Thank a Healthcare Hero (with Fuzzy Cuteness)

Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working hard to care for patients and going above and beyond for those in need of medical services right now.


Helen Woodward Animal Center wants to help you thank a healthcare worker with our cutest and snuggliest friends!


Nominate your favorite healthcare hero, and we might name a puppy or kitten after them! We will post three nominations and their corresponding adorable photo to our social media pages every week. Nominations start over every week, so keep nominating your healthcare hero weekly!

Featured Healthcare Hero Nominations

Week of April 27, 2020

Dr. Cara, my sister, is a wonderful and kind pediatrician. She spends her working hours in the office and hospital making sure her patients are lovingly cared for and also supporting their fearful parents. Cara spends any downtime that she has sewing cloth masks for anyone who needs one (especially the seniors in my parents’ 55+ community). And she also has arranged blood drives during this crisis to help with the current blood shortage. I am so proud of how my sister has stepped up to help in any way that she can and is the epitome of a healthcare hero! Nominated by Robin Cohen.


Kristen is the most selfless person I know. She’s a nurse practitioner based in NYC who has been treating COVID patients since early March. She rescued a big hound dog about a year ago named Hoss. Kristen and Hoss were separated at the beginning of the crisis (he went to stay with her parents because she was working so much). Hoss is the love of Kristen’s life and given her commitment to rescuing animals, I know she’d be so honored to be named a Healthcare Hero by your organization. Nominated by Elizabeth Pisano.


We would like to nominate all of the nurses and doctors in the COVID wing at Scripps from March 17 to April 16. My father was assigned to the ICU unit after being admitted on March 17 for difficulty breathing due to COVID-19. He was recognized with severe respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator for two weeks and required a rotoprone bed to help circulate air to his lungs through the process. The care and attention paid by the nurses and doctors was invaluable. Especially given that we were not able to see our father for almost a month, nurses like Allison provided constant updates and helped us recognize the minor milestones he made each day which helped us through this long battle. My dad is one of the lucky ones who made it through the virus and recovered. We could not have done this without their care and sacrifice during this difficult time. Because of them, my dad is here with us today. Nominated by Jackie Kelleher.

Week of May 4

Whitney is my older sister. She is a doctor in Boston but was called to work in the ICU in New York City. Right when she was called, she got in her car to go help out in NYC. She has been there for a couple of weeks and is helping COVID patients every day. Her smile, positivity, and compassion for helping others is the reason I nominate my sister, Whitney, as a health care hero. Nominated by Vanessa ZoBell


She is an RN working on a COVID unit & has relocated to a hotel to keep her family safe! On top of that, she’s a full-time Nurse Practitioner student at USD. Nominated by Ginny Meyerhuber 

Whitney is an ICU nurse at Sharp Memorial hospital. Not only is she giving her all at work, she’s doing it at home too – she recently fostered a new dog (Piper), she has cared for her own dog (Pebbles) who became deathly ill, and is still planning her wedding which will likely be cancelled due to the pandemic. Nominated by Katie Jones


Week of May 11

Mark works tirelessly as a nurse, always going above and beyond what is necessary, because he just really cares about people, dogs, and all creatures. During this crisis, he has been at the hospital every day, making sure not only the patients, but his co-workers are supported. He always brightens everyone’s day with his smile and his energy. Nominated by Rachel Schey


Kathleen works in mental health at Sharp Mesa Vista and always puts the care of other above herself even in times like these. She is now living in her family’s garage to make sure she can still go to work to help care for others while protecting her family. She is also now in school for her Master’s degree so she can do even more to help her community. Nominated Jenna Dawes


AJ is a paramedic. He tirelessly serves the citizens of San Diego by providing 911 emergency care. While everyone else must social distance, he is on the front lines caring for the sick and injured. His humility and quiet strength makes him my hero (and the hero of our dog, Bear! ). Nominated by Hilary Hartman


Week of May 18

My sister, Brittanie, is a superstar RN at the Rancho Bernardo Sharp Urgent Care. Brittanie, along with the rest of her team, provide short term care for patients who exhibit signs of COVID-19 and other health issues that don’t require a hospital visit. Brittanie responds to her act of service with grace, care, and compassion. When she’s not working, she is busy with her two young children and provides care while her husband is also working full time. She is a true hero, putting the health of others as a priority in her own life. Nominated by Valerie Zukowski


This hero is a medical lab tech, she goes into work, suits up in a hazmat suit, and takes blood tests for patients. She continues to put herself on the line to tend to patient’s needs, she does this all while being immune compromised herself from years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She is the definition of a hero. Nominated by Liberty Michel.


Steve is an RN at Sharp Memorial Hospital in acute care. He works tirelessly to ensure his patients get the best care possible. He was supposed to graduate with his Master’s degree as a Nursing Practitioner in May, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduation was postponed. Steve is a lifelong learner and always wants to make sure his patients get the best care he can provide. After a long 12 hour shift, his favorite thing to do is to go home to all his fur babies! Nominated by Lisa Merrick


Week of June 1 

My sister Jamee is the nurse who keeps you in the know when your person is quarantined to the sick ward. She’s relaying jokes, I love you’s, and stories when you can’t be face to face. Jamee has a very old therapy dog Pele. If you could name a pet in his honor to carry on her fur baby’s legacy, it would mean the world to her. Nominated by Lisa Hill.

My sister makes me so proud! If you wake up in a hospital bed you are in good hands if you see her. She loves her patients but her passion is animals. Her horse G, her fur babies adopted cat Pearl and her beloved adopted dog Pele. Nominated by Rae Hill.


This healthcare worker is my hero because he works 16-28 hour shifts to help those suffering from COVID-19 and other serious illnesses. He wears suffocating PPE that leave deep marks and indents in his skin. He is the angel that holds the hands of those who must pass on and the hero that brings some back from the brink of death. He has saved countless family members across San Diego County and has put his health on the line for the betterment of others! Thank you, Dr. Lipinski! Nominated by Lindsay Atkins.


I would like to nominate my friend Kelly. Not only is she dedicated to taking care of our community as an ER nurse, she also has a passion for taking care of animals. Her and her husband have rescued two dogs, one as a senior. They also often visit animal shelters while on their travels and take rescue dogs out for walks. Nominated by Jennifer Arzate.


Week of June 15

I am nominating my niece, Kori, a healthcare worker, and her husband, Josh, who is a nurse at a hospital in the Pittsburgh area. They both have been working in hospitals in Pittsburg even before the very beginning of this pandemic. Kori works in the infection control department of the hospital, so she is really working in the front lines. Kori and Josh love their two dogs and I’m sure they would be honored to have a sweet adoptable dog at HWAC named after them. Thanks, Kori, for all you do to keep your hospital safe and thanks to you, Josh, for your dedication to your patients! – Nominated by Yvonne Mather.


Natalia is a nurse working at 3 different hospitals up to 6 days a week. She is giving, always progressing forward, and creating calmness in an environment of chaos. She is always looking out for everyone from patients, to visitors, to janitors, to support animals, or other nurses, etc. Nominated by Marta Dabrowska.


Mark is my brother-in-law and he is a wonderful doctor that has dedicated his life to helping people. He sees patients in his office as well as working at a local hospital as a hospitalist. He has always delivered amazing and compassionate care so it is no surprise to see him helping so many in San Diego during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a stressful and long day Mark loves nothing more than coming home to his family and loving on his dogs Oliver and Lucy. – Nominated by Robin Cohen. 


Week of July 6

Adam takes care of children’s hearts on a daily basis and does it with a contagious smile and a selfless spirit. He’s also the best dad to Sasha, our 7yo Great Dane! – Nominated by Diana Agostini

My brother-in-law, Chris Espinosa, volunteered to work on the Covid-19 floor at his hospital, even though it meant weeks of not hugging his beautiful daughter, Ysabel, or seeing his mom. Chris was a paramedic before becoming a physician’s assistant and has always been our hero.  Nominated by Kelly Davis



Week of July 27 

Nurses are undoubtedly the heart and soul of our healthcare system, and my wife Amanda is no exception.

In March of 2020, she tested positive for COVID-19 and was subsequently admitted to the ICU with life-threatening symptoms. Thankfully, after several days of intense therapy, she was able to come home and has since fully recovered. She has even volunteered: one, to do radio and newspaper interviews to educate others about her experience and two, is donating her plasma in an effort to further knowledge of the antibodies associated with a recovered Coronavirus positive individual and how it can help current COVID-19 patients. – Nominated by Shawn Read


Hailey is my daughter who works as an RN for Scripps Hospital in San Diego. She is a wonderful daughter, sister, military wife, mother, nurse, and yes, a dog lover! She works tirelessly in all her many roles. In recent times, she has been a dedicated health care worker who puts others in need before her own. Hail, hail, to Nurse Hailey!! We love you! – Nominated by Yihwa Hema

Week of August 30


Due to Hurricane Hilary, all  departments will be closing at 3pm today.  Stay safe!