April is heartworm awareness month — and this month, 1,000 dogs affected by the disease will get their second chance at a healthy life.
Announced April 14, Greater Good Charities is partnering with the maker of Heartgard Plus and The Animal Rescue Site to create the Good Flights program. This program will help bring 1,000 asymptomatic heartworm-positive dogs that are at risk of euthanasia to safety.
According to the American Heartworm Society, Louisana is one of the leading states in heartworm infection rates in the US. This puts heartworm-positive shelter dogs in the state at higher risk of euthanasia due to the cost of treatment, length of care, and space required to house them.
This initiative will fly heartworm-positive dogs from Lousiana to no-kill shelters across the United States. Ideally, they will then be placed into foster or adoptive homes to complete their heartworm treatment—the dogs will receive their initial dose prior to transport.
“Canine heartworm disease is a dangerous and life-threatening illness for infected animals, and Save a Heart, a life-saving initiative of our newly launched Good Flights program, will be a historic game-changer for these at-risk shelter dogs who are battling this disease,” said Liz Baker, CEO of Greater Good Charities. “We are extremely grateful to Boehringer Ingelheim, the maker of HEARTGARD Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel), for making it possible for us to bypass the prohibitive cost of treatment by graciously covering medical costs and providing the necessary product for these dogs in need, and to The Animal Rescue Site for helping fund the transport and providing sheltering and foster supplies. A special thank you to the Banfield Foundation for helping to cover the costs of veterinary care for participating shelter pets of Save a Heart.”
Save a Heart flights and ground transports will occur approximately two to three times a month for one year after the inaugural flight mission, which occurred last week.
Good Flights is staffed with trained animal welfare transport professionals and covers all transportation costs needed to get the dogs to safety. The program also provides mentorship to receiving shelters as well as pet care supplies like crates, bowls, and cash grants.
“With current euthanasia rates of heartworm-positive dogs in partner Louisiana shelters, the alternative to a Save a Heart flight and treatment is life in a stressful, overstimulating shelter environment and, very often, humane euthanasia due to lack of resources,” Julie Ryan-Johnson DVM, the associate director of shelter programs at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, said of why these transports are so important.
At the receiving shelters last week in Morristown, New Jersey and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the first group of dogs was met with the excited faces of volunteers and potential adopters. From here on out, they will only be treated with love and kindness. Hopefully soon, they will all find forever homes where they can live out their lives happy and healthy.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Hannah Seaman