Page 3 - Description and Evaluation of a Canine Volunteer Blood Donor Program
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There has been concern that community donor programs would find families
reluctant to consent to their pets becoming donors, which could lead to exploit-
ative practices such as paying for blood donations. Data from human donor pro-
grams indicate that such practices can result in donor exploitation and that paid
donors have higher rates of infectious diseases, thus frequently making them un-
suitable donors (Eastlund, 1998).

We describe a nonprofit, community-based, all-volunteer donor program for
dogs that we have implemented. We evaluate our program from the aspects of do-
nor safety, cost-effectiveness, complication rates, ethical concerns, and commu-
nity integration.


The study was conducted at an East Coast veterinary blood bank operating a
community dog-donor program. A retrospective study design was used. All do-
nor records from the period of October 2003 to December 2004 were included in
the study. Data were obtained from computerized blood donor records, donor
charts, and logs for infectious disease testing and donor complications. The data
on donation complications were obtained by routine telephone follow-up calls
placed by blood bank personnel on the afternoon following donations.

Donors had been recruited using a variety of methods, including print ads, refer-
rals by local veterinarians, and direct appeals during community blood drives at dog
events sponsored within the community. All families of prospective donors were
provided with information on the donation process and signed informed consent
prior to donation. Donors were required to meet the following specific criteria:

1. Be at least 1 year of age (vet approval required for donors over 8 years of

2. Weigh at least 50 lbs (35 lbs for “half-pint” donors).
3. Possess a good temperament.
4. Be up-to-date on vaccinations.
5. Have no prior history of blood-borne illness.

Prior to donation, the guardian completed a health history form that included
questions on medical history, including vaccinations and overall health, to en-
sure that the donor did not have any medical conditions that might preclude a
safe donation experience. Animals were assessed for voluntariness and coopera-
tiveness prior to donation. Donors were judged to be cooperative if they ap-
peared to be at ease, would willingly stay in place on the table prior to donation,
were cooperative with the holder, and did not require force to restrain during the
donation process. No sedation was used for donation. Guardian participation in
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