BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – A little over a year ago, animal activist Jason Cooke began a partnership to help furry friends in the area.
Teaming up with Countryside Veterinary Service, Angels for Animals and Friends of Fido, Cooke started a new nonprofit called the “Healthy Hearts and Paws Project.”
“We work with pounds and shelters that have heartworm dogs that aren’t able to receive treatment at the shelter,” he said.
Through these partnerships, Cooke is able to foster, treat and find homes for heartworm-positive dogs or dogs in need of special medical care.
These are the dogs that are unlikely to be treated in traditional shelters.
“Oftentimes, they are euthanized and our thing was, let’s work together and help these dogs,” Cooke said.
Molly is heartworm-positive and had broken bones after being hit by a car.
“Currently she is recovering from injuries to her pelvis. Then, once that’s completed, she will begin treatment for heartworm,” Cooke said.
Treating heartworm requires multiple injections and a 30-day crate-rest period to ensure the dog’s activity is limited. That treatment comes with a high price tag.
“Heartworm treatment is very expensive. It can go as low as $500 to over $1,000. It really depends on the severity of the infection,” Cooke said.
Heartworm is a parasite spread by a simple bite from an infected mosquito.
Once a dog contracts heartworm, it takes around six months for the parasite to spread to the heart and lungs, eventually killing the animal if untreated.
Cooke is advocating for better awareness of preventative treatment.
“There are so many people out there who don’t understand how heartworm is transmitted. It’s via mosquitoes. They’re under the mistaken belief that they don’t have to have their dog on preventative year-round. Oftentimes, they think that if they have their dogs de-wormed, that it’s protecting the dog. That’s not true.”
Since August of 2018, Cooke has fostered and treated 85 dogs, 41 of which came from Mahoning County.
He is currently caring for 28 dogs, seven of which have completed treatments, are heartworm-free and are waiting to find a forever home.
Click here to see available dogs.
If you’d like to help with the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project, there is an upcoming opportunity to do so.
Partner organization Friends of Fido is hosting a fundraiser at the Lake Club on Thursday called Heroes Helping Hounds. The event starts at 6 p.m. and includes a dinner and basket raffles.
For more information on the event, click here.