My wife, Kayci, found Mama running scared along a busy street. She saw that she was pregnant and tried to get her to come over but all of her attempts to draw the pup nearer only resulted in her running farther away. By the time I came home Kayci was army crawling halfway under a truck while wearing a dress and I was forced to acknowledge that, yes, this was the woman I had decided to marry. I ran to the house and grabbed a towel and after a while we were able to get Mama out and wrapped up. We took her inside to see if she was okay. Other than being swollen with pups and understandably shaken, she seemed okay. We took her to the vet to see if she was microchipped since she wasn't wearing a collar but, of course, she wasn't. The vet also told us that we wouldn't be able to surrender her to the SPCA because they don't take pregnant animals, and that if she had the pups in a shelter environment, the likelihood of them getting sick and dying was high. One of the vet techs mentioned the possibility of the two of us fostering her and we agreed that it was something we might be interested in, despite the fact that we already had four small dogs of our own. After getting all of the necessary information regarding the county animal control office's fostering program, we took Mama back to our home and gave her a comfy spot and some fresh high protein puppy food, a delicacy.
We started with a litter of eight. One pup didn't make it through birth and another, a little runt, passed a day later despite our attempts at bottle feeding and administration of subcutaneous fluids. We buried the runts under a stone in the backyard and read the Rainbow Bridge poem for them. Kayci was pretty upset by the passing of the two smallest pups but I reminded her that if she hadn't found Mama, none of them would have made it.
Fast forward a few days. Kayci and I are at the animal control office trying to get everything sorted out with the foster program. I'm holding a box filled with the pups since a worker had taken Mama away to be processed. When she gets back I get the bad news: Mama is heartworm positive. For those who don't know, heartworms are deadly. They clog the chambers of the dog's heart and cause congestive heart failure. This news was heartbreaking in and of itself but what the shelter worker told me next was just as terrible. She told me that treatment for heartworm disease was expensive, and that the shelter didn't have the resources necessary to provide treatment. Since Mama had what would be a terminal illness if left untreated, the shelter couldn't list her as a foster animal; she was unadoptable.
How You Can Help
While heartworm disease can be fatal, it doesn't have to be. Many dogs are treated, even in late stages, and go on to lead happy healthy lives. The real issue is cost. There is only one medication used to treat adult heartworm disease in dogs. This, along with the lengthy period of time that the dog has to receive treatment (it can go on for months to a year) drive the cost of treating heartworm disease into the thousands. However, it's our hope that your donations and support will help us raise the money necessary to get Mama heartworm free and adopted by someone that loves her as much as we do. Not everybody can foster strays and dedicate part of their home to puppy care, but anyone can donate even the smallest amount towards our success.
Thank you, from us, from Mama, and from her pups.
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