Nurse Goes Beyond Duty By Rescuing Hospitalized Patient’s Dog from Shelter

"He took a breath and asked me, 'Will you take care of Boomer?' And I said, 'Of course, John. I will find Boomer and take care of him for you,'" said the nurse.

Just after Thanksgiving, registered nurse Jennifer Smith received an early morning phone call from one of her favorite patients, John Burley. He was upset about his beloved dog, Boomer.

“I came into work the Monday after Thanksgiving to the phone ringing at 7 a.m.,” Smith told CNN. “John was calling from his hospital room saying, ‘Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is in the pound!’ Boomer is John’s world.”

Smith could tell that Burley was distraught and worried about Boomer’s future. “He took a breath and asked me, ‘Will you take care of Boomer?’ And I said, ‘Of course, John. I will find Boomer and take care of him for you,'” Smith told CNN.

Smith, who has been a nurse for 12 years, met Burley at the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Rome, New York, through its adult day health care program. Burley, 60, had adopted Boomer 12 years ago when he was just a puppy. Most of Burley’s family still lives in his home state of Arkansas, so when he was hospitalized for pneumonia and lung problems, he had no one to take care of his dog.

Smith says that she developed a friendship with Burley in the adult daycare program and he would often talk about Boomer, occasionally showing off pictures of his pup. “I couldn’t separate the two of them. I just couldn’t.”

Burley was not sure which shelter Boomer was in. Smith looked up nearby animal shelters and when she called the Rome Humane Society, she discovered he’d been taken there.

“I was a little panicked because I didn’t know how long he had been in the shelter or if he had already been adopted to another family. It’s Christmas time and people get animals,” she said. “I told John I have a 13-year-old dog myself who I’ve had since a puppy, so I fully understand the panic. It made my heart sad for him and Boomer.”

She drove to the shelter the next day and found 18-pound Boomer in a large cage in the back. Smith said, “OK, where are the adoption papers? I’m going to take him home.”

Boomer was not ready to be released just yet, but Smith called Burley to let him know she had found him. Boomer is now at Smith’s home, making friends with her dog.


“It was one less worry that John has, and he needs to focus on getting better and taking care of himself and know Boomer is in good hands,” Smith said.

While Burley is living in the rehabilitation wing of the center, Smith is able to bring Boomer to work with her. “It helps John with the healing process and gives him peace of mind,” Smith said.

Image source: CNN