Tag Archives: Humane Society

Kay Brown

November 25, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Animal lover and volunteer Kay Brown isn’t one to shy away from hard work. Her busy life includes her job of working with disadvantaged teens, her yoga classes, her volunteer hours for the Nebraska Humane Society, and her horses.

Brown loves all animals, but one look around her rural Omaha home and visitors know which animal reigns supreme in her heart—the majestic horse. Of course.

“Yeah it doesn’t take long to know this lady loves horses,” Brown says referring to her living room. A quick glance around and you see horse pictures, horse lamps, horse statues, a horse calendar… oh, and by the front door is the obligatory horse riding equipment. Yes, Kay Brown is serious about her horses. She currently has two horses. One is hers and the other is a rescue horse that she is working to rehabilitate.

Brown first caught the horse bug when she was a young girl growing up on a farm outside of Flandreau, S.D. An older sister had a horse and Brown first started helping out and doing chores to care for the animal. It was then that she developed her work ethic.

“Being the youngest, I pretty much got all the jobs at the bottom of the rung,” she said.

Nowadays, Brown is used to being tapped to do, well, just about anything.

Early on at the first International Omaha, a world-class, worldwide horse jumping competition held each year at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, Brown became the go-to person for those in need.

“Kay can you…” was heard early and often there. Brown takes it all in stride and has the rare yet highly sought gift of always keeping her cool. Her jobs at the International have included giving tours to school kids and groups. She loves dealing with all the youngsters, especially the ones whose attention spans tend to drift. “I’m right there with them. I think they’re great,” she said of some of the groups.

Other times she’s playing chauffeur, taking out-of-towners around the city during their stay. Or she’ll just make the rounds to the different stalls, checking to see what the riders and their crews might need, fulfilling any last-minute requests for items that may have been forgotten or misplaced.

“It’s all different but I love it all,” she says. “It’s pretty much go, go for four days,
24 hours.”

And then there’s the job Brown often finds herself doing that isn’t for the sensitive of stomach or smell. With a sturdy “muck rake” Brown gets down and dirty and starts to shovel the…horse doo-doo.

“There’s a lot of it,” she says. “A single horse can produce 50 pounds a day.”

It’s a job that not everyone would be able to tackle with aplomb, but Brown does.

“I come from a family where you just help people,” Brown says with enthusiasm.

All the help and work also have a side benefit for the diminutive Brown. She stays in fantastic shape. A former fitness instructor and Tai Chi practitioner, Brown is becoming more “seasoned” rather than aging. Working with horses, doing chores, Brown isn’t going soft.

Don’t believe her? She’ll tell you to poke a finger at her rock-hard obliques.

“That’s from a lot of raking, a lot of throwing hay,” she says, explaining how she stays so fit. “It’s cross fit on the farm.”.

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Selfless Selfishness


January 11, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A recent visit to the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) found volunteer Chet Bressman deep into an adoption consultation with Sara Edwards, Amanda Hoffman, and a pup of questionable parentage named Nina. There had apparently just transpired a minor spat of sorts, and Bressman was setting things aright so that an interview could begin in earnest.

“No big problem,” Bressman explained. “It’s just that she was getting a little mouthy, and we had to…the dog…Nina…Nina was getting mouthy…not either of these nice young ladies,” the amiable Bressman sputtered as the women made an unsuccessful attempt to suppress giggles.

“Not only does he know the history of the Nebraska Humane Society, he is a vital part of that history. He’s played an important role in where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
— Pam Wiese, NHS Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing

Bressman was working adoption duties that day, but his other efforts over the last 15 years have included everything from building kennels to driving the PAW mobile adoption unit and more. His tireless dedication—60 hours a week of volunteering is not uncommon for him— led to him and his wife, Louise, being recognized by NHS with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Chet and Louise are fixtures here at the Nebraska Humane Society,” says Pam Wiese, the organization’s vice president of public relations and marketing. “Chet has been here so long and has put in an incredible number of hours. Not only does he know the history of the Nebraska Humane Society, he is a vital part of that history. He’s played an important role in where we’ve been and where we’re going.”

The couple, both longtime volunteers, met at NHS and dated for four years before being married over 10 years ago. “She came with all her papers and licenses in order,” Bressman quips.

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Bressman was part of the organization’s team that traveled to coastal Mississippi on an animal rescue mission in the devastating wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and he joined the ASPCA team for a similar trek to Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado wrought destruction on that town in 2011.

Bressman’s commitment to animals knows no geographic boundaries, but his heart, he says, will always be for the sprawling NHS complex near 90th and Fort streets.

“I want the Nebraska Humane Society to be the very first words people think of when it comes to new pets,” he says. “There are so many puppy mills and so much bad breeding out there, and we don’t put up any unhealthy animals for adoptions. It’s a win-win situation in every way. It’s a win for the animal, for the adopting family, and it’s a win for the community because every adoption opens a new space here for us to do it all over again.”

“He told us everything; the day the dog came in, where she was found, her health at the time. He knew absolutely everything about Nina. He’s a real adoption pro.”
— Sara Edwards

The Bressmans live with Golden Retriever Buddy (11) and cat Sophie (17). Last year they lost Gracie, but her memory lived on when NHS commissioned a caricature of the Golden Retriever for use as the official mascot of the nonprofit’s annual Walk for the Animals.

Back in the adoption room—one brightly painted in the hue of cheery sunflowers—Bressman was coaching Edwards and Hoffman on some of Nina’s special needs. The dog, a Boxer-Dalmatian mix, was born deaf, and that meant the learning of hand signals along with other tips.

“Fold your hands,” Bressman gently explained to Hoffman, but not before she playfully wiped some of Nina’s slobber onto Edwards’ sweater. “That’s right. Now turn away from Nina. You got it.”

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Safety was also paramount in the discussion because each woman, both recently divorced, had a young child at home. Neither of the kids knew that Nina—an early Christmas present—would be awaiting introductions when they returned from school that day.

“Chet was great to work with,” Edwards says. “He told us everything; the day the dog came in, where she was found, her health at the time. He knew absolutely everything about Nina. He’s a real adoption pro.”

“More like an adoption god,” adds Hoffman. “We couldn’t believe it when we learned he is a volunteer. He should have his own show on Animal Planet.”

“I knew that was going to be a good adoption. Nina is going to a good home with good people where she’ll get lots of love and care.”
— Chet Bressman

Bressman was equally happy with how Nina’s adoption unfolded. “I knew that was going to be a good adoption,” he says. “I always know. Nina is going to a good home with good people where she’ll get lots of love 
and care.”

And then Bressman admits that he, the seemingly selfless co-winner of such an august award as the Lifetime Achievement honor, secretly harbored the most selfish of motives in his interaction with Edwards, Hoffman, and Nina.

“Best of all, it’s a big win-win for me, too,” he beams. “That one made my day!”

Visit nehumanesociety.org for more on Nebraska Humane Society adoptions, programs, and events.