Greyhounds routinely save other dogs at MU Vet Center
COLUMBIA - The MU Veterinary Health Center has it's own personal blood bank with the help of some special animals.
A small number of greyhounds live at the center and provide most of the blood used for other patients at the hospital.
The dogs are screened for temperament, size and gender. Greyhounds are chosen because they tend to be universal blood donors.
"They're amazing dogs, they lie still, they're very docile. They're big dogs so they have a large volume of blood," said Matt Haight, one of the program directors.
He has been in charge of the blood donor program for about 20 years. He said there are currently about four greyhounds at the center right now, but he usually has about seven or eight so there is enough blood on hand.
"Greyhounds play a very important role in our program here because we, as a referral center, see a lot of patients come in for whatever reason and need a transfusion - for a sudden loss of blood from an injury or an illness," Haight said.
He said the center draws dogs as needed, and is able to keep blood available in the hospital at all times. When the dogs aren't getting blood drawn, they have a lot of free time.
MU students come into the center and volunteer to walk the dogs for about an hour at a time during the day.
"They walk them around campus and socialize them and get the dogs outside for that much needed exercise," Haight said.
MU Veterinary students are the primary care-takers for the dogs and they see to their daily needs.
The dogs stay in the center for about one to three years and then are adopted into caring homes.
Haight said the center makes sure all of the dogs are placed with an owner who will care for them and provide them with a safe living space. He said it's important to him that they find their "forever" homes.
He says the greyhounds are beneficial to the hospital and wants the community to know more about the program.
"I love the greyhounds, I love the program. It's an important part of our hospital and it's an important thing to have available for the community and for patients that we see here at the hospital," Haight said.