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Published: Sunday, 11/12/2000

Blood for the animals

Veterinarians are worried about the animal blood supply, which tells us something about how rich we are as a nation. Animal blood shortages are not the problems of hard times.

It also tells us how far some of us have gone in anthropomorphizing our domestic animals. They are no longer pets, but family members, like our children, to whom we have ever-expanding obligations.

When people were poor and a pet grew miserably sick, the kindest act we could perform is to put it out of its misery. Now there's a tendency to go as far as one would for grandma to save a life.

Today, because we are well-heeled, spending loses significance and our dogs and cats, our birds and our ferrets, are getting the same procedures we do, including blood transfusions. These don't come cheap.

Now a market has been developed for canine blood donors. But as with people, not every dog can give. Animal blood products can be dangerous if a donor isn't healthy. Apparently only 5 per cent of dogs meet donor criteria, and vets are worried.

In September the American Red Cross issued its second national appeal for human donors to boost sagging blood supplies.

No offense to Rover or Fluffy, but somehow that call seems more pressing.

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