Heartworm Heroes -Next Chapter

Heartworm Heroes is a progressive and innovative program administered by Shelter Friends for dogs which have been identified as candidates under the charge and control of the Josephine County Animal Shelter.

In the past when a dog tested positive for heartworm disease, they were euthanized because of the many challenges treatment in a shelter setting entailed.  The primary being cost to treat, limited kennel space and the need for zero stress to the animal during the 120+ days of treatment.

If a shelter facility does not test for heartworm, they could potentially adopt a medically infirm dog; If they test for heartworm, the animal may be euthanized.  It is always disheartening to euthanize a perfectly, adoptable dog but for the heartworm disease.

In the beginning of 2016, a pilot program was launched with the intake of a young pit bull mix, Maverick Macphail. Maverick was an emaciated and vulnerable youngster, a poster-child of animal neglect. His story can be found here:  Heartworm Heroes Part I

Maverick MacPhail

Maverick had a forgiving heart and on every level would be a wonderful family member. A joint decision between Shelter Friends and the Josephine County Animal Shelter identified Maverick Macphail as the candidate to launch Heartworm Heroes. An approved foster family ready to invest 120 days of continued care was secured, and Heartworm Heroes was born on February 27, 2016.

As Maverick was approaching the final weeks of his successful treatment, another youngster, a pit mix named Rhino, was identified as the next candidate to enter the program in early May, 2016.

To date we have had five Graduates of the Heartworm Heroes Program which adheres to the American Heartworm Society’s Treatment Protocol and who have subsequently been adopted. We have two dogs currently undergoing treatment in our program.

Meet our Alumni:




Meet our Future 2017 Graduates:

Honorable Mentions: Rowdy Intake date: February 13, 2017 and Midas and Titus: Intake date April 13, 2016

During the first couple months of the program, three additional dogs tested positive for Heartworm. Two were strays and their owners found them and one was treated by their adopter.

The two stray dogs were identified as candidates for the program and their treatment was scheduled. While waiting for treatment to begin, their owners came forward and upon redemption, agreed to follow up and continue treatment. A third dog surrendered to the shelter because of change in family dynamics, a young Rottweiler named Rowdy, began treatment. An eager adopter offered to adopt him and continue treatment. These three boys are noted with honorable mention as they were determined to be wonderfully adoptable dogs and were accepted into the Heartworm Heroes Program.