Healthcare worker's life-changing rescue dog helps Lifeline win $10k grant from Petco

Jessica Hoover knows the weight of this year on frontline workers. After all, she is one at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

Hoover said she’s witnessed the burnout in the wake of the "unforeseen" pandemic. "I’ve seen those amazing heroes in my eyes get tired and really need some sleep or some food...And the question in my mind is, who's taking care of us sometimes?" Hoover asked.

The physician assistant found her answer in a brindle mutt rescued from Lifeline Animal Project.

Hoover's rescue dog, Cali, trails her pet tortoise.

In an extraordinarily difficult year, especially burdensome for those in healthcare, Hoover’s rescue pup, Cali, offered a glimpse of normalcy and joy.

"The emotional support, the happy nature she has, is so lighthearted and such a contrast to the rest of the year," Hoover smiled.

The tail-wagging pup's impact caught the attention of Petco, who then awarded Lifeline a $10,000 grant as part of its Holiday Wishes Campaign.

Petco said stories like Hoover’s "[serve] as a reminder to us the impact pets have on our lives."

"Animals have the ability to take us out of ourselves and put us in the moment with them and help create joy," said Karen Hirsch with Lifeline. "I think that's what is so special about Jessica [Hoover’s] story."

The grant came at a critical time for the non-profit, as there's a greater demand for Lifeline's programs, plus a void in fundraising events because of the pandemic.

While Lifeline has seen a spike in adoptions this year, the organization has also seen a surge in need from pet owners experiencing financial instability. The non-profit fed pets in more than 1,000 struggling homes just between March and June.

"Receiving this $10,000 grant is really life-saving," Hirsch said. "It will help us support all of our programs, and it will support our mission to save every life possible."

Petco split an additional $20,000 among three other metro Atlanta animal welfare organizations.

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