NJ blood bank needs donor dogs to save lives of local pets

MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "I see it all the time, dogs needing blood and trying to find it if we don't have it," said Deb Consiglio.

Consiglio is a certified veterinary technician and veterinary technician specialist in emergency critical care at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. But she has another cherished role: being the owner of her brave dog, Lagatha.

A 3-year-old Newfoundland mix, Lagatha is no stranger to hopping up on a gurney to help her fellow furry friends.

"We call her the resident blood donor because she's here probably the most out of anybody," said Consiglio. "She has donated at least six times in the past year, so about 12 dog friends of hers that she saved."

While the need for blood is constant, staff at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital says the supply struggles to meet the demand. This has become especially difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, when pet adoptions surged.

"We're seeing so many pets, and we're working so hard to service them," said Critical Care Specialist Cassie Janson. "And because of that, all the blood banks across the country are behind or short on blood, you know, we just can't keep up with that demand."

That's why Consiglio started the Mount Laurel Animal Blood Bank last year. They will be hosting their 2nd blood drive event this Saturday, October 9, from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Although formal slots have been filled for screenings, staff says they encourage any and all visitors and will not turn anyone away.

"We will definitely talk to them, it shouldn't take long," said Consiglio. "It's more of a screening process, 20 minutes or so, and then the donation itself won't happen until we get all the blood work back."

Consiglio says she has roughly 15 reliable donors to call on whenever blood runs low. But she is looking to add more local pets to the list. Eligible dogs must be between 2 and 6 years old and weigh a minimum of 50-55 pounds. Apart from the regular heartworm or flea and tick prevention, they must not be on medication. Interested pet owners can call the hospital or fill out a digital form to learn if a dog qualifies.

"If you have a very cooperative dog that wouldn't mind donating, your dog can actually save someone else's pet," said Consiglio.

To learn more about Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, visit their website.

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