Dina Colville was in the right place at the right time.
The place: Walgreens. The time: 8 p.m.
Colville stood in line in her paramedic's uniform, waiting to pay for laundry detergent before starting her shift with Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
"Excuse me," said another customer, his hands full of bandages and gauze, his face a mask of worry. "Do you know anything about dogs?"
Colville, a volunteer with Ruff Start Rescue, said that she knew a little.
"My dog got hit by a truck," the man told her. "He's out in my car. Would you come take a look?"
Of course she would.
Outside, Colville discovered a large dog lying in the backseat of a car, the man's girlfriend comforting the injured pup. The group used their phones to try to direct light on the dog's wounds, but it wasn't enough to give Colville a clear view.
"Can you follow me to work?" she asked.
A few minutes later, Colville opened the door to the ambulance bay. "There's a dog that's been hit by a car," she announced. "He needs help."
Her colleagues immediately got to work. "No one said, 'A dog?' They just came and started assessing and treating his injuries," Colville says. That didn't surprise her. "Helping is what we do. How can you not help someone in need?"
The dog — Duke — had large lacerations on one of his back legs and his groin. There were smaller wounds on his other legs and a purple tint to his abdomen. Even though Duke was likely scared and in pain, he was an excellent patient.
"I thought he might growl or bite, but it was like he knew we were there to help him," Colville says. "He was such a good boy."
It soon became clear that Duke would need more care than the team could provide. They began calling emergency vets for availability and eventually found one in Minneapolis — some 60-plus miles away — that said they might be able to see Duke within a few hours. The team helped get the wounded pup back in the car, gave his owners some bottles of water, and sent the little family on their way.
The next day, Colville reached out to Duke's owner for an update and learned that his care was on hold. It would cost $962 to treat the dog's injuries — money that the owner, a disabled vet on a fixed income, did not have.
Colville's caregiving instincts kicked in again. She reached out to her co-workers, explaining the situation. Could they help?
Of course they could.
"Individually, $962 is daunting," Colville says. "Together, not so bad. People chipped in $20, $30, $50. And in 12 hours we had enough to pay the bill." Colville reached back out to Duke's owner to let him know he could take Duke back to the vet for care.
"He was overwhelmed," Colville says. "He couldn't believe people who didn't know him would help him. He told me, 'You didn't just save my dog, you saved me. You restored my faith in humanity.'"
Colville says she and her colleagues were simply living their Mayo Clinic values.
"Caring for Duke was the right thing to do and all of us would do it again," Colville says. "Mayo teaches us to do what's right for your patient. In this case, our patient was a dog."
A month after his injuries, Duke is doing well. Colville has been in touch with his owner, who plans to bring Duke back to the ambulance bay to meet the team that cared for him.
"I feel like I was meant to be there that day to help Duke," Colville says. "It was a really special thing to be a part of."