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Blood Donation: Do You Know a Blood Donor Dog?
  • By Jo Soo-bin, editor-in-chief
  • 승인 2021.09.13 08:57
  • 호수 294
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▲ The site of a blood donor dog trapped in it (Source: Official website for animal protection group, ‘care’)

Woody, a greyhound breed in Melton-Mobray, Leicestershire, has retired from his blood donation dog duties on August 28, according to the BBC. Woody, 9 years of age, started giving his first blood donations at the age of three and helped save 88 precious lives, by donating his valuable blood 22 times over the past six years. The British Pet Blood Bank praised Woody as a superstar, saying that donating 450ml of blood can help four dogs.

Woody retired because blood donation for dogs is only possible from the age of one to eight. At Woody's last blood collection site, Wendy Gray, the owner of Woody, said, "Every time Woody goes to donate blood, he whines and runs to every person he meets. Then, when he lies on the table, he stays still until the blood collection is complete. After it's over, he's excited again. Sometimes, he takes a walk for four to eight hours after donating blood without getting sick," she said, adding that Woody loves donating blood from the perspective of the owner, who has the strongest bond with Woody. Gray was proud of her dog, Woody, saying, "A long time after I started living with my dog, I found out dogs need blood donations too. You never know when your dog will need blood. You should know that you can help your family and save lives in these difficult times. It's a great thing."

Currently, the percentage of donor dogs that live to donate blood is overwhelmingly higher than pet dogs donating blood in Korea. The problem lies here: more than 90 percent of the blood of a donor dog is distributed exclusively in large quantities by the Korea Animal Blood Bank, which is part of the private sector. According to the 2015 complaint against the Korea Animal Blood Bank, which was made by the animal protection group, "Care," and various media outlets, the Korea Animal Blood Bank, which has more than 300 animals, is donating blood at least three times a month. More than 300 donor dogs live in narrow pens, where they cannot even stand properly, they receive food waste from nearby military units instead of feed, and their water bottles are not managed, making them look exhausted. Also, dogs exhausted by excessive blood donations were being managed in an unethical manner, as they were being soldfor dog meat.

In non-profit institutions, donor dogs are managed in foreign countries, and regulations are also in place to prevent them from donating blood more than once a month. In addition, dogs that are 6-12 months old are managed in a system that will send them for adoption, instead of becoming a blood donor. A pet dog blood donation center is operated on a regular basis, making it easy to donate blood. In October 2019, the Korea Blood Donation Dog Association was established in Korea to encourage blood donation of pet dogs. In October 2019, Hyundai Motor also began to help dogs donate blood through a campaign called, "I'm dog," (a compound word of uniting the dog and donor). Hyundai Motor is supporting its Solati to convert it for a dog's blood donation clinic, so that dogs can donate blood all over the country.

Despite all these efforts, awareness and interest in blood donor dogs remain low in Korea. For now, only a lot of attention from pet owners seems to be able to solve the current problem related to donor dogs living in poor conditions. Park Han-byeol, CEO of 24 Onnuri Animal Medical Center in Ansan, said, "Red blood cells will be regenerated immediately after collecting blood. Donating blood every six months to once a year does not strain the dog's body at all."

It is known that a single blood donation of a large dog can save four small dogs, and an occasional blood collection can stimulate the production of red blood cells to produce more blood, which is also helpful for the dogs' health. It is hoped that many dog owners will be interested in practicing blood donation, to create a healthy world where blood donor dogs can live a better life, while saving many dogs' lives in the process.

By Jo Soo-bin, editor-in-chief  hyun185415@naver.com

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