One dog’s journey: From heartworm-positive at the Guilford County Animal Shelter to heartworm free at home

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The first time Hercules was captured on camera by FOX8, he was a staff favorite at the Guilford County Animal Shelter. That said, you wouldn’t have seen those staff members taking Hercules outside to play fetch. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they couldn’t. 

“The hardest thing for Hercules, given that he’s active, is to try to keep him from moving while he was on his heartworm medicine,” said Chad Allison, who adopted Hercules days after we first met him. 

Hercules’ heartworm diagnosis would be potentially life-threatening, had it not been for the shelter’s “Have a Heart” fund.  

Once a heartworm-positive dog is adopted, that fund goes to what employees call a “fast kill” treatment, administered at Oak Ridge Animal Hospital. Hercules received his first treatment alongside his new mom, Karen Allison, shortly after being adopted.  

After the treatments, the Allisons had to wait several months to learn if they were effective. 

“It wasn’t, ‘he’s got heartworms we don’t need him,’” Chad Allison said. “ It wasn’t like that, it was, ‘OK, he’s got heartworms, it can be fixed.’” 

Late this summer, Hercules went back to the animal hospital. There, they learned he’d been cured. 

“So he’s a whole different dog now,” Chad added. 

Now Hercules spends his days running and playing. When his dad gets under a truck to work on it, Hercules lays down next to him. Sometimes, under the same truck. 

“If I could just teach him to bring me the right wrench,” Chad joked. 

It wasn’t the easiest of transitions for Hercules or the Allisons. At one point, they came home to find their bathroom destroyed. 

“A message if I could relay to other people about shelter dogs, or rescues, is be patient with them,” Chad said.  

The Allisons also want to encourage people to adopt older dogs, especially around the holiday season.  

“That’s really sad to this older dog, who has this loving home, and then at Christmas time a puppy shows up and it’s put to the back burner or discarded,” Chad said. “So we wanted an older dog.” 

Hercules is now 7 years old.  

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