A topic that I have been thinking of recently is that of owners signing up their pets as dog blood donors. I am seeing an increasing number of stories in the news that depict how a hero dog has saved another dog’s life by giving blood.
I recently read a story where an eight-year-old dog in America had been signed up as a blood donor from the age of one and since then has ‘given’ blood every six weeks (the timeframe recommended by the vet), meaning that he is giving the maximum amount of blood possible. Dogs can replenish their blood in about three weeks, so the six-weekly donation period allows for the dog in this story to give regularly without him suffering any negative health effects. As a result, it is estimated that the dog could have been responsible for saving between 122 – 224 dogs’ lives.
Whilst I have no doubt in my mind that it is amazing for a dog to have a second chance at life thanks to another dog and medical science, I still have a thought niggling in the back of my head concerning the way that dogs are labelled as heroes for ‘giving’ blood. A dog that gives blood isn’t doing so because they choose to, it is the owner’s choice at the end of the day. I am in no way saying that it is wrong for owners to sign their dog up to give blood; on the contrary I think it is commendable for a human to want to help save another animal’s life. I just worry that the whole decision making process that owners go through is overlooked by the press when they report on such stories.
Signing your dog up to the blood register is something that owners do not take lightly, and rightly so. You are trying to decide whether you want to put a member of your family, who does not have a voice, into a situation that they may very well not like and certainly won’t understand. It is the same thought process as when your dog needs to have an injection or vaccination at the vets.
Of course, the point could be made that once a dog has given blood on a number of occasions then they will be used to the whole situation, but this is not why I question labelling them as heroes. While I agree that they are very brave to undergo the procedure, and it is amazing to hear how a dog’s life has been saved, surely some of the focus should also be on the owners? After all, they are the ones who have displayed the compassion and selflessness to volunteer their dog to donate blood in the first place.
Also, a question I have is if press stories were to be reported in a more balanced way, then would it potentially increase the number of dog owners who would sign up to donate their dog’s blood?
Whether your dog is already a donor or not, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.