When Minnesota School of Business vet tech degree student Tiffany Theis reflected on her service learning project, she said, “This experience showed me that at any time something can happen . . . and I need to be ready to handle it in a calm and effective way.”
She had no idea that her instructor, Certified Veterinary Technician Jessica Ostendorf, was undergoing just such an encounter across town.
On her way to Central Minnesota Animal Care and Control in Sauk Rapids to assist her vet tech students in a project, Ostendorf saw a dog dart into traffic and get hit by a car. The driver did not stop, and Ostendorf immediately turned around to assist the animal.
The dog had managed to drag itself to the grassy median, but was badly hurt and bleeding. Another motorist, visibly upset, had also stopped, but Ostendorf assured her that she was a professional who would do all she could for the dog.
Ostendorf knew that a scared and wounded animal could become a biter, so she carefully secured the pet in a blanket and drove to the Emergency Veterinarian in Waite Park. As she watched the dog in the car, Ostendorf knew it had gone into shock.
Despite Ostendorf’s best efforts and gentle tending, the dog died by the time she arrived a few minutes later at the ER Vet.
Saddened, Ostendorf left her contact information with the vet in case the owner came looking for the dog, and she left for Sauk Rapids and CMACC again.
By strange coincidence, about an hour later, a man and his young daughter came into CMACC looking for their lost pet. They’d been searching for hours. Ostendorf gently asked for a description and the whereabouts of the missing dog, and sure enough, it was a match for the one she had tried to help.
She explained what had happened and that their pet had died, although she’d done everything she could to help. Visibly upset and shaken, they rushed off the ER Vet to reclaim their canine friend.
Jessica Ostendorf and friend at Tri-County Humane Society’s Woofstock 2012Another hour later, the father returned to CMACC to thank Ostendorf. The ER vet had done a fabulous job cleaning up the dog, creating a paw print for the family to keep, and providing them a copy of the Rainbow Bridge poem (an anonymous poem on pet loss). This closure was possible, he said, because of Ostendorf’s efforts, and their family was grateful.
Exhausted from the emotion of the day, Ostendorf left CMACC feeling relief that the family and dog were reunited, even if it wasn’t a perfect ending.
Yet the story wasn’t over!
The following Monday, when Ostendorf returned to Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud, she was included on an email from Admissions Representative, Ashley Hahn:
I just wanted to pass on a message from a graduate, Allison Tadych, (paralegal program) that works as the guidance office Admin Assistant at Tech HS. Her daughter’s dog was fatally hit by a car last week and the driver drove away after hitting the dog. One of our teachers from the Vet Tech program (she does not know a name) stopped and picked up the dog to take it to get emergency care. Allison wants to pass on the story to as many people as she can because she says she feels this shows our “We Care” motto in action. She is so appreciative and wanted to thank that individual again for going above and beyond.
Absolutely amazing! Thank you.
Clearly, Jessica Ostendorf not only embodies that We Care attitude, but serves as an incredible role model for her students as a compassionate—and consummate—professional.
Everyone can agree: this vet tech has angel wings!