Page last updated at 04:11 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 05:11 UK

India launches first 'canine blood bank'

By Sivaramakrishnan Parameswaran
BBC Tamil

India dog with owner
Success of the scheme depends on dog owners donating their pets' blood

A blood bank exclusively for dogs has been launched for the first time in India, academics at a university in the city of Madras (Chennai) say.

The blood bank has been set up so that middle class dog owners can get treatment for their pets in the event of a road accident.

Such incidents have spiralled in number across India because of increasing urbanisation and more traffic.

The success of the scheme depends on dog owners donating their pets' blood.

"This is the first blood bank of its kind in the country," Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Vice Chancellor P Thangaraju told the BBC.

He said that many dogs lose their lives because blood bank facilities do not exist in the country.

'Frequently injured'

"Dogs get frequently injured - not only while crossing roads but also in and around the many multi-story apartments that exist across the country," he said.

Dr Thangaraju said that the lack of availability of blood has become a major cause of death among dogs, especially when the animals require surgery.

He said that appeals for volunteers to come forward and donate blood from their dogs had been "encouraging", although he expected it would take some time before a satisfactory reserve had been built up.

Although there are no plans at present to make the blood bank commercially viable, the university has plans to do so in future - depending upon the availability of blood which Dr Thangaraju said would be sold "for a small fee".

Dog giving blood donation in India
It's hoped there will be no shortage of donations

He said that the collection and storing of canine blood was the same as the process used to collect human blood and that stringent measures would be taken to ensure that donated blood is free from infection.

Dogs aged between one to eight - with body weight of around 20kg - are considered eligible for blood donations, Dr Thangaraju said.

A maximum of 300 millilitres per dog can be donated at any one time and a healthy dog can donate between four and six times a year.

Figures produced by the university show that about 100,000 pets - the overwhelming majority of which are dogs - are treated by veterinary hospitals every year in India.

Experts say that the blood donations will only involve a tiny percentage of India's canine population - figures released by dog protection groups say that the country's eight million stray dog population is unlikely ever to benefit.

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