Fayetteville veterinarian to open state’s first blood bank for pets

Posted: September 4, 2018 at 3:04 p.m.

A Northwest Arkansas veterinarian is working with an emergency clinic for animals to start the state’s first blood bank for pets.

The Arkansas Companion Animal Blood Bank, a joint project between Ozark Veterinary Specialty Care in Fayetteville and the Animal Emergency Clinic of Northwest Arkansas in Springdale, will provide blood to pets who suffer from cancer, trauma or major illness, veterinarian Jarod Williams said.

It functions like a human blood bank, Williams explained; animals in need can receive blood or plasma. Many regions have pet-specific blood banks, he added, and there are national blood banks for animals.

Williams, who owns Ozark Veterinary Specialty Care, said Arkansas was “definitely a little bit behind the times” when it comes to advanced veterinary medicine.

Vets can order blood from national blood banks, but shipping blood and plasma is expensive, and regional blood banks can help pet owners avoid those costs.

The bank will primarily serve dogs and cats in Northwest Arkansas. Since shipping the blood is expensive, it may be more affordable for pet owners from central Arkansas or nearby regions to drive their animals to Northwest Arkansas so that they can receive blood, according to the veterinarian. He said he doesn’t plan to ship the blood to other states because of the cost.

The blood bank is currently in the middle of a donor drive, and Williams expects to be collecting blood by mid-October. Potential feline and canine donors have already been screened, and donors will be examined for fleas, ticks and heartworms at quarterly screenings.

Williams has started companion animal blood banks in many of the places he has worked, including Chicago and Shreveport, La. The veterinarian said he has been planning the project since he moved to the area and opened his clinic two years ago, but the plan really took off in spring 2018.