(CNN) — Good people, not to mention good tippers, do exist. Christina Summitt knows that for sure now after what happened Saturday night.
The paw-print tattoo on Summitt’s wrist often leads to conversations with strangers about her love of animals; she’s a volunteer with a pit bull rescue group and spends lots of time finding homes for animals of all kinds.
While tending bar at the Holiday Inn in Clinton, New Jersey, Summitt got to chatting with a friendly couple before the night got busy. The man asked her if she had dogs of her own; she confided that her “baby,” a Great Dane-black Labrador mix named Tucker, was at the veterinary hospital after having emergency surgery hours earlier after he swallowed a hard plastic ball. She was worried about him.
The man said something about surgery being expensive. She confided the estimate was around $2,700, but she would do whatever she had to do for the dog, whom she adopted in 2011. Summitt, 37, works three jobs — full-time as a chef at the hotel, Saturdays as a bartender, and as a food prep worker two days a week at a deli in her town. Her husband works full-time and Summitt has three stepchildren.
The couple ordered drinks and dinner at the bar. When it was time to close out their $80 tab, the man filled out the receipt with a tip — for $1,000.
Summitt said she started shaking and crying. She showed the bill to her sister, who tends bar with her, to make sure she was seeing three zeros after the 1.
“I went back over and said ‘Sir, I cannot accept this, what is this for, why would you do this?'” she said. He told her to put it toward Tucker’s medical costs.
“I just stood there in shock. I walked around and hugged this couple. They said, ‘We’ll be praying for Tucker.'”
Hotel manager Michelle Satanik told CNN she followed up with her comptroller and also tracked down the customer this week to verify that the gesture was legitimate. CNN has attempted to contact the generous tipper through Summitt, who kept his name anonymous for his privacy.
“Apparently this man does this quite frequently. Just a really nice guy and humanitarian,” Satanik said. “I have never ever seen a $1,000 tip like that.”
Summitt shared the story on Facebook and CNN iReport with a photo of the credit card slip and a picture of Tucker being held by her 16-year-old stepson before they left the dog at the hospital for surgery. A Facebook page she follows called “Why Bartenders and Servers Hate People” reposted the story on Easter Sunday with this caption: “This is a place for us to vent but every so often, especially on holidays, we have to be thankful for the amazing customers that are out there.”
Summitt says she’s since gotten messages of support from all over the world.
“I would also love nothing more than to publicly thank this couple in front of the world. I’ve never seen a random act give so many people so much hope,” she wrote.
Tucker is recovering at home.