BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The time has come for the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project to move out of President Jason Cooke’s home and into its own facility in the backyard of the 39.88 acre plot his home sits on.
By spring 2023, Cooke is hoping to have a 9,300 sq. ft. facility to help him and his team continue to treat heartworm-positive dogs.
“It’s being designed solely for the treatment, recovery and adopting out of heartworm-positive dogs,” Cooke said.
To date, they’ve saved 329 dogs from heartworm disease and are on pace to help about 300 this year. The addition of the facility would help them treat between 400 to 500 dogs per year.
“It’s going to be nice for the dogs, it’s going to be nice for the public, it’s going to be nice for the volunteers,” Cooke said.
The cost of the project is in the ballpark of $1.9 million to $2.1 million. Individuals can donate on the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project’s Facebook page. Individuals can also contact them if they’d like to foster a dog as well.
“You’ll see lots of updates periodically. We have lots of fundraisers going on. There are going to be lots of sponsorship opportunities available, so people can sponsor portions of the building, the entire building, individual kennels, so forth, it’s going to be a nice project. It’s going to be a long time, but two years is going to go fast,” Cooke said.
Cooke started helping heartworm-positive animals in August 2018 in partnership with the Mahoning County Dog Warden and the commissioners, and in May of 2019, the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project was founded.
He said the addition of the facility could be a game-changer for animal welfare in the country as he helps dogs from outside of Ohio, but he hopes it shows people that heartworm-positive dogs deserve a second lease on life.
“This is a 100% preventable disease, and so many people aren’t aware of how heartworm is spread or what they can do to prevent it,” Cooke said. “I actually hope that one day maybe we won’t need this organization, that there won’t be any heartworm-positive dogs, and people will take responsibility for their pets.”