About Me
My name is Sue DesMarais, I'm a Police Officer who was retired early due to severe work injuries. My partners name is Jennifer Gallagher, a former veterinary technician and nursing student. We bought our home in Jackson NJ in 2006 so we could have a large yard for our dogs. At the time we had three but when we moved a few rescue dogs found us and our family grew to five; Toby a Shepherd mix, Dascha a German Shepherd, Odin a German Shepherd, Piglet a Pitty and of course our girl Chaos, a Chocolate Lab.

On July 2, 2012, I had just arrived at a doctors appointment when my cell phone rang showing the number of my neighbor, Janet. I almost didn't answer due to my appointment but something told me to pick up the call. Janet was frantic on the line and my heart sunk, all I could make out was "fire coming out of your roof." I began screaming that the garage door was unlocked, GET THE DOGS OUT!!!! I called Jenn and jumped in my Jeep. I kept the jeeps pedal to the metal, praying for a brother officer to stop me so that they could expedite me in getting home ASAP. I kept calling the Police Department yelling again and again that my garage was unlocked GET MY DOGS OUT!!! I then called my Sergeant, Bob Pintye, praying that it was his day to work his part time job as an animal control officer in my town. I knew he'd move mountains for me, he has been and always will be a hero to me, even before the fire. He said, "I just turned onto your street kid, keep it together and don't wreck on the road getting here." During my white knuckled drive home I kept calling my neighbor who wouldn't give me an update, so I knew it was really bad.

I arrived to my street blocked off with fire trucks, police cars and ambulances..just like any fire call I responded to countless times as an officer. Except this time it was MY house, MY dogs and I couldn't stop myself from dropping to my knees on my lawn. I broke, I shattered, I felt a depth of pain that I didn't even know existed. The first thing I saw was Sarg carrying Chaos out, clearly passed on. I saw Piglet breathing hard in a crate. I saw Toby confined in a patrol car going crazy trying to get out because he kept running back into the house, trying to show the fire fighters where his buddies were. He was the only one alive when the Fire Fighters made entry. I saw Odin in bad shape in Sarg's animal control truck and he had already sent Dascha in another animal control vehicle, lights and sirens to the animal hospital. I was advised that they were all in really bad shape and that Sarg had knelt in between our two German Shepherds, doing CPR compressions on both at the same time while the EMT's and Fire Fighters were doing CPR on Piglet, all using special pet oxygen masks. I dropped to my knees once more, next to Chaos. I cried harder than I've ever cried for anyone or anything in my entire life. It was my job to protect them and I failed. The Fire Fighters saw me, they silently knelt down on the ground with me in a circle with their arms over me and they cried too.

All of the dogs but Toby were taken to the animal hospital, they were all in CCU for weeks. Somehow, my incredible neighbors, Janet, Jodi AND the Fire Fighters found us at my mom's house. They came in caravans of emergency vehicles with dog beds, dog food, collars, leashes, treats and anything else that they could think of for the pups, paid for out of their own pockets. Then they came again and again with clothes for us, shoes, pillows, blankets, gift certificates and food. It blew us away. We were stunned, honored and humbled at the amount of people who came out for Jenn and I and more importantly, our dogs. Our friends set up a benefit and they had two buckets set out, one said For The Girls and the other said For The Dogs, people even called in credit card numbers to the animal hospital for our bill.

We temporarily relocated to a rental house in Long Branch, NJ while ours was being gutted, ironically just 3 months prior to Hurricane Sandy. During the storm I volunteered to help a friend, who was a Captain of a neighboring police department, so I could lend an extra pair of hands during the hurricane evacuation. 48 hours later when I returned to our temporary house there was a boat on the front lawn and six feet of water had been inside. All of the furniture we replaced from the fire was now ruined, all of our clothes from Serv-pro had just been delivered the day before the storm and was all ruined..again. We were now homeless..again, in just 3 short months.

Now that we are finally home and things have settled down a bit, Jenn and I have dedicated ourselves to helping others the way we were helped and to make sure our sweet Chaos is not forgotten. Recently, A new puppy has come into our lives, she is a German Shepherd that we named Valor. She is now a part of our journey to help others.

Our mission at the K-9 Valor Task Force is to provide the following services:
  • Bulletproof vests and other needed equipment for Police K-9 Units
  • Pet oxygen masks, like the ones that saved Dascha, Odin and Piglet, for Fire Departments and other First Responders
  • Pet CPR training for pet owners and First Responders
  • Search and Rescue training for Valor and other needed equipment
  • Assistance to people displaced by fire and other disasters

We will also be planting the Garden of Valor on our property open to anyone in our community who needs food. The garden will also be the drop off location for coat drives, food drives and anyone who would like to donate household items for people displaced by fire and other disasters.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story. If you or someone you know needs help, please don't hesitate in calling us.