Blood donor registry for dogs and cats to be launched at upcoming Pet Expo

Participants with their dogs at a dog-grooming competition at the Pet Expo on March 20, 2015.
Participants with their dogs at a dog-grooming competition at the Pet Expo on March 20, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A first of its kind blood donor registry for dogs and cats will be launched at the Pet Expo on March 26 by Singapore's largest veterinary chain, Mount Pleasant Veterinary Group.

The programme, which will begin on April 1, will give pet owners a list of donors to draw from when their dog or cat requires a blood transfusion.

Said Dr Sandhya Nair, a veterinarian at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North): "There has been a shortage of blood for a long time. Often it takes time to get blood and this results in pets losing their lives."

While many clinics have an informal pool of donors to draw from, this will be the first official registry for dogs and cats. Under the programme, a list of potential donors will be recorded in a database. Should a dog or cat need blood, the clinic will contact the potential donors' owners to bring their pets to the clinic for pre-donation tests, which are free of charge. As an added incentive, $100 will be credited to the owner's clinic account following each donation.

Among other requirements, donors must be between one and eight years old and weigh above 20kg for dogs, and 5kg for cats. Blood can be donated every two to three months.

Four of Mount Pleasant's nine clinics have blood typing facilities, and will be participating in the programme. They are Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Gelenggang), Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North), Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Clementi) and Mount Pleasant Central Veterinary Clinic (Whitley).

Dr Samantha Fong of the Gelenggang Vet Centre, which performs an average of four transfusions a month, said that they hope to have 20 donors on the registry per participating clinic by the end of the year.

Blood transfusions buy time for medicine to kick in when an animal is critically ill, she said, with the most severe cases requiring a transfusion within 24 hours.

Primary school teacher Emmeline Ong will be signing her four-year-old golden retriever Lance up for the registry, after his blood donation saved the life of her friend's cocker spaniel last September.

"This is something that's urgently needed,"she said.

tiffanyt@sph.com.sg