A Legacy of Love for Pets

Monday, October 13, 2014
Family’s heartfelt donation helps dogs recover from heartworm

vet tech holds dogEllen B. Gray dedicated much of her life to helping animals. She volunteered her time and donated to animal welfare groups wherever she lived, from San Diego to Boston.

“She was a sweet, gentle person who put animals ahead of people,” said her husband, Dr. Peter Gray. “She never wanted to see any harm come to them.”

When Mrs. Gray succumbed to cancer earlier this year in Florida, Dr. Gray searched for a way to honor his wife’s lifelong commitment to animals. He found it in PetSmart Charities’ Rescue Waggin’® Program.

The program moves dogs and puppies from shelters in overcrowded communities to cities where pets are more likely to be adopted — often within just a day or two. But until Dr. Gray got involved, the program rarely transported dogs with heartworm, a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs.

Heartworm is caused by a parasite, carried by mosquitoes, that infests the dog’s body and clogs the heart and major blood vessels. This can interrupt blood supply to major organs and cause them to fail.

The disease can be treated successfully, but the primary drug involved is expensive, costing at least $200 per dog. Because of that expense and a long recovery time, the shelters that adopt out Rescue Waggin’ dogs could rarely accept heartworm-positive pets. The program usually had to leave these dogs behind.

“I didn’t know that dogs were being turned away because of a treatable parasite,” said Dr. Gray. “I’m sure Ellen would have said, ‘Take care of them.‘“

Dr. Gray set up the Ellen Gray Rescue Waggin’ Medical Treatment Fund with a $25,000 donation. Because of his generosity, up to 125 dogs with heartworm will be saved and ride Rescue Waggin’ vehicles to find their new forever families.

He said he felt confident donating to PetSmart Charities in this way because he knew his donation would save lives. PetSmart Charities’ 4-star rating on Charity Navigator also caught his attention.

Dr. Gray said he hopes his donation will inspire others to give to the fund — so that more heartworm-positive dogs are treated and can live healthy lives in loving homes. 

“This donation will run out unless others add to it. Continuing this donation program will ensure that more dogs will live.”

If you would like to learn more about supporting this fund, please contact Nina Wethers at nwethers[at]petsmartcharities[dot]org or (623) 587-2225.


Kyle Pigman

How do we (Izard County Animal Rescue Effort) apply for treatment funds for heartworm Positive dogs?


Hi Kyle, if you're currently a Rescue Waggin' partner please speak with your program manager. If you're not currently a Rescue Waggin' partner, you can find more information about the program here:


Hi. My rescue dog just tested (+) for heart worms. Im in need of help to cover the treatment costs. I have my pet at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Nashville, TN. I am looking for a charity to with some of the costs. I am able to help pay as well. I came across this page, am I in the right direction? Can this charity help me? Thank you.


I am so sorry to hear about your pet and we do hope they get well soon. PetSmart Charities only funds 501©3 nonprofit animal welfare organizations. Please contact your local animal welfare organization, or another nonprofit such as the Banfield Charitable Trust, for assistance. Thank you for your understanding.


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