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Pet blood donations help save lives

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DECATUR, Ga. - You know there's a desperate need for people to give blood, but did you know your dog can donate as well? Animals need blood for a number of reasons, if they are diagnosed with cancer or hit by a car.
 
It only takes a few minutes, it doesn’t hurt your pet and the donation can save another animal’s life.
 
Dr. Jeremy Tarlow worked in emergency pet medicine for years and learned that when local veterinary hospitals need blood, they don't often have a place to turn.

"They would either need to get blood and overnight it from an out of state blood bank, or draw blood from a hospital employee's pet who may have not had time to do the proper screenings to make sure that they are an appropriate donor," said Tarlow.
 
Two years ago Tarlow started Best Friends Blood Bank in Decatur, a place where pets can donate blood. “People can bring their dogs and cats in to donate blood.  They can get screened, get some free lab work, a free exam, and see if their pets qualify," said Tarlow.
 
To be able to donate dogs need to weigh at least 50 pounds, be under eight years old and have the preferred blood type.
 
Cats can also donate blood. They must weigh at the least ten pounds, be under nine years old and live indoors.
 
Amanda Ellery said her dog Ziggy donates every two months and it doesn't bother him a bit.
 
"He just takes it in stride, no aftereffects. He is a little lazier in the afternoon and by evening he is ready to go again,” said Ellery.
 
Ziggy's blood is sent to places like Blue Pearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs, where Ken Westrick's dog Turco was diagnosed with cancer.
 
"He just wasn't himself, he just wanted to sleep all the time.  He had no interest in eating,” said Westrick. "He couldn't even walk up the steps.  He wasn't able, so I had to carry him up the steps.”
 
Turco received two bags of donated blood as part of his treatment. The blood helped him recover from taxing chemotherapy.
 
 Westrick said he had never heard of dogs donating blood, but that kindness from strangers has allowed Turco to return to a normal life.
 
"When the blood is delivered to the vet it goes with a little postcard that's addressed to the donors and that allows the family of the pet that receives the blood to write a little thank you," said Tarlow.
 
For more information about Best Friends Blood Bank, go to http://bestfriendsbloodbank.com/.

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