Published: 14 Jun 2019 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:36:43

They say cats have nine lives, but the real superheroes are the animals who  provide blood donations.

Cats and dogs attending the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) Blood Donor Programme have helped hundreds of animals involved in serious accidents, surgeries or suffering from serious diseases.

"Bertie", a nine-year old golden retriever - "Canine Donor of the Year"

The RVC is celebrating these unsung heroes by awarding ‘Blood Donor of the Year’ awards to two of its regular donors, Bertie and Atticus. These awards recognise the amazing contribution Bertie and Atticus have made in helping  to save countless lives and will be presented to them and their owners on 14th June -  World Blood Donor Day.

Bertie, a nine-year-old golden retriever, has been a vital part of the RVC’s Blood Donor Programme for the last eight years. He has a similar blood type to 60% of dogs in the UK (type DEA 1 Positive), and has kindly donated over 22 units to the RVC’s small animal referral hospital. Blood provided by Bertie and other canine donors has been used for over 600 blood transfusions  each year at the RVC. Bertie is retiring this year and to note his contribution he has been awarded the ‘Canine Donor of the Year’ for his important efforts.

Bertie’s owner, Chris reveals: “I’ve always been a blood donor myself, so I really wanted my dog to help others like I do. I was around when Bertie was born, and he’s always been very calm. I think that helps make him such a good donor.”

Atticus, a four-year- old cat, has also played an important role in the RVC’s Blood Donor Programme since joining in 2016. The nine units of blood supplied by Atticus is blood type A, which is similar to 75% of cats in the UK. The RVC administers over 130 feline blood transfusions per year. In recognition, Atticus will be supplied with a ‘Feline Donor of the Year’ award.

Atticus’ owner, Olivia commented: “My first involvement with animal blood donations was through my work with Peaceful Pets – a charity for retired greyhounds. I got to know the RVC hospital team and then I brought Atticus along to donate after they explained how important feline blood donations are to their work. He becomes extra affectionate after each donation – I love it!”

"Atticus", a four-year old cat - "Feline Donor of the Year"

On this global awareness day, the RVC, which currently runs Europe’s busiest animal hospital blood donor programme, also thanks the hundreds of other animals who have provided blood that has saved  lives. They also encourage more cat and dog donors to come forward.

The RVC created its programme in 2005 in response to high levels of demand for dog and cat blood. This demand, which continually increases year on year, is particularly important given the variety and complexities of the treatments offered at the RVC. For example,  treatments range from open-heart surgery to emergency and critical care, and from spinal surgery to cancer treatment.

Dominic Barfield, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care at the RVC, said: “Blood saves lives, literally. We are indebted to the kindness and generosity of those wonder dogs and super cats and the fabulous people that look after them, as their gift of a blood donation means that other pets can live. We cannot thank them enough and our RVC blood donor team who make it all possible.”

The RVC would also like to thank the generosity of its supporters, who contribute towards the operational costs of the Blood Donor Programme. For example, Burns Pet Food, whose Founder, John Burns, said: “As a Veterinary Surgeon and advocate of animal welfare, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to be able to support a cause as worthy as the RVC blood transfusion service. I hope our donation will help many animals in need and this contribution will be the start of a great relationship.”

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
  • The RVC is ranked as the world’s number one veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings 2019.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • The RVC was the first veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC, and currently holds full accreditation from RCVS, AVBC and AVMA and conditional from EAEVE.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, the RVC maintained its position as the top veterinary institution in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), with 79% of its submission being rated as world-class or internationally excellent.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals: the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital, in central London, and the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre) and Equine Referral Hospital, both located at the Hertfordshire campus.

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