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Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank Canine Donor Program FAQs

What is a blood donor? A blood donor is someone or something that gives blood. Canine blood donors come in all breeds and disciplines. We find that all good donor dogs are dogs that have good temperaments and confidence and that have been handled or exposed to varying situations outside of their homes. From a physical standpoint, donors should be free of disease and in overall good health and weight. There is not one particular breed that is better, but there are some breeds that don’t seem to do well from a physiological standpoint. Some breeds are inherently good natured and seem to do very well in general with therapy or volunteer/guide dog work.

We stress the importance of this being a volunteer program. While that means we face more challenges, the end result feels better for everyone, namely our volunteers (both canines and owners) and donor recipients. The blood we collect is sent nationwide to hospitals to treat emergencies, cancer and other illnesses and accidents, so you are a life-saving part of a network of veterinary hospitals that provides humane blood to patients in need.

We are the largest all-canine, volunteer, humane blood bank in the country. You will be part of an organization consisting entirely of volunteer donors. We only accept blood from volunteer donor dogs because we believe one animal’s quality of life should not be enhanced at the expense of another. The original blood bank, EVBB, was started in Severna Park in the early 1990s. BRVA decided to carry on that torch in early 2011, thus ensuring access to life-saving blood nationwide. We have expanded our ability to supply local animal hospitals, emergency centers, cancer treatment centers and university teaching hospitals, and we have helped multiple non-profit groups throughout the years as well.

What is it like to be a blood donor with BRVBB? You and your pet become a life-saving part of one of the largest all-volunteer, humane, canine blood banks in the country. We are committed to ensuring the availability of canine blood to help veterinarians, technicians and the general public make best use of the advances in modern transfusion medicine.

Donor dogs get free health screenings by LVTs or DVMs; annual blood screenings; annual Lyme, heartworm, ehrlichia and anaplasma (4dx) screenings; treats; snuggles and bragging rights! It is ultimately their choice to hang with us.

Joining the team is very simple. Qualifying dogs must:

  • be over 40 pounds
  • be between one to seven years of age
  • be up to date on rabies and DHPPCV vaccinations, preventative schedules and monthly flea/tick/heartworm prevention
  • not be on long term medications (some are acceptable and will be discussed during screening)
  • be people friendly and generally healthy

A quick pre-screening over the phone with our donor coordinator establishes that the dog meets our basic criteria. We then schedule you a convenient appointment time on-site. We will have you and your dog come in for a meet-and-greet evaluation so we can see how comfortable your dog is with our staff. We like to see if dogs are food motivated and what their temperaments are like. Our staff will happily give your dog treats if they have no dietary restrictions. We practice getting up and lying on the table with your dog, sometimes even drawing our initial blood screening if your pup is super comfortable. If everyone is happy and your dog seems to be a good fit for the program, pending the blood work results, we invite you to enter the program. All that we ask is for your commitment of five to seven donations per calendar year. We try to schedule all donors every five to seven weeks, and your dog can donate upwards of eight to nine times per year.

We basically teach donors a new trick: how to lie down on a cushy massage table while being snuggled (this is for safety) and either receive snacks or belly rubs for a total of five to 10 minutes. Right before the draw begins, we will get your dog comfortable and shave and clean the donation site for sterility, and then your dog will give a donation. The actual donation time varies from three to five minutes, depending on the volume taken and the rate of flow.  Sometimes, this is an easy task; other times, we are not successful. Just like with human donations, there are a lot of factors that go into successful donations.

We are excited to have you learn more about our program! If you are interested in participating, please call our donor coordinator, Chris, at 703-909-4004 Option 3, or send an email to dogsdonateblood@gmail.com. We can do a pre-screen over the phone or by email and then set up an appointment if your dog qualifies.

Visit our Facebook page to learn more about our donors and their families and for more information on on-site visits and events.