OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A beloved Oakland nurse who worked at Highland Hospital for more than 30 years and had a passion for saving more than one kind of life is being mourned after she died of COVID.

When away from the hospital, Valerie Louie spent much of her time volunteering at Rocket Dog Rescue in Oakland, helping rescue dogs to give them a second chance.

Her friends say she saved thousands of dogs during her lifetime and brought them joy.

She spent most of her days and nights working as a nurse for over three decades.

“I knew she worked until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. We would be out looking for a dog that was missing and here she would come,” said Rocket Dog Urban Sanctuary volunteer and friend Tammy Hilrich.

“These dogs would come off the van and she would be picking ticks off of them, checking out their medicals, and bringing them to the vet,” said friend Meg McAdam.

Louie’s son tells KPIX 5 she contracted COVID in late October. She fought for her life in a hospital for weeks before losing that battle on an ICU bed on November 25th.

“She was the best person that I could ever ask to call family. She always said to me that I brightened up her world,” said Andrew Louie.

The details of how she contracted COVID-19 are unclear.

Friend Carol Weidenbach helped Louie find abandoned dogs in Kern County and bring them to the Bay Area to loving homes.

She decorated her Christmas Tree this year with pictures of dogs they saved together, like she did with so many of her friends.

“She was just amazing. It was just second nature to her and she would always take the dogs that other people wouldn’t take,” said McAdam.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help her son Andrew, who is attending college and wants to follow his mom’s path as a nurse.

“I’m just gonna miss her. It’s really like a big chunk of me has been taken out,” said Andrew.

The community is rallying to support that GoFundMe account, which as of Friday evening has raised more than $85,000.