Editor's note: The original version of this story read that Stan Kass filled the hole in his heart by adopting a dog named Reggie. It has since been changed to reflect that Kass and his wife had actually adopted the dog earlier in life.
When Stan Kass lost his beloved wife of 56 years to cancer last year, he filled the hole in his heart with his adopted dog named Reggie.
Now he’s opening doors to other hearts — for people and pets — with a $100 donation for every pet adopted at the Wisconsin Humane Society up to $100,000, said Angela Speed, spokesperson for the WHS.
"They say people help animals," Kass said in a recent WISN.com interview. "I think animals help people. I’m finding that out in the last year since my wife passed away."
Of his dog Reggie, who appeared in the interview with him, he said, "this is my buddy."
The buddy system is paying off in new adoptions, according to Beth Maresh, WHS Ozaukee Campus Director.
"Our adoption numbers are double what they were on the same days in the previous weeks," Maresh said. The Center has completed 1,311 adoptions already, a little over halfway through the year, compared to 1,088 adoptions for all of 2010.
The Milwaukee location of the WHS is still hoping to see a boost in adoptions, with 8,280 adoptions in 2010 and a close-to-comparable 4,356 adoptions so far in 2011.
At both locations, the WHS is offering 25% off adoptions until the program meets its goal of 1,000 adoptions.
Finding love and laughter in the words of a child
One family who heard about the program wasn’t sure they’d get another pet after their dog of 12 years, Brutus, passed away 8 months ago. Then they saw the story on Stan Kass’s donation.
"We decided, if we were going to do this, now would be a really good time to do it to help support the Humane Society," said Karin Hayes, whose family of four visited the Ozaukee Campus shelter twice before picking out a puppy they’ve since named Hazel.
"Brutus was such a dear pet … but we got through the grieving process and the (WHS) staff helped us choose the pet best for our family and our lifestyle," Hayes said, who borrowed a book on shy dogs from the WHS to help the family work with Hazel’s emerging personality.
After they brought Hazel home, Hayes got tears in her eyes when her young daughter said, "It’s so nice to hear the click of toenails on the floor again" — a heartfelt affirmation of the decision to adopt.
Donations that directly benefit the soon-to-be pets
Donated funds will be used for veterinary care to spay or neuter pets, and to administer vaccinations and microchips, Speed said. They will also support educational programming.
Both WHS campuses offer the public a choice of classes that cover topics such as teaching children compassion and respect for animals, Speed said. A list of classes at each location can be found via the links below.
Shoppers can visit either of the WHS locations in Milwaukee, 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., or Saukville, 630 W. Dekora St., to participate in the program. Available animals are also listed on the society's websites, and that information is updated every 30 minutes according to the WHS sites.