “People who allow their dogs to give blood are helping to save other dogs. You should remember that one day it might be your dog and you could find yourself in a position where you would hope somebody would do that for your dog.”

To register your dog as a donor at the Beccles Road vet hospital, phone 01493 661833.

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