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Local teen finds creative way to help heartworm-positive dogs at Houston Humane Society

While volunteering with the Houston Humane Society Riley Burwell noticed some pups were often getting passed over due to their condition. Through some creative fundraising, Burwell found a way to help sponsor their treatment and find them forever homes.
While volunteering with the Houston Humane Society Riley Burwell noticed some pups were often getting passed over due to their condition. Through some creative fundraising, Burwell found a way to help sponsor their treatment and find them forever homes.

HOUSTON – In honor of “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” we’re shining a spotlight on a local teen who’s spreading awareness for heartworm-positive dogs. While volunteering with the Houston Humane Society Riley Burwell noticed some pups were often getting passed over due to their condition. Through some creative fundraising, Burwell found a way to help sponsor their treatment and find them forever homes.

“I noticed that the heartworm-positive dogs weren’t getting as much attention, and people are afraid of them because they don’t know what heartworms are,” said Burwell.

Heartworms are a parasite commonly found in dogs that occur when the animal is bitten by an infected mosquito. The parasites live inside the heart and can cause severe health issues. Preventative treatment is widely recommended by veterinarians, as the treatment of heartworm disease is lengthy and expensive. In Houston, the condition is common due to the prevalence of mosquitoes, and many intakes at animal shelters suffer from the disease.

“I actually joined a leadership program here at Houston Humane Society, and we did a project, and I decided to fundraise for heartworm-positive dogs,” said Burwell.

Burwell combined her talent for art with her love of animals to paint and commission pieces for purchase. Additionally, she started baking dog cookies for people to buy at the shelter. All proceeds from the sales go towards funding heartworm treatment at the Houston Humane Society.

“It’s a passion of mine and a hobby,” said Burwell. “It takes me a very long time, but I love doing it.”

Aside from raising money for heartworm treatment, Burwell hopes people will educate themselves on heartworms and give these pups a chance at a long happy life.

“I hope that they realize that heartworm dogs are in need of a home. I hope they just recognize them more,” said Burwell. “All animals deserve the attention and the love.”

For more information on how you can help, visit the Houston Humane Society website here.


About the Author:

Olivia Kolanek is the Features Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the KPRC family in the summer of 2019 after working in non-profit communications for three years. She is passionate about creating content that features good people, good food or a good story. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.