06/24/2014 05:35 EDT | Updated 08/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Dog blood donors wanted in Squamish

A Squamish veterinarian is on the hunt for doggie blood donors with the universal blood type, to help save the lives of his canine patients.

"It is a growing need," said Dr. Tom Honey, owner of Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital in Squamish, in an interview with Rick Cluff on The Early Edition. "It's really nice if we can have donors on hand who can provide for us when the need arises."

Honey says donors are needed to help other dogs with anemia, complications from surgery, or traumatic injuries such as a car accident.

In many cases it can make the difference between life and death.

"Jake is a pet of one of my staff members who was suffering from Parvo[virus] as a puppy," said Honey. "[He] received a blood transfusion and it was absolutely life-saving."

Lexa is clinic's first doggie donor

Like humans, dogs have different blood types, including a universal donor type — and that's what the clinic needs.

The Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital has already found one such "volunteer": Lexa, a black bull mastiff cross who weighs 50 kg. 

Requirements for a doggie donor include:

- Large breed (at least 25 kg)

- Healthy (no diseases)

- Lives close to Squamish and readily available

- Friendly

- Matches the universal dog blood type (DEA 1.1 negative 1.2 negative 4 positive 7 negative)

Donor dogs will be asked to give blood when a major surgery is planned, or in an emergency.

"Sometimes we will use a slight sedative, but Lexa is a cooperative dog, and that's part of what we're searching for," said Honey. "Dogs that are friendly and cooperative and won't mind a collection needle placed in their jugular vein."

He says after the procedure, donor dogs get a bandana and a cookie.

Honey is encouraging people get their dogs tested to see if they're the donor he's searching for.

To find out if your pooch is eligible, call the Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital at 604-898-9089.