Now that spring has sprung, so have the mosquitoes!

These pesky little bugs can cause an itchy sting on a human, but they can be deadly to dogs. Fortunately, there are medications that will prevent this disease.

A dog must first be tested and deemed negative for heartworm before starting the preventive. A simple pill can be given once a month, or there is an injection that will last six months or a year.

Once the dog does become infected, there are only two choices. Either treat this disease, which is terribly costly, or the dog will die a horrible and painful death. This worm grows around the heart and eventually obstructs the proper working of the heart. The dog will die from lack of oxygen — terrible and painful death. You may have your dogs tested at a veterinarian or at the Madison County Humane Society by appointment only. You then will be given the results that can be taken to a veterinarian so you may purchase your preventive.

Every dog that comes into the Madison County Humane Society is tested for heartworm. If the test is negative, the dog is put on a once a month preventive. If the test is positive, an appointment is made to treat the dog.

Puppy season is on the way, and with puppies comes parvo disease. This is another deadly virus that is spread from dog to dog. Vaccines can prevent this virus, but if not vaccinated there is a 91% fatality rate. The first signs are loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. I worry when I see young puppies at PetSmart and city parks. These are places where this disease can be transmitted. A little puppy will only have to step on an area where a parvo-positive dog has been or gone potty.

When we process applications at the Madison County Humane Society, one of our primary concerns is the previous veterinary record of the applicant. This history helps tell us about what we might expect from the person going forward. If the applicant has not previously had a pet, our manager, Nikki, will educate the new owner on the importance of good and consistent veterinary care. Nikki mentioned to me a few days ago that she sees many applications that show exemplary veterinary care but are lacking in giving heartworm preventive. This is a major part of proper dog care, and many times an application will be denied on this technicality.

Pet adoption should be a major decision, not just a short-term whim. The animal should be considered a part of the family, and this adoption should be a lifetime commitment for the pet. We do realize the there are unforeseen circumstances and that is why we are here. While in our care at the Madison County Humane Society, our animals are loved and given the best of care we want that care to be continued in the new home.

We will be hosting our annual Dog Walk and marking its 20th anniversary on May 15! This will be a part of the Little 500 weekend.

Susie Schieve is executive director of the Madison County Humane Society.

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