Buddy loves to chase cars. That's why you have erected an impenetrable fence — so he can only dream of catching up with, and chewing, the tires of the neighbor's Miata with great gusto. One day, though, one of your kids fails to latch the gate, and Buddy's off like he was shot out of a cannon, racing into the street in search of a big round chew toy. You hear the dreaded screech of tires and the ugly thud. Buddy is seriously injured. You manage to get him into the car and make a bee-line to the emergency pet clinic. The vet tells you Buddy has lost a lot of blood. Luckily for you and Buddy though, suitable canine blood is available, so he is transfused and ready to go home in a few days to continue his backyard fantasies

If you're a pet owner, a car versus dog incident may very well be what you fear the most. Broken bones can heal but heavy blood loss puts your injured pooch in a precarious position. Surgery on dogs is becoming more common, too, and, like people, dogs may need to be transfused during the operation. And if your dog becomes very ill and you discover in time that she has ingested rat bait, specifically warfarin, which can cause a fatal hemorrhage, her life may be saved with transfused blood.

These are some of the reasons that, over the last decade, canine blood banks have been established in the U.S. and Canada, Australia, the U.K. and other European countries. Up until this time, each vet was responsible for maintaining his/her own pet blood supply, which sometimes came from a dog adopted by the clinic or the dogs of family or friends In many areas, this arrangement still exists. However, canine blood banks are becoming increasingly available to veterinary practices.

A canine blood bank works in much the same way as a human blood bank: The potential donor undergoes a physical exam; verification of vaccinations and heart worm testing; blood tests to check for anemia, clotting ability, and any endocrine system abnormalities such as liver or kidney disease; hereditary blood diseases; and blood typing. (Fortunately, more than half the dog population is considered a universal donor.) In addition, some canine blood banks have age, weight, and personality criteria for donor dogs,

Like human blood donations, a typical donation is roughly a pint. The pet's blood is then separated into plasma and red blood cells Plasma can be frozen and stored for some time, while the red cells are refrigerated and used within about six weeks or destroyed. Dogs can donate every three months without endangering their own health.