We have been very lucky this year in regards to the amount of heartworm positive dogs we've taken in. Last year, we took in 9 heartworm positive dogs in the month of January alone. Heartworms are very common here in the south and a large number of shelters do not heartworm test prior to adoption or rescue. When we take dogs from those shelters, we always run the risk of taking in a heartworm positive dog without knowing it, which was the case with Ace.
Sadly stories like Ace's are all too common here. His previous "owners" wanted Ace for more of a lawn ornament than a family pet. He spent his days living alone in a type of solitary confinement, attached to his chain while he watched people living their lives around him. As if being lonely and covered in parasites wasn't enough, Ace also had no shelter. When it rained, he was soaked and had no way to stay dry. For those who think dogs like being outside in this type of weather, think again. Most of our rescue dogs don't even want to go outside when it's sprinkling outside. Ace spent the cold winter months curled up in a ball while he tried to keep warm, trembling in the cold dirt where he was forced to sleep. One day a couple of months ago, his luck changed when his "owners" were cited for neglect by animal control. Ace was ultimately seized and taken to his local animal shelter.
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Ace, formerly known as Roscoe in his shelter photo.
Although shelters are a loud, scary and strange places to dogs, at least Ace had a roof over his head for the first time with meals he could depend on. Each day he watched people come and go, picking out new dogs but sadly his day never came. We received a plea from Ace's shelter and posted him to our Facebook page to network, as we do for all the urgent dogs that are sent to us. A week or so went by and he was still at the shelter, so he was re-shared on our page and once again, no one came to his rescue. At the very last minute, we stepped up for Ace and without a doubt, saved his life. I am confident I can speak for all of us at TDRD when I say that we are very glad we did!
On our way back from picking him up, a delighted Ace rolled around on his back in the backseat of my car. Let me tell you that he knew something big was happening and he felt like a pretty big deal:) We have had the pleasure of watching his personality slowly come out over the last few days and it's impossible not to absolutely love him. Ace loves to sit down in the sun on his nature walks, smell the breeze and listen to the birds on our property. He is a calm dog and he loves prancing around with his new bone and showing it off to everyone who visits. Ace is an incredibly grateful dog who never has a bad day, loves to sit looking out the window during car rides and is a total pleasure to be around.
I've heard more times than I can count that people are sure their dog doesn't have heartworms because "he/she doesn't look sick". The reality is that no heartworm positive dog appears sick from heartworms until they have a very advanced case and this takes years. What people usually notice is breathing issues from the worms spreading to their dog's lungs. Ace looks and acts like a perfectly healthy dog so when we took him in for an exam, vaccinations, fecal exam and heartworm test yesterday, we were very saddened to learn he is heartworm positive. Ace will have to wait at least two months now before he will be ready to meet his new family and this treatment is of course very expensive. It is however necessary so that Ace can go to his home a healthy, heartworm free dog.
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Ace checking out the sights on one of his nature walks
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Ace being examined by Dr. Vaughn at Columbia Hospital for Animals.
For those who do not currently have your dogs on heartworm prevention, please get them started on it immediately. This costs around $10/month and will ensure that your dog never gets heartworms. As I tell all of our adopters, it is not a matter of IF your dog will get heartworms if not on regular prevention, it's a matter of WHEN. There are a few different preventatives on the market and speaking with a vet will help you determine which one is right for you.
As for Ace, he has been started on a month of antibiotics and cage rest to help his body to prepare for treatment. This medication will help kill the juvenile heartworms and weaken the adults so that he will be much less likely to have an adverse reaction during and after his treatment. Once his treatment is completed in a month, he will remain on cage rest for another month while his body heals. After that time, Ace will be able to go to his new home and we hope to have a family approved to adopt him when that day comes.
We are currently working to raise funds for Ace's treatment and any contributions are very much appreciated. We cannot continue to help dogs like Ace without the support of our fans! Here is the link to his FundRaZr for those who would like to donate: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/3itE7/ab/5Yv4e
. All donations to our rescue are tax-deductible!