Penn Animal Blood Bank is looking for donor dogs as program gets back on track

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A blood bank for dogs is getting back on track after COVID-19 restrictions slowed operations down.

“It majorly impacted us,” said Kym Marryott, a certified veterinary technician at Penn Vet and the manager of the Penn Animal Blood Bank.

“We were really short. We had to defer some patients and we had to order from outside sources who were also short, so it was pressing,” she said.

The blood drives resumed in the late summer and the supply is starting to improve.

She also runs a bloodmobile, where blood can be extracted from dogs in the program at various sites in the region. The majority of their canine cells and products come from the bloodmobile and outside community, she said.

The blood banks program needs specific dogs to become regular donors.

There are about a dozen different dog blood types, but the donor dogs need to be DEA 1.1-negative.

“They will be tested for that. They are the only ones we bring into the program at the moment because it’s kind of like the universal blood that we can just grab,” Marryott explained.

She said there are lots of reasons why dogs need blood, including experiencing blood loss in a surgery or from an accident.

“We go through it pretty quickly. So we are always looking for more donors,” she added.

Among requirements: the dog needs to be 55 pounds or more, between 1 and 7 years old, and has to have a good temperament.

“Because they are not sedated, so they come in and totally volunteer and lay on the table. The owner is there the whole time, which makes a big difference,” she said.

There are about 80 dogs in the program that give blood at least four times a year. The pet’s parents get dog food at each blood drive and free blood work for the dogs each year.

“Which saves them a lot of money at the vet because that includes their general health screening, heartworm tests, things that they are going to pay a couple hundred dollars for when they go to the vet every year,” she added.

There is a feline donor program but it is not open to the general public at this time.

Those interested in having their dog screened as a possible donor can email Marryott at Marryott@vet.upenn.edu.