Meet Linda Kringstad

RN Same Day Surgery, Bismarck Medical Center

When a new nurse joined the surgery team at the Bismarck Medical Center, Linda Kringstad had a special greeting for her.

“The first thing I told her was I volunteer at the pound. Then, I asked if she needed a cat or a dog. And she actually said yes,” Linda says.

And just like that, Linda found a loving home for a shelter cat.

Linda is a passionate and dedicated animal rescue volunteer in Bismarck, North Dakota. She’s co-founded her own rescue, recruited new volunteers, raised funds, collected donations, walked and bathed dogs, petted cats, promoted available animals on Facebook, walked in parades and more.

Many of Linda’s coworkers have joined in her volunteer efforts at local shelters and other nonprofits in the community.

“It’s not just me. I’m just the catalyst, if you will. If I need a volunteer for something, I’ll ask and get 20 volunteers,” Linda says. “All I have to do is ask.”

A big part of her animal activism is raising funds and collecting donations. She says everyone finds something to give, and she uses whatever people bring her. This includes money, food, treats, blankets, towels, beds, gauze, nightlights and more.

“To the people who don’t like cats or dogs, I’ll say why don’t you donate to spay and neuter, then?” she says.

Linda has volunteered with animal rescue groups in Bismarck for over 30 years. She’s worked with all the local organizations, but her primary focus now is with the animal impound operated by the Bismarck Police Department.

At all of the shelters, her main goal is to decrease an animal’s stress and get them adopted. With dogs, a lot of her time is taken up by walks.

“I like to exercise, so I enjoy walking them. There could be 10 dogs at the pound at once and each dog gets a 20-minute walk. It’s a lot,” she says. “You’d think I’d be skinny.”

Linda is an ardent believer that volunteering with animals helps the volunteer as much as it does the animals.

“When you come out there and take care of something, it helps you too. You’re not getting paid for it, but you’re getting paid in kind with how much better you feel after taking care of an animal,” Linda says.

One of her recent success stories involves a pit bull terrier. He growled at anyone who came near his kennel and seemed to be a bite risk. Linda sat outside his door (on a stool that had been donated by her Same Day Surgery unit) and talked to him for an hour.

The next day, the once-terrified pit bull was happily playing with the other dogs and humans, on his way to being ready for a forever home.

These experiences helping animals at the pound can sometimes translate to helping patients at work.

“I tell new nurses that if they have a grumpy old man as a patient who seems mean, he’s not mean. He’s just scared like that pit bull. If you talk to him, you’ll get him to relax,” she says.

When handling patients with a needle phobia, she also uses this philosophy.

“We had a woman who was terrified of getting an IV placed. Everyone expected her to panic. I said I’d go talk to her, and when I talk to patients, there’s one thing we can almost always talk about,” Linda says.

She asked the woman if she had any pets. While the woman gushed about her dog, Buster, Linda stealthily inserted the IV.

“She was like, how did you do that?” Linda says.

As a pet owner herself (Linda currently has two pooches), she’s experienced the benefits of owning pets firsthand.

“Basically, they’re great companions full of unconditional love,” she says.

Linda illustrates the proof of a pet’s love with a joke.

“Let’s say you lock your husband and your dog in the trunk of a car for a few hours,” she said. “Who’s happy to see you when you let them out?”