Laid-back hero dog saves a life as a blood donor

When a dog came to Best Friends Animal Clinic in critical condition after ingesting poison, the call went out for a blood donor and Peter was just the guy for the job.
By Sarah Thornton

Editor’s note: We know the world is a scary place right now. If you’re looking for information on pets and coronavirus, you can find that here. If you’re looking for a break from news about COVID-19, we hope this story brightens your day!

On a day like any other, handsome spotty Peter was relaxing in his run at Dogtown when a call came over the radio. There was an emergency, a dog in need of a blood transfusion to save her life and a Best Friends Animal Sanctuary veterinary staff in need of a donor. When caregivers loaded him up, Peter was just excited to go on a car ride, one of his favorite things and didn’t know he was about to become a hero.

Hero blood donor dog

Peter is a big, healthy young dog who loves spending time with people and is comfortable with all sorts of handling. So, when the call went out for a blood donor, he was an obvious choice.

A dog named Sasha had been rushed to the Best Friends Animal Clinic after her family discovered that she’d ingested poison. The young, otherwise healthy, athletic dog was fighting for her life. Her situation was urgent ― an immediate emergency that needed prompt attention. And obviously, there wasn’t time to get to the public veterinarian in town and find an available blood donor.

While blood transfusions at the Sanctuary are rare and only needed in specific emergencies, the clinic keeps an updated list of go-to animals, just in case. For dogs, the donor needs to be between two and seven years old, weigh more than 50 pounds, not have any known medical issues and, of course, be comfortable with clinical procedures.

There are 13 different blood types in dogs and finding a specific blood type requires outside lab work, which is not an option in an emergency. Instead, a quick test is done on-site to check the compatibility between donor and recipient.

Peter met all the requirements. He sat patiently as his blood was drawn for the test and then for the donation. To him, it was an extra trip to the clinic with his favorite people. He got lots of treats and was soon back in Dogtown curling up for a nap. Meanwhile, veterinarians started the blood transfusion for Sasha and monitored her closely.

Peter the dog lying on a blanket next to a few toys

The dog behind the hero cape

Like many heroes, Peter leads an unassuming daily life. He’s a country boy through and through who enjoys the relative quiet of the canyon and spending time with his favorite people. “Everyone who meets him falls in love with him,” says caregiver Zach Mills.

Not only is Peter friendly, he’s smart, too. He loves a good treat and effortlessly figures out how to get one. He even has an office job. Once a week on a schedule we’re sure everyone envies, Peter goes to “supervise” one of the accounting offices. It’s a big job getting so much attention and making sure the snack inventory is in order, but it’s his favorite day of the week. His co-workers don’t even mind when he naps on the job.

Peter the dog laying on the floor

Sasha survives and goes home

While Peter’s favorite things include naps, treats and golf cart rides, Sasha loves to run. And thanks to quick work by Best Friends veterinarians to save her, along with Peter’s blood donation, Sasha made a full recovery. It wasn’t long before she was able to go home, and in no time she was back to running like the wind.

Sasha, the dog saved with the blood transfusion, running outside in the snow next to a man

More about Dogtown at Best Friends

Photos by Molly Wald, Madeline V. Salada and Kelly Cunningham