Pets alone

Valerie Hoegel, founder of Hospaws, is a true treasure to have around during an emergency.  She established her organization to temporarily re-home pet’s whose owners are receiving medical care, such as in-patient surgeries or rehab stays. Valerie currently has approximately 25 fosters located throughout Western PA, and she stresses she is “always looking for more fosters” to help provide loving homes for animals whose loved one is away.

As an animal shelter volunteer, Valerie witnessed many heartaches caused when pets had to be separated from their beloved family member due to a temporary hospitalization. She was moved to tears seeing the pets confused, scared, and plopped at the door of the shelter.

She tells the story of a man who came into the shelter to surrender his brothers Great Pyrenees dog, after his brother was admitted to the hospital. There was no one in the immediate family who could care for him. Valerie noticed how sad, stressed out, and confused this sweet dog was and tried to comfort him the best she could.  A few days after he was surrendered, Valerie arrived for her volunteer shift and immediately went to check on her new friend…only to find his kennel empty.  The precious dog had passed away…exactly 24 hours after his “daddy” unexpectedly died in the hospital.  Valerie was devastated and was sure the dog died from a broken heart.  Through her tears, she “knew she had to do something,” and Hospaws was founded.

An unexpected benefit arose from the creation of a service to help those who need temporary care for their pet. The volunteer caregivers, who feel the need to care for a pet, but for a variety of reasons, cannot commit to a complete adoption find fostering very rewarding.  Christine Ambrose is one of those volunteers who recently lost her dog, Chase, the love of her life. She said “fostering is an easy way to get your doggie fix without making a permanent commitment.” Caring for a dog in need has helped mend her broken heart.

Through her kind heart and compassion, she has been able to touch the lives of many families, those who need care provided as well as those who need to provide care. Over the course of the past 3 years, Valerie and her wonderful foster team have helped hundreds of animals from dogs and cats to turtles and birds-she strives to help any pet in need. For this she is truly a treasure.

For more information about Hospaws or to fill out a foster application to help more animals in need, please call 724/787-7304.

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