Animal Hero of the Month: Danielle Lindquist

A veterinary student is making a difference in the lives of shelter dogs and the elderly in North Carolina.

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The June 2014 winner of our Animal Hero of the Month award is Danielle Lindquist of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Canine Assisted Rehabilitation for the Elderly (C.A.R.E.) in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Being a college student comes with unique challenges, and advanced programs such as veterinary medicine can overwhelm a person’s life. Danielle not only excels in her academic career, but she also spends her free time training dogs and helping the elderly.

Of her upcoming profession, Danielle said “I am currently a dual degree DVM/Ph.D. candidate pursuing a degree in Pharmacology. This unique avenue of research allows me to build a basic biomedical knowledge that can be applied to help animals and humans. I get a chance to impact thousands of lives and work every day with clinicians and veterinarians who dedicate their lives to this profession, and I cannot wait to be a part of it!”

The Nomination

Danielle Lindquist’s nomination was sent in by Jennine Lection:

Danielle Lindquist is a second year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student at North Carolina State University, but it is how she spends her hours of free time that makes her stand out from her peers. Instead of relaxing on her weekends as other DVM students do, she spends her time working with Canine Assisted Rehabilitation for the Elderly, or C.A.R.E. North Carolina. C.A.R.E is a non-profit organization started by a local small animal veterinarian in 2011 that pairs pre-veterinary students with shelter dogs from the Wake County SPCA. These shelter dogs then go through training sessions with the students to become therapeutic visitors for the elderly at local senior living centers.

Danielle set the framework for this program to enable NCSU pre-veterinary students to volunteer to train the dogs as well as organize visits to local retirement homes. She was a pioneer in making this program a success in its infancy, and she did not leave the program behind as she graduated from her undergraduate studies and went on to pursue her DVM. Instead she became more involved, taking on the position of Volunteer Coordinator on top of all her studies. As the Volunteer Coordinator, Danielle completes the task of making sure each of the four retirement homes have a canine visitor every week. If a shelter dog is not yet fully trained, she makes sure there is a community alternate dog to visit the seniors. The impact that she makes is extremely evident by the way the seniors citizens congregate in the lobby area even before the dogs arrive, anxiously awaiting their canine visitors.

Honestly though, the most amazing part about Danielle is the drive and compassion she has toward the program. She understands that the training the dogs go through increases their adoptability potential. Many of the dogs in the C.A.R.E. program are adopted before they are even able to go on assisted living facilities visits. She understands the joy that the seniors citizens receive from the therapeutic canine visitors, demonstrated by how they light up and tell stories about dogs from their past. Lastly, she understands the impact that this experience has on pre-veterinary students in preparing for a veterinary education. So, while many other students spend their free time in other ways, Danielle selflessly makes an impact on students, senior citizens and shelter dogs every weekend in her community, one dog and one visit at a time.

Prizes

Here’s what all of our Animal Hero of the Month award winners get:

Winners will receive the Animal Hero of the Month medal and a $50 cash prize.

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on the list of winners
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon shipped to the winner
  • $50 cash award

 About Danielle’s Organization

Dr. Julianne Davis created Canine Assisted Rehabilitation for the Elderly (C.A.R.E.) after noticing the effect her dog, Chief, had on other people. She started bringing him to assisted living facilities with great success, and she expanded the program to help shelter dogs not only receive training to make them more adoptable, but also to bring joy and comfort to the elderly.

Wake County SPCA is the source of the shelter dogs taken into the C.A.R.E. program. Each dog is chosen by a behaviorist and veterinarian and evaluated to determine if they possess the traits desired to work in a therapeutic setting. Volunteers foster, adopt, train, bring dogs to the assisted living facilities and promote adoption of the dogs. Our animal hero this month is also a volunteer and has taken a very proactive role in the organization. Danielle enjoyed the program so much she found a way to create a partnership program with her school during her undergraduate studies. She has remained dedicated to the organization well into her DVM studies and continues to be an inspiration to those around her.

Danielle is also involved in another program. Second Chance Pet Adoptions is a non-profit animal rescue organization that has rescued stray or abandoned cats and dogs in the Triangle Area of North Carolina since 1987. Second Chance’s mission is to champion homeless cats and dogs who are healthy or treatable in the quest to find their forever home and engage the community in responsible pet ownership – ultimately reducing future generations of homeless animals.

Danielle and another veterinary student, Amy Fear, helped set up a working partnership with the NCSU-CVM Companion Animal Wellness Club and Veterinary Volunteer Service Club to send veterinary students twice a week to help Second Chance Staff while practicing physical exams, looking at cytologies and many other clinical skills new veterinarians will need in their futures. Becoming a veterinarian will undoubtedly increase Danielle’s role in this organization and others, as well as expose many more animals to her compassionate care and commitment.

Q&A With Danielle Lindquist

1. Danielle, what got you started helping animals?

My grandmother always had animals around the house, and I remember she was my first animal hero, rescuing several kittens during my childhood. She always had a love and respect of animals and passed that passion along to me.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

I was always a kid that could not just sit still, but going over to my grandmothers house I remember my grandmother reprimanding me for trying to chase and hug her cats. After three hours of many failed attempts, I sat on her chair watching television. Out of no where, her Himalayan named Nikki came and sat on my lap for the first and only time in his life!

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

I was 13 years old. We got my cat Tigger when he was 6 weeks old. He is now 11 and has lived with me through college and now currently while I am finishing up my doctorate in veterinary medicine degree at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

4. What is your favorite animal?

My favorite animal has always been a wolf. From their family mentality to the display of utmost loyalty, I have always had a passion for these animals. It doesn’t hurt that my alma mater’s mascot is also the Wolfpack!

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

I don’t think I will ever forget my family’s first dog Harley. Currently he is 10 years old and has taught my family a lot about patience, loyalty and when your pets start to get older, compassion and healing. It’s amazing what life lessons I have learned by being loved by a dog.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

I have only ever had 1 cat (Tigger) living with me at most, which seems strange since I am currently in training to become a veterinarian!

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

“Is it dinner time yet?!”

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

Without trying to be too cliche, I would love to find a way to help animals and their caretakers. I believe many, many people can be positively influenced by animals, whether that be through companionship, food and therapy animals among many other roles. Living with animals is a delicate balance, but one I believe everyone can benefit from. Giving back to the animals and the people facing hardships caring for them would be such an accomplishment.

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

Definitely as a very loved orange tabby. I could be happy with sleeping and lounging all day!

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

I hope I would be able to see any animal that impacted my life, and hopefully I had a positive impact on theirs. As a future veterinarian, I get a chance to change lives, make a difference not only to the animals, but also to those that love and care for them. The human animal bond is a powerful thing, and I am just grateful to be able to live for and promote it every single day.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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