After a three-year search for a special dog to adopt, in 2012 Annie Blumenfeld of Fairfield, Conn. found Teddy on the Shaggy Dog Rescue web site.
Teddy became Annie’s best friend as soon as the two met. But “it broke my heart to learn that he had endured great pain,” she says. Teddy had suffered through a long, difficult recovery from heartworm disease before he was adopted.
Annie researched the condition and learned that heartworm disease in dogs, caused by parasitic worms, is very serious and can lead to severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and even death. Fortunate for her and Teddy, he was brought back to health with lots of tender loving care from the caregivers at Shaggy Dog.
Since learning about the disease, Annie has worked to raise money and spread the word about the importance of preventing it. She calls her program Wags 4 Hope and leverages her passion for painting by selling dog portraits she paints to raise money for her cause.
To date, she has raised thousands of dollars through paintings sold, donations, and fundraising events. “I donate all of the proceeds from each painting to local shelters in my community and Houston Shaggy Dog Rescue, since they saved my Teddy,” she says.
Through Wags 4 Hope she also gives presentations, participates in educational outreach programs and special events, blogs about the importance of heartworm disease protection, and has even started a club at her high school to get other kids involved.
Annie also made an impact by distributing a heartworm awareness flier she created throughout the U.S., and even the United Kingdom, Australia, and Africa. “It was so incredible to look at all the different areas and how many people I have reached,” she says.
In 2013, the American Heartworm Society honored Annie as a “Heartworm Hero.”
“Dogs make me laugh,” Annie says. “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.”