W. Jean Dodds, DVM, established Hemopet — the nation’s first 501(c)3 non-profit animal blood bank and greyhound rescue/adoption program — in 1986. Hemopet’s licensed animal blood bank provides state-of-the-art blood components and supplies for transfusions to veterinary clinics nationwide and internationally. Hemopet makes transfusion medicine practical, safe and affordable, as well as benefits the donor greyhounds directly by adopting them out as family companions.
The three pillars — practical, safe and affordable — are evident in Dr. Dodds’ realization of Hemopet. California was carefully chosen as Hemopet’s location as it is the only state that licenses, inspects and requires “closed colony” animal blood banks. This helps to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases between animals. Hemopet houses approximately 200 greyhounds who are retired from racing and donate blood. Due to the nature of the racing industry, greyhounds often have detailed medical histories which ensure the quality and safety of Hemopet’s blood bank.
Once they enter our facility, the greyhounds donate a pediatric-size unit of blood about twice per month typically for 12, but not more than 18 months. During the donation process, the donor sits on a pillow while an assistant cradles the greyhound’s head to keep the body steady. Hemopet does not use any tranquilizers or anesthesia as these are not needed to collect the blood, nor is it healthy to introduce these substances into the recipient patient. In the meantime, all the donor dogs get plenty of outside exercise, socialization and playtime with each other, the staff, and many regular or visiting volunteers.
A conservative estimate would be that each resident greyhound blood donor saves about 35-40 dog lives. On the grand scale, Hemopet’s colony of greyhounds has saved thousands of cherished pets each year throughout the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Mexico. The blood is used for a variety of illnesses, and preventive needs. The fresh-frozen plasma is used to treat orphaned pups, parvovirus, heat stroke, bleeding diseases, ingestion of rat poison, and snake or spider bites. Packed red blood cells are often used in treating both acute and chronic blood loss anemia.
After completing their donor days, the dogs transfer within the facility to the Pet Life-Line Greyhound Adoption Program. Pet Life-Line then assesses the dogs to decide if they should go into foster care or straight to their new forever homes.
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