My name is Annie Blumenfeld, and I am 15 years old. I am the founder and president of Wags 4 Hope, a nonprofit aimed at spreading heartworm disease awareness and supporting shelter dogs’ medical needs, including heartworm disease, until they find their forever homes.
This is something I am so passionate about. My family rescued a big incredible two-year-old shaggy dog, Teddy, from Houston Shaggy Dog Rescue. The owner of the rescue informed us that Teddy had heartworm disease, a long, painful, and expensive malady to treat. It broke my heart to learn that Teddy did not understand why he could not play with any of his other friends. Teddy was near death, having to be inactive in a crate for two months, submitting to many vaccines and X-rays.
I decided I wanted to learn more about this disease, since it is something you don’t really hear about. Heartworm disease is only transmitted by mosquitoes, affecting the lungs, heart, and kidneys of dogs and cats. It can lead to a shorter life span and even death. Preventing it is as simple as giving your pet a preventative once a month. I found that it is present in all 50 states, and 45 percent of dogs in America are vulnerable to heartworm disease, since they are not on preventatives.
Because Teddy is now healthy it gave me hope that many other animals could be saved. I thought it would be a great idea to spread heartworm disease awareness to pet owners across the country and educate them how they can protect their pet.
I also paint dog pictures and give all the money from my paintings to shelters to help pay for the animals’ medical needs until they find their forever homes. I sell them at charity events, and I also do custom paintings of people’s beloved animals. I have always loved painting dogs, and it is amazing that I can combine my two passions into one. Teddy is such an incredible dog, and he made me aware of all the innocent animals suffering from heartworm disease. Together, I hope we can make a difference saving our furry friends.
Join me on my mission by keeping in touch with Wags 4 Hope on Facebook, and follow us on Teddy’s Tales Tumblr for monthly reminders on giving your furry friend their monthly preventative. (This is where Teddy shares his adventures!) You can also email me for a Wags 4 Hope flyer with some more information on heartworm disease at firstname.lastname@example.org, which I distribute to all 50 states and parts of the U.K. You can also make dog-painting requests through email.
Read related stories on Dogster:
Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at email@example.com.