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Group plans new dog shelter

9,300-square-foot facility in Brookfield to cost $1.9M to $2.1M

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Jason Cooke, president of the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project in Brookfield, with Archie, a 5-year-old mixed breed, at the site where a planned new 9,300-square-foot facility will be built to house heartworm-positive dogs receiving treatment. A fundraising campaign for the $1.9 million to $2.1 million facility has begun to get the building constructed by 2023.

BROOKFIELD — Because of the increased number of dogs testing positive for heartworm, the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project is planning to construct a 9,300-square-foot facility off Collar Price Road where they can stay to recover.

Jason Cooke, president of HHPP, started helping heartworm-positive animals in August 2018 in partnership with the Mahoning County Dog Warden and the commissioners, and in 2019, the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project was founded.

Cooke said so far this year, the organization has helped 42 dogs and expects to assist 300 by year’s end. Because of the increased number, fundraising has begun for a $1.9 million to $2.1 million facility at the 39-acre site.

“We are designing a facility to help more heartworm positive dogs. This way we can help as many as 400 to 500 dogs a year. It’s being designed solely for the treatment, recovery and adopting out of heartworm-positive dogs. There will be a quarantine area and special recovery areas for the dogs,” Cooke said.

Plans are to begin fundraising this year, break ground in spring 2022 and open the facility in spring 2023.

Individuals can donate on the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project’s Facebook page. Individuals also can contact the organization if they’d like to foster a dog.

Cooke said people will be able to sponsor portions of the building, the entire building or individual kennels.

He said the facility could be used not only to help dogs in Ohio, but other states as well.

Township Trustee Chairman Dan Suttles said Cooke will work with the Trumbull County building department for his project since the township does not have zoning.

The organization’s volunteers go to area shelters and find dogs that are heartworm positive.

“I have given up my entire home and garage to do this. The number of dogs in need has grown so we need a larger facility,” he said, noting dogs now are in kennels or crates.

Cooke said he and volunteers do what they can to get as many dogs into foster care as they can.

He said he has worked with Mahoning County commissioners, the dog warden and Friends of Fido to help save the heartworm positive dogs.

“People thought I was crazy, but I wanted to help the dogs,” Cooke said, noting he started with five crates in his house.

Cooke also has an area for dogs to run and play, which was put in by volunteers. About 10 volunteers per day help the organization with walking dogs, cleaning kennels and trying to socialize the dogs. Recently, the Youngstown State University lacrosse team helped walk dogs.

Cooke said heartworm is a preventable disease caused by mosquitoes.

Costs for heartworm treatment can range between $500 to $700, he said.

“It will be nice to have all the dogs in one location. We want to help the dogs get adopted after their treatment. Too often they have been considered unadopatable because of heartworm. With treatment that is successful, they can live happy lives,” he said.

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