Nurses not only make a difference in the work they do within the hospital each day, but also by volunteering their time and talents for the communities and organizations close to their hearts. This series is dedicated to highlighting some of the many ways that Brigham nurses give back.

Jenelle Johnson with one of 10 dogs she has fostered.

Jenelle Johnson, MSN, RN, PMGT-BC, nursing director for Braunwald Tower 6A, 9AB and the Divisional ICU Resource Pool, has always had a soft spot for animals. Five years ago, she set out to help abused and neglected dogs and bring joy into people’s lives by volunteering for Last Hope K9 Rescue (LHK9), an all-breed dog rescue based in Massachusetts.

“LHK9 is completely run by volunteers with no paid staff or board members,” said Johnson, who now serves as senior coordinator for the organization. “We have rescued over 10,000 dogs in 10 years.”

Johnson volunteers 10 to 20 hours each week. When she began with LHK9, she was conducting home visits to make sure each home was a safe environment and that the dog and adopters were a good match.

Her responsibilities have since grown to oversee the home visit division, while also staying involved in various events and programs.

“LHK9 has created some truly special programs, including Prison Pups, which pairs dogs with inmates for socialization and helps dogs learn basic commands, and Stress Puppies, which brings puppy love to veterans free-of-charge,” she said.

Johnson also helps to foster dogs in her own home as they await adoption.

“Animal rescue is emotional work; every day we’re trying to help puppies and dogs who have lost their homes, through no fault of their own,” said Johnson. “With LHK9 Rescue, I’m able to see the impact of the volunteer work and watch these amazing animals grow to do great things, find great homes, and bring joy into a lot of people’s lives. It makes all the tugging on your heartstrings worth it.”