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Practices Win KNOW Heartworms Campaign Contest, Raise Awareness of HARD

The KNOW Heartworms campaign has announced the winners of the Veterinary Hospital Awareness Contest. The contest recognized the top four practices participating in the KNOW Heartworms campaign, which was developed to raise awareness of feline heartworm disease and Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Practices were encouraged to enter the contest to showcase how they used the KNOW Heartworms materials to educate their clients and community. Winning first place is Wolftever Pet Hospital of Harrison, Tenn. The second-place winner is Cat Hospital At Towson of Baltimore, Md., and two practices tied for third place: Eastex Veterinary Clinic of Kingwood, Texas, and VCA Hemingway of Saratoga, Calif.

Tom Nelson, DVM, president of the American Heartworm Society, said the contest gave practices an opportunity to show how they got involved in KNOW Heartworms. "Each practice has its own unique way of using the campaign materials and teaching clients about the disease. This contest rewards the most innovative practices and gives us feedback on how we can improve KNOW Heartworms for 2008," he said.

The contest entrants used a variety of creative techniques along with the KNOW Heartworms materials to teach their clients and the community about the danger of feline heartworm disease. Wolftever Pet Hospital created heartworm-related costumes and goody bags and gave presentations to second and fourth grade students at a local elementary school. The staff also decorated the hospital with the students’ artwork.

Darlene White, DVM, of Wolftever Pet Hospital, said she felt great about the hospital being named the winner, "We all worked hard, and it was a lot of fun." Dr. White added that since learning about KNOW Heartworms, she now sees feline heartworm as more of a problem than she originally thought. "We have promoted prevention for years in dogs, now it is time to do the same for our feline patients," she said.

Cat Hospital At Towson used many approaches to inform its clients, including creating educational displays and a DVD for the waiting room. The staff passed out Easter eggs filled with information about heartworms during the Easter holiday. Clients were encouraged to fill out a survey on cat health, after which they were eligible to win a free supply of topical preventive.

"The staff is excited and proud that they made such an impact educating cat owners and helping cats," said Jane Brunt, DVM, Cat Hospital At Towson founder and owner. "I felt our best tactic was the survey given to cat owners because it led more of them to choose heartworm prevention."

Eastex Veterinary Clinic put up educational posters and brochures, and had a cat owner from the clinic staff explain the danger of heartworms to each cat owner. The clinic is focusing on getting all cats on a preventive. "Respiratory problems in cats can very likely be heartworms, especially in our part of the country," said Raine Saldinger, Eastex office assistant. "We now know that heartworms can cause these respiratory problems, and we are applying this knowledge to any of our cats that come in."

VCA Hemingway held a Feline Heartworm Awareness Day with a latte and smoothie bar. Clients were invited to have a complimentary beverage, browse informational handouts and discuss heartworms with staff. "We were ecstatic to find out we won third place in a nationwide contest. We were especially happy because we are a huge supporter of heartworm awareness and prevention, and this was our reward for working so hard on promoting something we truly believe in," said Tania Nochimson, VCA Hemingway hospital manager.

"It was interesting to see that it wasn’t the flashiest or most expensive approaches that were the most effective," said Margie Scherk, DVM, ABVP (Feline), president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. She added, "In judging, we considered how well the practices educated their clients about feline heartworm disease and the need for prevention."

Though the contest is over, the practices will continue the KNOW Heartworms campaign. Staff members at each practice have pledged to keep educating cat owners and encouraging them to put their cats on prevention.

About KNOW Heartworms

KNOW Heartworms aims to educate veterinarians and cat owners about the real threat of feline heartworm disease, which reveals itself as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD), and the importance of prevention. The American Heartworm Society and the American Association of Feline Practitioners have partnered together for this campaign, which is sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health. For more information, visit www.knowheartworms.org.

About AHS

Founded during the Heartworm Symposium of 1974, the American Heartworm Society was formed to facilitate and encourage the generation and dissemination of information about heartworm disease and encourages adoption of standardized procedures for its diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The American Heartworm Society stimulates and financially supports research, which furthers knowledge and understanding of the disease. Its headquarters are located in Batavia, Ill. For more information, visit www.heartwormsociety.org.

About AAFP

The American Association of Feline Practitioners improves the health and well-being of cats by supporting high standards of practice, continuing education, and scientific investigation. They welcome all who are veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats. Included in its mission is to improve the public stature of cats and to increase the knowledge of veterinarians in the field of feline medicine and surgery. For more information, visit www.aafponline.org.

About Pfizer Animal Health

Pfizer Animal Health, a division of Pfizer Inc, is a world leader in animal health, committed to providing innovative medicines and vaccines for companion animals and livestock. Pfizer Inc discovers, develops, manufactures and markets leading prescription medicines, for humans and animals, and many of the world’s best-known consumer products. For additional information on Pfizer, visit www.pfizerah.com.

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