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Dogs on Call

Veterinary clinic’s team of greyhounds saves pets

There's a handsome pack of greyhounds at MU's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital who help make happy endings. For sick pets, and the families that love them, these blood-donor dogs are lifesavers.A blood transfusion from Elmo is credited with saving the life of Gunner Harrison, an AKC-registered chocolate Labrador who last Thanksgiving ate half a large bag of rat poison in the Harrisons' barn.

Frantic to save their beloved dog, the Harrisons rushed him from Hallsville to the veterinary hospital's Small Animal Clinic, where veterinarians started the lethargic animal on an IV and vitamin K and gave him transfusions with plasma donated by Elmo.

To donate the blood, Elmo lay quietly on a stainless steel lab table for about 15 minutes, soothed by gentle voices, plenty of petting and the anticipation of a dog cookie. Like the rest of the team, he's used to the donation process.

"It doesn't hurt them. We rub ears, talk softly and give belly rubs, if they prefer that," says Professor Leah Cohn, DVM, who manages the hospital's blood bank.

"Gunner's situation was pretty grim. We didn't know if he would make it," says Amy Harrison. But Gunner, who had been bleeding internally, thrilled his veterinarians and family with a full recovery.