My Story

This was Duncan, a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, my first loving companion who sadly passed away of cancer a couple of years ago.

This was Duncan, a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, my first loving companion who sadly passed away of cancer a couple of years ago.

Thank you for taking an interest in my cause!

I am Annie Blumenfeld the Founder and President of Wags 4 Hope. I founded Wags 4 Hope on March 31, 2012. I am currently 17 years old and a senior in high school. I live in Connecticut. Growing up, I always had a passion for animals, art, and helping others. Now I get to combine all of them into one!

How It Began:

My family began searching for three years through countless pet stores, rescue shelters, newspapers, and private dog breeders for a loving and loyal friend. Our search happily ended when my family was searching the Internet and stumbled upon a a two-year-old shaggy dog that had been rescued from a high-kill shelter in Houston, Texas.

Teddy was rescued by Houston Shaggy Dog Rescue. At his veterinarian check up it soon was discovered that he tested positive for heartworm disease through an antigen test. This blood test detects specific proteins, called antigens, which are released by adult female heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream. Teddy had to be given two injections of arsenic and remain in a crate. He had to be inactive and carefully monitored for a couple of months. The treatment for heartworm disease is very expensive and difficult for dogs to recover from. It can also be potentially toxic to the dog’s body and can cause serious complications, such as life-threatening blood clots to the dog’s lungs. Treatment is very expensive because it requires multiple visits to the veterinarian, with the process of blood work, and X-rays. The cost ranges from $600 for a small dog to $2,000 for a larger dog. It broke my heart to learn that my dog had endured great pain. I researched further, and learned that heartworm disease is extremely serious and can result in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and even death. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, from mosquitoes. These worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito and produce offspring, while living inside the dog. The worms are called “heartworms” because they live in the heart, lungs, and other blood vessels of an infected animal. In the United States, heartworm disease is most common in the south because of the extreme heat in which the mosquitoes thrive in, but they are present and highly populated in all fifty states. Heartworm disease is also present throughout Europe, Australia, Canada, and Africa. Heartworm disease cannot be spread from one dog to another it is only spread by the bite of a mosquito.

Since, heartworm disease treatment is expensive, and there is a chance that your pet may not survive the treatment, preventatives are a great solution. There are many safe FDA approved products that can be used. All of these products require a veterinarian’s prescription. These preventatives are used monthly and are simple. There is a vast range of different products from liquids to tablets. The use of preventatives depend on your location and your dog.  Please talk to your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pet.

Having learned devastating effects of heartworm disease from my loving companion, I seek to educate pet owners across the country about heartworm disease. I cannot imagine my life without Teddy, and I am so thankful he made a complete recovery. I know I can make a difference and help save all the other innocent dogs that are at high risk. It is here, where I combine my love of painting with my passion for animals. All the money raised through my artwork is given to several animal rescue shelters to help pay for the animals’ medical supplies until they find their forever homes. I also strive to encourage pet responsibility.

I recently wrote about my story for The Dodo. This describes every single aspect of how Wags 4 Hope came to be. Check it out if you would like to learn more! (the link is below) Please also feel free to visit the “Spreading Awareness” tab where there are more stories about my cause. Wags 4 Hope has been covered by Good Morning America, Dog Fancy, and Cesar’s Way among others. Again, thanks for stopping by! Many warm wags!