By Jan Carabeo

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. (CBS) – An animal shelter in Chester County is embarking on a new life-saving mission. Dozens of pups in Phoenixville are now getting a new “leash” on life.

Sadie and her foster mom Marissa Miller are just about ready to make it official.

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“By the end of the month, I should be able to adopt her,” Miller said. “You can really tell that she’s thankful.”

But first, Sadie needs one last treatment. That tell-tale square patch of shaved fur indicates Sadie is heartworm positive.


“It is a death sentence if it’s not treated,” Main Line Animal Rescue Dr. Alicia Royer said.

But Main Line Animal Rescue in Phoenixville is stepping in to help, now treating dozens of dogs just like Sadie. It’s part of the shelter’s new life-saving mission called the “Healing Heartworm program.”

“Heartworm dogs get left behind,” Royer said.

Through a $30,000 grant from the BISSELL Pet Foundation, MLAR is rescuing dogs from overcrowded shelters in the south where heartworm is prevalent, and covering the cost of their treatment which can run between $1,500 to $3,000.

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“These dogs are at high risk of euthanasia just because it is expensive to treat,” Main Line Animal Rescue Site Director Nichola Redmond said. “What we want to do is take that barrier away.”

Little Amelia and Skittles are undergoing treatment too. A months-long process that involves oral medicine and three injections.

“So, we would do the injection part and the rest is rest and love,” Royer said.

“They go on to lead healthy, happy lives,” Redmond said.

In the meantime, MLAR is looking for fosters like Marissa Miller who possibly want to adopt.

“It’s a good feeling to know that I saved her and that I could give her another chance,” Miller said.

The goal though is 100-second chances. And Main Line Animal Rescue is trying to match that grant in donated funds to make it happen.

“We’re hoping that after we do this 100 that we can continue to do it for years to come,” Redmond said.

Heartworm is much less prevalent in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but dogs can still get it. The disease is spread by mosquitos and can be prevented by taking a pill once a month.

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If you want to make a donation or become a foster for an animal like Skittles and so many more, click here.