BLACKSBURG, Va. -

Most folks know about blood donor programs for people, but what happens when a pet has a major operation and needs blood?

Inside a small room at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, a pit bull named Layla, is being hoisted on a table. She doesn't know it, but she's giving the gift of life to other pets.

Dr. David Grant is an associate professor of internal medicine at the vet school and runs the pet blood donor program. "Currently we have 17 blood donor dogs in our program," Grant said. "And the vast majority of these are owned by people either who work here at the vet school or our students."

A small patch around the dogs neck is shaved where a needle draws a pint of blood. Staffers say getting into the blood donor program has three basic requirements; the dogs must weigh at least 50 pounds, have a good attitude and be no older than 6.

Most folks have no idea this program exists for dogs and cats. We met Hunter Dorman, a fourth year veterinarian school student, who also owns a dog that donates blood. "People know that humans need it' said Dorman, 'but I guess they don't really assume that dogs and cats need blood transfusions or that it's ever possible in animals."

Over the course of a year, blood will be drawn from these donor dogs as many as five times.

We saw blood drawn from three dogs. The procedure took all of a couple of minutes, and then, there's the payoff; hand fed doggie treats.

The last animal brought in was a horse, disguised as a Great Dane named Ace. It took four people to pick him up and put him on the table. Ace's paws were fatter than my hand and this horse of a dog doesn't know it, but each blood draw, can help as many as three of his buddies.

Standing off to the side, watching his team work, Dr Grant said,"[Dogs] have many different blood types, and so we do blood transfusions and then match their blood types with their donation."

The blood donor dog program has been a wide open secret for 20 years at Virginia Tech, which says for now, it doesn't need any more donor pets.