Julie Johnson and her dog visit the heartworm clinic held at Marrvelous Pet Rescues in Key Largo. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

More than 100 Upper Keys animals were checked for heartworm during a recent clinic in Key Largo. The health checks were made possible by a grant from a local community organization. 

In all, just one pet tested positive for the disease that causes lung disease, heart failure and other serious organ damage. Heartworm is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bites of mosquitoes, which are out in swarms. 

Held at MarrVelous Pet Rescues and Adoptions at MM 99, oceanside, the heartworm testing clinic saw pets small and large and young and old getting their blood drawn. It took just a few minutes between the draw and the test results. Staff members from Vets 4 Less were on site with a mobile clinic to provide the testing and six months’ supply preventive care for those testing negative.

The clinic was part of MarrVelous Pet Rescue’s Pet Protection Program, which was made possible by a grant from Community Foundation of the Florida Keys

“With the funding and donations, we were able to partner with Vets 4 Less to provide critical screening for a disease that poses severe impacts to the health of pets in the Keys,” said Ann Sandlin, rescue coordinator for MarrVelous Pet Rescues. “Our goal is to ensure the animals stay safe. We’re right in the heart of mosquito season, and it takes just one bite to start the spread of heartworm disease.”

The recent clinic is one of many services offered during the pandemic to assist pet owners who have been affected, many by their jobs and income. Along with the animal rescue’s mission in finding homes for animals, they’re assisting the local community through the Pet Food Relief program. Owners can sign up for the Kibble Wagon by visiting www.marrvelouspetrescues.org. From there, volunteers deliver the food right to the pet owner’s door. MarrVelous is working alongside Keys Kritters and Whiskers and Paws to fulfill orders.

“Food is loaded into a volunteer’s vehicle and it’s delivered to the home without interaction with the owner,” Sandlin said. “It’s contactless.”

More information is at the website or 305-453-1315.

Beau gets his blood drawn by Vets 4 Less staff to test for heartworm.
Staff from Vets 4 Less and volunteers with Marrvelous Pet Rescues put on a successful heartworm clinic that tested more than 100 animals in the Upper Keys.

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