SOUTH LOOP — Finn the Greyhound is a lifesaver.
The 3-year-old dog is a veteran blood donor at Metropolitan Veterinary Center in the South Loop, which launched a blood donation program last fall.
“We felt there was a great need for our facility to have a local blood supply for our canine and feline patients,” said June LaFave, a veterinarian and co-owner of the clinic.
Just like humans, dogs and cats need blood transfusions during some surgeries and after traumatic events like car accidents. LaFave said only two other Chicago area veterinary clinics — both emergency centers — have blood donation programs. LaFave said the national blood bank is weeks behind in donations, therefore unreliable.
“It’s good that we’re able to do this in house and we have the immediate supply,” LaFave said.
Since the program started in November, 12 dogs regularly donate, including Finn the Greyhound.
Yumiko Takahashi, Finn’s owner, said Finn wasn’t sure what to expect the first time he donated blood, but when he emerged from the veterinarian’s room with a big smile on his face, she knew he had a good experience.
“He’s doing a good thing, and I hope he knows that,” Takahashi said.
Takahashi said having her dog donate blood is really a win-win. Finn helps other dogs and gets free preventive medicine and blood screening for a year, which otherwise can run pet owners hundreds of dollars.
“We definitely appreciate the time involved in bringing their pet here and letting us use them for our program,” LaFave said. “We want to reward them.”
LaFave said Greyhounds are ideal candidates for the program because the majority are universal blood donors and they’re typically used to being handled by people.
“Before a race, they are typically handled by no less than 10 people,” said Sue Purdom, president of 4 Greyhound Racers, a local rescue group. “They tend to have very calm personalities.”
Purdom often fosters several Greyhounds at a time and makes it a point to get the dogs screened for the blood donation program.
“The dogs love coming here,” Purdom said. “The people here are so amazing and they get veal baby food when they’re done donating.”
“It’s about meeting new people and being treated like a king,” Takahashi said.
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