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Utah woman who helps struggling pet owners lifted with Dream Team surprise

Posted at 7:59 AM, May 30, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Many people say pets are like family members and for those experiencing homelessness, pets can provide love, companionship and even protection.

Margie Valera is on a mission to help vulnerable and low-income individuals provide the best life possible for their pets.

She's the founder of a group called the "Street Dawg Crew of Utah."

"She's a little dynamo," said Trachelle Hilton-King, who nominated Valera for a surprise. "I don't think she really understands the difference that she makes."

"I love animals and I started out in my car with bags of dog food just stopping and talking to people," Valera reminisced.

The crew provides food, vaccinations, vet care and much more for pets who belong to people experiencing homelessness as well as those with low income.

"It's very rewarding," Valera explained, "My pets are my world."

In 2022, the group distributed more than 73,000 pounds of pet food and administered 200 free vaccinations to pets in Utah.

"I can't imagine how helpless that feels to be so bonded to this sentinel being that is your everything and to not be able to provide for them," Hilton-King reflected.

The organization solely relies on donations and volunteers and Valera is known to give much of her own money to the cause.

"It's very rewarding to put a smile on somebody's face knowing you're helping them," she said.

Hilton-King and other group members asked the FOX 13 Dream Team to pay Valera a visit with a special surprise to help the cause and emphasize how important she is to the community.

Valera was presented with a $1,000 gift to help with her cause of lifting vulnerable pet owners in her community as well as a $250 gift card to PetCo.

As Valera takes so much time to serve her community, the FOX 13 Dream Team also wanted to help her take time for herself with a gift card to Texas Roadhouse for a dinner out and movie passes.

"It's exciting that somebody thinks of what we do," Valera said emotionally. "I can give so much more."