Wags 4 Hope Helps Animals in Distress
By Dola Rai Chaudhuri, Contributing Writer
Annie was devastated when she came to know about the terrible disease Teddy is suffering from. For three continuous years, her family was engaged in an extensive search for a pet dog for Annie. Finally, they found this two year old shaggy dog, rescued from a high kill shelter in Houston. Soon after this, following a veterinarian check up, Annie found out that Teddy is suffering from heartworm disease.
What is Heartworm Disease?
This is a potentially fatal disease for dogs caused by parasitic roundworms known as Dirofilaria immitis. Mosquitoes act as carriers for the disease. With dogs being natural hosts, the entire life cycle of this pathogenic worm is completed in a dog’s body. In its adult from, the worm resides in a dog’s heart giving it the name of “heartworm”. Apart from the dogs, it also affects cats and ferrets.
Heartworm affected dogs start showing signs of fatigue only after moderate levels of activity and suffer from occasional coughs. But these symptoms start showing up at quite an advanced stage of the infection. In severe cases vital organs, including lungs and heart, become completely choked by adult worms. However, the disease itself is not contagious, that is, transference never occurs from one dog to another.
How are the Dogs Treated for the Disease?
Once the blood tests reveal that the dog is affected by heartworm infection, it is administered with one of the two available drugs approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both drugs contain arsenic that is considered effective in killing off the adult worms. But treatment with arsenic has its own complications and often problems arise during this phase requiring frequent and sometimes lengthy hospitalizations of the pet.
In advanced stages, when worms start creating severe congestion in vital organs, surgery might prove to be the only way out. But here too the rate of success in terms of complete recovery of the dogs remains abysmally low. The cost of treatment often creates huge financial burden on the owners which sometimes prevent them from seeking proper medical assistance.
As Annie found out through her experience and research about the disease, medical costs run well over USD 2000 in the cases of larger dogs suffering from heartworm disease. Luckily for Annie, timely detection of the disease and her as well as her family’s efforts paid off and Teddy recovered completely.
What is Annie’s Role in this?
Realizing how difficult it is for individual dog owners to spend so heavily in the treatment of their pets, Annie introduced a novel concept to help out those seeking support in aiding dogs in distress. She uses her painting skills to create artworks for everyone to view, appreciate and own. The proceedings, earned through this method, are forwarded to a number of rescue groups caring for dogs suffering from heartworm infection.
Animal welfare nonprofit organization Wags 4 Hope (http://wags4hope.org/), initiated by Annie in 2012 when she was only in her eighth grade, works with dog shelters who take active interest in this matter. Annie not only limits herself to painting and sharing them with fellow animal lovers and collectors, but also involves herself in various other activities to create awareness about the issue. She teaches children about how to care for their pets and, more importantly, how to successfully prevent the occurrence of this deadly disease.
Besides writing about the issue in such online magazines as The Dodo, Annie also organizes regular fundraising events and community programs to support the cause. This grant of USD 100 is going to help her buy more articles like canvases, paintbrushes, pigments and so on for her paintings. With the help of these she will be able to create more artworks and fulfill custom orders in support of the cause. The funds will provide financial assistance to Shaggy Dog Rescue (http://houstonshaggydogrescue.org/), LA Animal Service (http://www.laanimalservices.com/) and Peace and Paws (http://peaceandpaws.org/site/). These organizations are working hard to look after the medical needs of the dogs.
We often speak of dogs being our best friend. Perhaps, it is time for us to pay back the compliment. We can do so by generously supporting (http://startasnowball.com/donate/) the works of Wags 4 Hope, spearheaded by Annie Blumenfeld. Young though she is, yet Annie taught us an important lesson about caring for those whose loyalty we often take for granted. She also proved that age is no bar in initiating projects that supports worthy causes in effective ways.
Moreover, children who find themselves inspired by Annie’s story and have such projects in mind that may help address various social, environmental and other concerns, can seek a grant here (http://startasnowball.com/philanthropic-grant-for-kids/) to help them carry out the programs.
- Keep The Worms Out Of Your Pet’s Heart! [http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/UCM207235.pdf]
- Young Woman’s Art Is Saving Dogs’ Lives [https://www.thedodo.com/community/Wags_4_Hope/wags-4-hope-1039636712.html#sthash.duWqMhGY.dpuf]