Heart worm growing problem for stray, abandoned dogs

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C., (WAVY) – Tucked away in Elizabeth City, the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina is full of fur.

It’s the only animal shelter in Pasquotank and Camden Counties, so their kennels and cages are often full.

But Executive Director Anne Pitts says “Clear the Shelters” has helped them empty out.  She said, “To do five animals in a day is a really big deal for us, and that’s been happening quite regularly since this started.”

They’re offering half-price adoptions during the initiative.  Plus, they’ve partnered with the Pasquotank Animal Hospital.  Anyone that adopts during Clear the Shelters can get a free pet check-up at the hospital.

Pitts says the biggest medical challenge they face is heart worms in dogs.  “It seems to be an epidemic around here,” she said.  “It’s spread by mosquitoes and mosquitoes will live in this area all year round.”

She says it’s easily preventable, but very expensive to treat.  Many dogs they see with heart worms come in as strays, or are given up by their owners because of medical treatment costs.

To help stop animal abandonment, they’re working on a new website to educate pet owners. Pitts said, “Just really trying to keep those animals in the home where they belong because so many times it is on the person just needs a little more education on how to handle different things.”

She’s hoping people stop by and look at their animals.  “We just want to get them into their homes where they can be happy and live long, happy lives with their owners,” said Pitts.