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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

#BringCalHome: GoFundMe for students’ injured dog

<p>Calvin, a 7-month-old Great Dane-Labrador mix and an unofficial mascot for the UF women’s soccer team, was hit by a car on Nov. 22, 2015. Brooke Smith set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills, which doctors estimate will cost $10,000.</p>

Calvin, a 7-month-old Great Dane-Labrador mix and an unofficial mascot for the UF women’s soccer team, was hit by a car on Nov. 22, 2015. Brooke Smith set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills, which doctors estimate will cost $10,000.

It was halftime of the Florida soccer team’s NCAA Tournament loss to Duke University when Calvin was hit by a car.

Lauren Smith, a UF midfielder and political science senior, and her two roommates were playing when Smith’s mother received a phone call.

The 7-month-old Great Dane-Labrador mix had been hit by a car after he escaped their house through a window and wandered onto the street.

Smith’s twin sister Brooke set up a GoFundMe on Nov. 22 to help pay for Calvin’s medical bills, which doctors estimate will cost $10,000. It has since raised $7,746.

If they surpass their goal, the sisters said they will set up a fund for UF students who struggle to pay for veterinary fees.

"So many people are helping us, and we were like, ‘We need to help everyone else,’" Brooke, 22, said.

A former UF defender, Brooke was in the stands at Donald R. Dizney Stadium when her mother got the phone call from her daughters’ neighbor.

"She didn’t want to tell me," Brooke said. "I think I’ve cried for two days since I found out."

The fitness and wellness senior and her mother rushed to the scene of the crash, running a red light and breaking the campus speed limit.

When they reached the house, Brooke just wanted to know where her dog was.

"That was really the only thing I could think of," she said. "No one knew how bad it was. No one knew if he was gonna make it. We knew nothing."

After the loss to Duke, Brooke was joined at UF’s Small Animal Hospital by her sister and her roommates, including UF defender Christen Westphal and UF midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard.

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While Calvin has belonged to the twins for three months, he has become an unofficial mascot for the UF women’s soccer team. About 30 people were in the waiting room when they learned Calvin fractured his leg in two places and shredded bones in his paws.

Doctors estimated the dog’s medical bills would cost $10,000.

For Lauren and Westphal, the potential loss of their dog was harder than the loss in their final game at UF.

"We weren’t internalizing the loss or thinking about soccer," Lauren said. "We were thinking about Calvin — something bigger than all of us."

Later that night, Brooke created the fundraising page for her dog and expected no more than a couple hundred dollars.

"We woke up the next morning and I think we were at like 2 to 3 grand," she said. "Ten hours before, I didn’t even know what GoFundMe was."

It has since been shared on Facebook more than 500 times.

Heather McCabe, a UF alumna and dog owner, is one of the 246 people who have donated so far.

"It just pulled at my heartstrings seeing another dog hurt like that," said McCabe, who donated $50 last week.

For now, Calvin remains in the hospital, but doctors expect him to go home sometime this week.

"We were definitely lucky enough to have this overwhelming support," Lauren said. "I don’t know where Calvin would be right now without it."

Contact Martin Vassolo at mvassolo@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @martindvassolo

Calvin, a 7-month-old Great Dane-Labrador mix and an unofficial mascot for the UF women’s soccer team, was hit by a car on Nov. 22, 2015. Brooke Smith set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical bills, which doctors estimate will cost $10,000.

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