VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — For Kylie Ibarra, there is no dog more special than her best friend, Dozer, a 9-year-old boxer/pitbull mix.
Like many pets and pet owners, they’re inseparable and share a unique bond.
In fact, several times a year, Dozer donates blood at the Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group in Ventura while Ibarra does the same for the Red Cross.
Dozer’s work as a doggie blood donor started seven years ago while Ibarra was working at the Ventura pet hospital. It was there that she learned of a Labrador that desperately needed a blood donor.
“I talked to the internist that kinda oversaw the donation program and said, ‘I’ve got a dog. I would be happy for her to be a donor,'” Ibarra told CBS2’s Lisa Sigell.
After Dozer passed the screenings, she went on to give blood and became a lifesaver. Just one donation from Dozer has the ability to save the lives of four dogs.
All across the country, blood is collected at specialty veterinarian clinics. After a mild sedative, a small spot is shaved where the blood will be drawn. The entire process is done in 10 to 30 minutes.
“Certainly, when dogs are coming in and they’re donating blood, they’re donating something of themselves,” Dr. Nancy E. Scott, a critical care specialist, said. “Blood is a gift of life. It is essential. Across the board, it’s critical and it’s a gift.”
“I’m forever grateful to anyone who does it,” said Charon Shirk, a dog owner. Shirk’s dog, Chai, is alive because of blood donations from dogs like Dozer. Chai is battling leukemia and needs blood often.
“We spend so much time throughout our lives explaining and excusing why we can’t, why we shouldn’t, all of that, instead of just saying, ‘Why not?’ It’s an hour worth of your time and you’re over. You’re done and you have helped somebody,” Ibarra said.
To become a blood donor, a dog needs to be healthy, vaccinated and weigh at least 50 pounds. They also need to have a blood type, known as DEA 1.1 negative, which makes them a universal donor.
The doctors at the Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group tell CBS2 that those interested in having their dog become a donor should check with their local veterinarian to see if there is a need and if their dog qualifies.