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DOGGY DONORS: Saving Canine Lives

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Iowans take pride in helping their neighbors  This blood donation program relies on volunteers who have four legs.

“He’s very friendly.  He’s not scared of anything,” says Lisa Powell.

Making friends comes naturally for her good-natured lab, Brutus.

The three-year-old is all talk and tail wagging when he volunteers at Iowa Veterinary Services.

“We all understand that humans need blood and there are certain times of year when the human blood banks are really in need of blood.  The Canine Blood Bank, we're always in need of it,” says program coordinator Stephanie Michaels.

Instead of drawing from the arm, the canine blood comes from a vein in the neck.  For a high energy dog like Brutus, that requires a little sedation.

“We use Iowa dogs to help save other Iowa dogs,” says Michaels.

Once the blood is processed, it's used to treat sick and injured dogs.  As a universal donor in the dog world,.  Brutus is saving up to three lives every time he gives blood.  His last donation went to treat a case of accidental rat poisoning.

“He's going to give us about 500 milliliters of blood,” says Michaels.

About 10 minutes later, it's time to for an IV of fluid to get Brutus feeling better.  That isn't his only reward.  Instead of juice and a cookie, dog donors get a can of dog food and some dry kibble.

“We're always on call if they ever need him to come in, we just bring him in,” says Powell.

There's a growing demand for canine donors.  Seven dogs are in the program at IVS.  Michaels says they can use nearly twice as many.  A simple blood test will determine if your dog has the universal blood type.  Donors must weigh at least 50 pounds, be between the ages of two and eight, pass a series of health tests and have a good temperament.

After a quick rest, Brutus is back to his tail wagging self.

“He enjoys it,” says Powell.

Being a hero to other dogs.