Blood drive held for people, their dogs in Robbinsville

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A special blood drive was held in Robbinsville, New Jersey for not just people - but also their four legged friends. (WPVI)

The American Red Cross runs blood drives all the time, but at this one some of the donors have four feet, not two.

NorthStar Vets in Robbinsviille, New Jersey hosted the blood drive for people and their pets.

"We see a lot of patients with trauma - like hit by car trauma, where they have internal bleeding and they need a blood transfusion to help stabilize them," said Dr. Barbara Maton, NorthStar Vets.

Blood like this was a lifesaver for River, the German Shepherd found frozen to the ground this winter in after being lost for a week in the cold.

"River had two transfusions and that's what brought him back to life and basically I felt even then, I'd like to give back. So I decided to bring River's housemate Augie back here and donate blood for someone else," said Dina Alborano, River's owner.

Canine donors are carefully screened. While the dog is gently held, technicians shave a small spot on the neck then insert a needle.

"It takes about 5 or 10 minutes to draw the blood and they gets lots of treats beforehand, which is always a good incentive for most dogs," said Dr. Kimberly Hammer, blood bank supervisor.

"We want them to think, when they come back in here, that this is the place where they get attention, they get cookies - not, 'Oh my gosh, I'm coming here, they're gonna poke me,'" said Michelle Hinks, technician.

Canine blood has a shelf life of about 30 to 35 days, so the need to replenish it on a regular basis is really important.

"For a lot of our patients it's a life and death situation, it's either if you are in a facility where there's no blood or plasma these patients can die," said Alex Munoz, technician.

That's why Munoz brings his mixed breed Tito to donate blood every five or six weeks.

"This is a very unique blood drive for us. This is one of its kind in the Penn-Jersey blood services region that we have," said Beth Toll, American Red Cross.

Tito is part of a pool of about 200 dogs that donate blood here.

Veterinarians urge pet owners to consider if their animals might also give the gift of life to other four footed friends.

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