Main Line Animal Rescue, a subsidiary of the PSPCA, has launched an initiative with Bissell Pet Foundation for a partnership that will save the lives of 100 dogs living with heartworm – something frankly never done due to the cost. and processing time.
Heartworm is completely manageable and curable, and this partnership is here to prove it.
“One of the difficulties we have in animal shelters is that the heartworm is endemic in the south,” says Nichola Redmond, site manager for Main Line Animal Rescue. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Redmond knows the efforts shelters must go through to save dogs with heartworms who could normally live long and healthy lives if they only had access to the medications they have. need.
“It is an obstacle for them to find a way out live in the environment of the shelter because the doctors do not want to take care of it and it is a fatal disease if it is not treated. Organizations that transfer animals from the south don’t want to take them over because of the length and expense. Doctors are therefore reluctant, ”she explains.
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites and then transmitted from dog to dog, unless the dog is on preventive treatment, which is equivalent to one tablet per month. It is something that seems so simple, but many dogs are homeless, or owners are not too familiar with this knowledge if they live in colder areas where the heartworm is less active. In the south where this is quite common, some legal shelters do not have the same resources, so it can be difficult to access what they need to save these puppies.
“With heartworm, dogs can suffer a lot of damage to their lungs, hearts and associated vessels,” says Dr Alicia Royer, who works for Main Line Animal Rescue and began diving a few weeks ago. head first in this new program. fully admit that I was a little intimidated at first just because it’s not very common in the area. [But I’ve been] realizing it’s very treatable and very manageable and we do everything we can to make sure they stay safe during the process, so it’s quick and painless for them. But it was really interesting, honestly. It has been a learning process and has also opened our eyes to how preventable and curable it is.
Royer explains that the damage is caused by tiny microfilariae that are picked up by a mosquito and transmitted to a dog’s heart, where they mature. They grow into these big adults and that’s what causes the damage. So Main Line and Bissell want to tackle the problem head-on to kill and weaken the disease early on.
Although it is treatable, it is expensive and a long process, but not complicated. But that’s where this partnership comes in handy.
“It’s not a simple disease, but it’s not difficult to treat,” says Redmond. “Yes, there can be complications, but often there aren’t. Most of the time, they do very well. Because we use a well-defined American Heartworm Society (AHS) protocol, there is very little we need to think about in order to know how to deal with this. It’s already planned.
The company wanted to take dogs from areas riddled with heartworms (Louisiana and Mississippi are among the states with the highest numbers) and bring them to the Main Line. With AHS, Kathy Bissell of the Bissell Pet Foundation and Main Line were able to figure out how to do it safely without spreading disease with the help of the Society. They have also partnered with shelters in the south with few resources to help stray animals.
Over the past 10 years, very successful shelter transport programs have been developed across the country. The goal of these programs is to help move adoptable dogs out of overcrowded shelters in the south, where they risk euthanasia, and to shelters in the north and mid-Atlantic where they have a better chance of finding a new home. While these transportation programs help save tens of thousands of southern dogs every year, highly adoptable heartworm positive dogs are often left behind.
“I can’t tell you how good it makes you. I know what it’s like to be on that side of the equation when I reach out to the transportation coordinators at our partner shelters and say hello to them, I’m looking to bring in dogs with heartworms … they can hardly believe it because no one is saying it. So they’re thrilled and that means these dogs are going to go on and live happy lives, and that’s wonderful, ”says Redmond.
Through their network of partnerships, MLAR staff and volunteers will save 100 dogs diagnosed with heartworm who would otherwise not have access to care. According to the statement, when the animals arrive at MLAR, they will be examined by the veterinarian and then placed in a two-week quarantine in case they have other contagious diseases. Once the dogs are healthy (aside from their heartworm, of course) they will move to a foster home for the duration of their 4 month treatment cycle or to the main kennel until they are ‘a foster home can be found.
After first aid, it is extremely important that these puppies can remain calm. This is where Philadelphians can get involved in placement or adoption. The mayor of Narbeth has already adopted one of the dogs for treatment, and others are looking for their forever homes.
“It’s a second chance for these guys. They will live, long and in good health, ”explains Royer. “We’re going to take care of them for those four months and we’re going to find them adoptive homes and you could never have known they have heartworm, and that’s really the point. To give them that second chance and not let this disease limit their lives. “
If you can’t welcome or adopt, donating is also a great way to ensure these dogs have a long, healthy life.
“I would like people to consider: if they have a heart for dogs who are homeless and who are at risk of dying because people have let them down – and that’s basically what it is about – consider making a donation to help this program continue. This is what we need to do to maintain this. We need to have the funding for the future because it’s not cheap to deal with that, and we have a grant through Bissell, but they need matching funds for the grants for the 100 dogs. Anyone who cares about dogs, just meet some or see them and you will be won over.
For more information on Main Line Animal Rescue and their partnership with Bissell Animal Foundation, visit mlar.org and bissellpetfoundation.org