Who is Valerie Reid? Missouri woman turns her home into a hospice for elderly dogs
Valerie Reid, 44, founded the Missouri-based non-profit Whispering Willows Senior Dog Sanctuary in Hermitage in 2017 after struggling to find a home for her father's aging Doberman. She is a pet lover who couldn't bear the thought of aging dogs dying alone and decided to turn her house into a hospice. Whispering Willows first opened its doors on July 19, 2017, and presently has the capacity to house up to 80 pets at any given time.
Reid now takes in dogs who have been in a shelter for a long period, or whose owners have passed away or moved into a retirement home. She mentioned, "My husband and I were at our city's pet limit and we were unable to take her. We looked everywhere for any rescue that would help and due to her age none would home her."
Valerie and her 42-year-old husband Josh Reid relocated from Kansas City to their current home in Hermitage. She even contacted a local veterinarian to aid with medical expenditures because the house is 3,000 square feet with a 1,700 square foot outbuilding to keep the dogs. Valerie said, "The sanctuary truly evolved and became bigger and bigger than I had even thought. I love having so many little hearts that love us back."
They now have 17 full-time employees who provide 24-hour care and on-site hospitalization. Dogs are brought in from other shelters or whose owners have passed away or gone into nursing homes, leaving them with nowhere to go. The senior dogs are free to roam throughout the five acres of a gated area or relax on one of the many dog beds placed across the site. Toys and treats are lavished upon them all. Valerie and her staff have made over 790 dogs feel at ease when it's time for them to pass away since opening, and they've taken a clay paw print and a watercolor painting of each one.
Valerie believes that by telling her story, she will inspire people to consider what would happen to their pets if they died. She said, "All of us need to plan for the future, that not only includes spouses and children but also beloved pets. Death is not scary, it is a privilege to grow old and we all must face death someday. We help as many senior dogs as we can but we are overwhelmed with the quantity and then the medical expenses. We hope to raise awareness showing the great need for senior care as well as awareness for our sanctuary."