Greater Good Charities, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, and The Animal Rescue Site have partnered together for the Save a Heart initiative, an effort to help heartworm-positive shelter pets.

By Kelli Bender
April 21, 2021 06:57 PM
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Credit: Humane Society of Broward County

The hearts of dozens of rescue dogs are on the mend.

According to a release from Greater Good Charities, in honor of Heartworm Awareness Month, the organization partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health — the maker of HEARTGARD Plus — and The Animal Rescue Site to help 1,000 asymptomatic heartworm-positive dogs as part of their Good Flights program.

The program is part of the Greater Good Charities' Save a Heart initiative, "which aims to reduce shelter euthanasia in overcrowded shelters by preventing and treating heartworm disease in shelter dogs."

To help achieve this goal, the Save a Heart initiative is pulling 1,000 heartworm-positive rescue dogs from crowded Louisiana shelters where they are at risk of being euthanized. These canines will be treated for free and transported to Greater Good Charities shelter partners on the East Coast with the resources and foster networks to care for the heartworm-positive dogs and find them forever homes fast.

"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," Liz Baker, CEO of Greater Good Charities, said in a statement about the effort. "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."

Crates on Tarmac in New Orleans
Credit: St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter

The mission to save these heartworm-positive pups kicked off this week when dozens of the dogs, along with other at-risk shelter pets, were transported on three planes to Morristown, New Jersey, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to start their adoption journeys by the Save a Heart initiative. Prior to the flights, all of the heartworm-positive pooches received medication to start treating their health issues.

Puppies Ravenclaw and Gryffindor
Credit: Greater Good Charities

Once they landed, the dogs were greeted by excited shelter workers and volunteers who helped the canines match with forever families and foster parents.

These first flights led to happy faces all around, both human and canine, which is a good sign for the transports to come. Save a Heart transports will continue approximately two to three times a month throughout 2021.

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"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.