It was a moment of sad serendipity Roger Wiebe will never forget.
The Edmonton man took his beloved beagle in for emergency surgery at the Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital last Saturday, the same day the clinic was hosting a dog blood drive.
Dora was suffering from a deadly infection caused by cysts on her uterus, and had it not been for the coincidence, the procedure to remove the diseased organ would not have been possible.
"It was like her body was attacking itself," Wiebe said during an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.
"The fact that they were having a blood drive the day Dora needed it, and the fact that the people running the drive were willing to donate that bag of blood, it just melted our hearts."
A lifeline in the nick of time
Donated dog blood is normally collected through events across the country, then is tested and shipped to the Canadian Animal Blood Bank central storage facility in Winnipeg. Veterinary clinics rarely have supplies on hand, and there are no regional blood banks. If a transfusion is needed, arrangements usually must be made days in advance.
But in this case, the blood was drawn from one dog and given to Dora within minutes.
"It was pretty crazy," said Mary Robinson, the national laboratory co-ordinator for the Canadian Animal Blood Bank.
"One of our existing donors just happened to be the right blood type, and we were able to collect it and immediately give it to the vet and the techs at Tudor Glen and they transfused it immediately."
"But that's what we're here for. We're here to help."
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Robinson said there is constant demand for new canine blood donors, but most owners don't know their dogs are eligible to give.
In order to donate, dogs must weigh a minimum of 50 pounds, be healthy and up to date on all vaccinations, and have a calm temperament. The procedure is largely painless and takes approximately half an hour.
"We're collecting 30 to 40 units a week, and we're out by the end of the week," Robinson said. "We can never send the full amount that we would like to give to the veterinary practices. We're always, always, needing donors."
'There are not enough ways to say thank you'
For Wiebe and his wife, Kimberly, news that a transfusion was available was a bright spot on a dark day.
They adopted Dora as a puppy 11 years ago, and she had become an integral part of the family.
"She was a little spitfire. And my wife, she was her protector. My wife was in hospital three times for blood infections and a heart attack, and every time Dora was right there, waiting for mom to come home.
"They shared a special bond."
After surgery, Dora was brought home to recover. But the cancer was too much for her fragile body and she died at home a few days later.
Still, Weibe and his wife are grateful for the donation that gave their faithful pet a fighting chance at survival.
"There are not enough ways to say thank you. In the end, it didn't have the desired effect, it didn't keep her around, but the gesture, the generosity, there need to be more people like that."
With files from Elizabeth Hames
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