BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ — Help Vets Pets is in dire need of monetary donations to cover the costs of emergency veterinary costs incurred over the past few weeks. The program, facilitated by Friends of Valley Brook, provides food and veterinary care for the dogs and cats of veterans living at Valley Brook Village on the grounds of the VA Hospital in Lyons. 

Until now, the program has been fully funded simply by the presence of donations jars located at participating pet stores and veterinary offices. This has allowed founder Steve Hackenberg, a Scotch Plains native, to purchase nutritious food and treats, new leashes, collars, flea and tick prevention shampoo and drops for the beloved pets, service and therapy animals at Valley Brook. 

“These animals provide their owners, once previously homeless veterans, with companionship, comfort and joy," Steve Hackenberg explained.  "Sometimes, these pets are the only family they have, and they deserve to be taken care of." 

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He shared that over the past two weeks, Help Vets Pets has racked up multiple high veterinary bills after a few Valley Brook pets had fallen ill. 

“We never want to say no to a veteran when their animal is in need of medical care,” said Hackenberg.  

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Berkeley Heights Animal Hospital currently provides veterinary care for the 24 dogs and 13 cats that reside at Valley Brook. 

“Our staff really truly loves each one of the Valley Brook pets. Their owners have become family to us, and we really just want to be able to make sure we are always able to provide the best care for them. Steve is a fantastic guy.  What he does for the veterans is incredible,” said Erin Stagaard from Berkeley Heights Animal Hospital.  

If you are able to help, call Berkeley Heights Animal Hospital at 908-464-0023 and reference the Help Vets Pets Program to make a credit card donation. 

“Every dollar will go toward paying the outstanding bills, or for future care,” said Hackenberg. 

Help Vets Pets donations jars can also be found at Pet Supplies Plus in Berkeley Heights and Duke’s Pet Den in Scotch Plains. 

Help Vets Pets Program is an initiative run by Friends of Valley Brook, an organization that assists previously homeless veterans living at the Valley Brook Village on the Veterans Administration campus at Lyons. 

Started by Hackenberg in 2014, it provides food, clothing, and transportation, along with many other needs.  Many of the volunteers have fostered close, personal relationships with the vets, and are present on a daily basis which provides them with the ability to assess needs in a unique and powerful way.