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Borderland dogs once on death row face another potential killer

By: Stephanie Guadian
EL PASO, Texas -- Seven dogs on death row in Dona Ana County were adopted during their final hours, but the animals are still facing a potential killer.

Their names are Buster, Peanut, Cowboy, Arthur, Barkley, Gloria and Duke. All of the dogs were marked to be euthanized at the Dona Ana County Las Cruces Animal Shelter. 

They have something else in common -- all tested positive for heartworm disease. 

Anthony Robles works with population control at the shelter. 

"It's getting a lot worse. We've seen more", said Robles.

During the Borderland's rainy season, puddles of stagnant water are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos. It takes only one bite from an infected mosquito to spread the potentially deadly disease.

The American Heartworm Society estimates more than a million dogs in the U.S. have heartworms, and both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk. 

"I recommend you do take your animals to the vet to find out if they are or not. They do have to be over the age of 4 months to be tested for heartworms," said Robles.

Once in a dog's bloodstream, the infection enters the animal's heart and lungs. Symptoms can include: coughing, sluggishness and difficulty breathing. It may take years for the symptoms to show, if at all.

If not treated, dogs can suffer severe lung disease, heart failure and death. Prevention is key -- a monthly heartworm medication can keep your pets safe. And it's a lot less expensive than treatment. It's important to note cats are also at risk. 

Buster, Peanut, Cowboy, Arthur, Barkley, Gloria and Duke may be off death row, but without treatment for their heartworm, their lives likely would have been cut short anyway. Thankfully, the families who adopted them are making sure these guys get a second chance.

Click here for more information on heartworms.



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