‘There was nowhere in Nebraska’: Lack of dog blood sends family out of state for urgent care

10/11 NOW at 5
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s not something we typically think about, a dog needing a blood transfusion. But after going through it and at times hitting roadblocks one Nebraska man wants all pet owners to be prepared for this kind of emergency.

It started when his dog was hit by a car, and when he went to the vet he found out there was no blood for her anywhere in the state.

Millie, a one-year-old razor-edge pit bull had surgery on Monday afternoon. It went well and she’ll be healing up soon, but there were challenges to get to that point.

This past Friday morning, Chris Clements woke up to his wife screaming. His dog Millie, who was obviously injured, was in his living room.

“To have her sitting there,” Clements said. “Just looking up at me, it was just really hard.”

Millie had been hit by a car.

After the panic settled, Clements and his wife took her to the Nebraska Animal Medical Center. There they learned Millie had internal bleeding, but that wasn’t the worst of it.

“There was nowhere in Nebraska, not Lincoln, not Omaha, that had any blood for the transfusion,” Clements said.

By Friday night, the Clements were told the best thing to do would be to drive Millie to the Kansas State Veterinary Hospital, two and a half hours away. Which they did.

“It was just really scary,” Clements said. “And I thought I’m gonna lose my dog because we don’t have any blood here in Nebraska. So that was just helpless and heartbreaking.”

Back here in Lincoln, NAMC Veterinary Technician Shannon Byrne said, they don’t keep animal blood on hand because they don’t do transfusions that often. So when they need blood, they have to draw it themselves at that time.

It is a strict process for dogs to donate blood. Among the requirements, they have to be under seven years old, over 50 pounds, and in good health.

“Then of course the owner has to be willing to either bring them in from whatever various things they may be doing at home,” Byrne said. “Or they have to already be in our clinic for all those things to mesh up perfectly, it’s just a bit of a struggle.”

Add to that, the blood donation process requires vet tech supervision.

“That can sometimes take upwards of three techs, just for the whole thing,” Byrne said.

That can be difficult, Byrne admits, when there are only one to three techs working.

There is something pet owners can do, if your dog meets the requirements to donate you should contact NAMC to get on their donor list.

“Just see what you can do to get on that list in order to possibly save somebody’s dog’s life,” Clements said.