Tag Archives: Nebraska Humane Society

One Cool Cat

August 22, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“She brings the girls and the cat to me—I was the vice principal,” Jerry Meyer says. “I say, ‘I am going to take the cat, she’ll stay in my office. I am going to call Mom and see what she wants to do.’”

Moments prior, twin girls who attended Meyer’s school, Minne Lusa Elementary, found a gray, long-haired tabby cat near the bus stop. The students tried their best to hide the cat in their coat on the way into the school, Meyer says, but one of the other faculty members noticed the cat and sent the girls and their new friend to the vice principal’s office.  

Unfortunately, the family could not take in the cat, so Meyer decided to give her to the Nebraska Humane Society, where his colleague Nicki Nixon volunteered. Meyer says that NHS was Nixon’s love. She spent almost as much time at NHS as she did teaching.

Meyer says he deliberated his decision for a while, but he eventually adopted the cat. He named her Mrs. Slocombe after the Easter egg-haired, cat-loving saleswoman on “Are You Being Served?” one of his favorite British television shows. Meyer and Mrs. Slocombe would be close companions for the next 17 years.

After 31 years as an educator for Omaha Public Schools, Meyer wanted to spend his free time giving back to the community. He thought about volunteering at The Durham Museum or Fontenelle Forest, but then he remembered Nixon’s love for NHS and decided to apply to be a volunteer. The decision was poignant because Nixon had passed away shortly after Mrs. Slocombe.

Meyer has volunteered at NHS for about nine years and is close to accumulating 1,800 hours helping animals, specifically cats.

Jerry Meyer at the Nebraska Humane Society.

Jerry Meyer at the Nebraska Humane Society.

Meyer volunteers for roughly eight hours a week, and says he works with four or five other volunteers. They are responsible for feeding the cats, changing the litter in their boxes, and cleaning their kennels.

“Some of the cats we have had close to one year, so we go out of our way to give them extra grooming, playtime, and treats,” Meyer says. “We can take them into a small, enclosed room and hang out with them. Those are the things that I enjoy about volunteering.”

Meyer says the Nebraska Humane Society was the perfect fit for him, because it allowed him to combine the nurturing aspects of being a teacher with his love of animals.

“I think it is the nurturing and caring,” Meyer says. “When you are a teacher those [students] become your kids and you care about what happens to them—the same thing with the animals. You’re really happy when they get adopted.” 

Volunteering at NHS isn’t without its challenges. Meyer says it can be difficult to see cats come in that have experienced abuse. Whether it is a kitten with a missing eye or a cat whose owner has passed away, each one has its own story.  

Meyer says one of his favorite memories is when he was working with a cat who wouldn’t eat. He made it his “personal mission to get the cat to eat.” Meyer started hand-feeding him chicken, and for a while he was the only one who could get the cat to eat. When Meyer can do something like that for an animal, it helps them, and it makes him feel good. 

“I am happy,” Meyer states. “This is doing something that I couldn’t make a living off of. I think most people who volunteer would understand that it really is, [as with] me, a sense of purpose. I feel like I am making a difference.”

Visit nehumanesociety.org for more information.

This article was printed in the 60+ section of the September 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Jerry Meyer, Nebraska Humane Society

Jerry Meyer (and cat) at the Nebraska Humane Society.

Dinosaurs to Dogs

February 21, 2019 by

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Red daspletosaur from Dino Uproar at Lauritzen Gardens

Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, March 7: You have just two nights to experience the dinosaurs as they were meant to be observed—slightly tipsy and in a festive environment. (Though that depends on your preference, really.) If that sounds like a good time to you, plan on heading to Lauritzen Gardens tonight for Adult Only Dino Night. Who doesn’t want to hang out with a red daspletosaur at the end of a long, cold, work week? And if you can’t make it out this weekend, keep the next one on your radar! Escape the outdoor ice age—dig up more details here.

A flight of beers on a board

Thursday, Feb. 21 to Monday, Feb. 25: Catch the tail end of Omaha Beer Week this weekend. There’s still plenty going on, starting at 11 a.m. today (depending on where you go). The party doesn’t stop until Monday, with a final day of rest at St. Andrew’s Pub. From book club to bingo, whatever you love doing, Beer Week has an event for you. Or you can try them all, as long as you have a pint in your hand. No matter where you live, there’s likely to be something going on close to you. Track down all the events here to maximize your weekend of beer.

Gregory Popovich, dressed in clown face, with a cat on the left and a dog on the right

Friday, Feb. 22: Want a unique experience you can tell your friends about? Enter the three-ring-circus world of former Moscow Circus veteran Gregory Popovich as he keeps you laughing and keeps his performing pets on their toes (sometimes literally). The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is an entertainment event the whole family, happening Friday night only at The Arts Center. With world-class jugglers and over 30 pets, your eyes won’t get a break from all the action. Get tickets to this performance extravaganza hereEtienne Charles playing a trumpet

Friday, Feb. 22: Some say jazz is dead—Etienne Charles no doubt would disagree. Let him persuade you when you attend his performance at Scott Recital Hall. This 20-something artist, composer, arranger, and assistant professor of jazz studies (natch) from Trinidad is opening ears and minds by blending his musical roots with traditional American jazz. If you want to hear what all the fuss is about, get your tickets here.

Illustration of red chicken weather vane with text

Saturday, Feb. 23: The UNO Theatre Department’s Connections Series, a collaboration with the Great Plains Theatre Conference, is bringing Colonel’s Chicken: A Fairy Tale to Omaha. The concept behind this new series is a collaborative production each season with another local arts organization. This dark comedy from Carrie Barrett is about Demi, a young woman who wanders into a Colonel’s Chicken restaurant looking for comfort-food solace after being dumped. What happens next is both dreary and wacky and based on a true story. Learn more here.

Four dogs on leashes sitting in grass

Sunday, Feb. 24: Start the weekend with dinosaurs, end it with the somewhat more cuddly creatures at Taylor Made Rescue Rally at the Nebraska Humane Society. Rescues will be set up throughout the shelter and will have adoptable animals with them. Not sure if you want to adopt? Or what type of animal/breed would be compatible with your lifestyle? There will be education opportunities and the chance to meet different breeds so you can find out. From kitties to boxers to Boston terriers, you’ll have the opportunity to meet just the right new pet for you. Yappy Pack will be serving food, so even if you’re just browsing, come out for a bite (the good kind!) and all proceeds go to NHS. For more information…squirrel!


Selfies and Selflessness

December 6, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Thursday, Dec. 6 to Sunday, Dec. 9: You know it’s that time—that time when we get to combine good times with doing good. The Toy Drive for Pine Ridge Winter Benefit has a long history of doing that. This year they are taking the show on the road to the Zoo Bar in Lincoln on Thursday night. On Saturday, you have the chance to see two shows, one at Reverb Lounge and/or one at Waiting Room (it’s up to you). If you can’t make it out that night, you can still help out on Sunday. In the morning, you can catch the Pacific Street Blues & Americana 28th anniversary celebration at Reverb as they host the toy drive’s radio show on 89.7 The River. This event is free, but donations are encouraged. Make it an all-day Sunday funday by heading to Chrome Lounge that afternoon, where you can see five different bands play throughout the evening, including toy drive founder Larry Dunn’s band, Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns (also playing on Saturday). Head here for more information and to donate if you are a hermit who doesn’t want to leave the house.

Thursday, Dec. 6 to Sunday, Dec. 9: Ever since the U.S men won their first gold medal in curling, a “curling craze” has swept the country, including right here in Omaha. Are you one of those people who can’t get enough of this ancient Scottish sport? Head to Ralston Arena to watch the Curling World Cup. Omaha is the second stop in the four leg series. Get your tickets here now.

Saturday, Dec. 8, and Friday, Dec. 14 to Saturday, Dec. 15: It’s a family affair at the at the Union for Contemporary Art this weekend and next, where you can see Nested, a gentle and non-verbal play specifically for children 6 and younger with their families. This play explores family, love, and separation and includes live music, audience participation, and a 10-foot nest the audience is encouraged to experience. This weekend’s Friday performance sold out, so get your tickets here soon! Not sure what all the kerfuffle is about? Check out our story on the artistic director of Kerfuffle, Ashley Laverty here.

Saturday, Dec. 8: We know how hard it is to get a good picture of your pet, so no promises—but you will no doubt get some fun pictures at the Selfies with Santa event at the Nebraska Humane Society this Saturday. Bring your own camera or smartphone to capture that (potentially hilarious) moment. NHS volunteers will be available to assist with your pets and to take your pictures if you’re not so good at the selfie thing. Donations will be accepted onsite. Please remember, it might sound fun to adopt a pet for the holidays, but it’s also a responsibility—think and plan accordingly. Human babes are also welcome at this event, btw. Learn more about it here, and make a donation here.

Sunday, Dec. 9: Were you afraid you missed it? Don’t worry. The German-American Society’s Christmas in Germany was postponed last week due to weather, so you can still head out to celebrate the best of German traditions. Singing, dancing, live music, and of course, a visit from St. Nikolaus are all on the schedule. Mid-America Woodcarvers & M.I. Hummel Club is displaying their wares, and Christkindlmarkt will be on hand, selling Christmas decorations, gifts, and tasty treats. Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration without food! Waltz on over here for more information.


Final Dog Days of Summer

September 20, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Saturday, Sept. 23: Puppies and pumpkins? Why not? Take your pup to Dog Day at the Pumpkin Patch at Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch in Blair. Doggie admission of $5 will benefit the Nebraska Humane Society. Regular admission will apply for you humans. Be sure your pups are dressed for success in the doggie costume contest. The contest takes place in the morning, with all the regular fall fun happening throughout the day. Check out the Rolling Racers, Jack O’ Shooter, Frankenslide, and numerous other attractions. There’s plenty of food on hand as well, so make a day of it and end the night with a bonfire. Learn more here.

Thursday, Sept. 20: Get an early start on tailgating this weekend at the Midlands Humane Society “Tail”gate. While there’s no stadium involved, you can take a tour of the facility, learn about volunteer opportunities, and (best of all) spend time with the beautiful critters. This event is put on by the young professionals group, Impact CB. Parking is somewhat limited, so get your friends together and carpool on over. Find out more here.

Friday, Sept. 21: Don’t miss the inaugural show at The Hug Center, a new arts-focused community event space on 25th and Harney streets. Bang, Bang will showcase work by several talented artists, some well-known and others brand-new (check out 10-year-old Finn Michael Bainbridge) to the Omaha art scene. Music by Dojorok and Cult Play will help set the mood. A food truck will be on hand and beverages from Brickway Brewery & Distillery will also be available for the 6-10 p.m. event to provide you with ample sustenance as you peruse the gallery and meet the artists. Get the full rundown here.

Saturday, Sept. 22: Can’t wait to find out who’s up for an OEAA nomination this year? Well, you don’t have to because the wait is over. Head to the OEAA Nominee Reveal Party at Hi-Fi House this Saturday and be one of the first in the know. Cheer on your favorites as their names are announced live. here.

Saturday, Sept. 22: The fall equinox marks the official end of summer this Saturday, so feel free to start settling in to Halloween anticipation mode with Midwest Masquerade at The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge. This annual event combines the winsome, electric vibe of a music festival with the elegant, mysterious feel of a traditional masquerade ball. The headlining artists are String Theory Music and Hyddin, with many more talented artists rounding things out. Formal attire (with mask!) is highly recommended for this 18 and over affair. Get your tickets here.

Nebraska Humane Society

August 15, 2018 by

Mission Statement

The Nebraska Humane Society protects, enriches, and saves the lives of animals in the communities we serve.

Wish List

  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Canned cat food
  • Vienna sausages
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned Tuna 
  • Soft dog treats 
  • Kong Toys
  • Peanut Butter
  • Kitty Wand Toys

Upcoming Events

  • Walk for the Animals and 5K Run
    Sept. 30, 2018
  • Come “Wine” With Us
    Dec. 1, 2018 
  • Dining with Dogs
    April 29, 2019


The Nebraska Humane Society is a world class facility offering safety and care for animals in our community who need our help. NHS also provides animal control services to Omaha and all of Sarpy County, upholding the laws enacted for the protection of people and animals.  As an open entry shelter, we don’t turn anyone away who needs a place to go. Ever. We provide education, encourage adoptions, and promote responsible pet care for our community.

Brag Lines

In 2016 NHS:

  • Adopted out 11,097 pets
  • Spayed/neutered 6,414 dogs and cats
  • Performed 1,549 specialized surgeries
  • Fostered 2,068 animals in 241 foster homes
  • Provided behavior help to 3,197 callers 

NHS also returned nearly 3,000 pets to their owners; offered low-cost training classes, spays, and neuters; offered a free pet food pantry; was a safe haven for animals of domestic violence; and provided pet safety and animal care presentations to schools across the metro.

Pay it Forward

NHS is a private nonprofit corporation. Animal Control is funded through the cities who contract for those services, but all shelter programs including rehabilitating and rehoming of animals are funded through private donations. Our volunteers donate time and talent to walk dogs, enrich cats, counsel for adoptions, help market pets, and foster those needing TLC in their homes!

Your help becomes hope when you donate:

  • In honor or memory 
  • Monthly
  • Planned giving 
  • Corporate sponsorships
  • Details at nehumanesociety.org 

Nebraska Humane Society

8929 Fort St.
Omaha, NE 68134

The Big Give was published in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Saving Animals, Chasing Penguins

May 3, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As the dedicated diamond buyer for Borsheims, it’s not surprising that Heather Ingraham travels all over the world. She even went to the Falkland Islands recently—but not to inspect precious gems—to look at penguins.

Ingraham, 38, credits her job for inspiring her dedication to animal conservation. It all started with a Zoofari fundraiser for the Henry Doorly Zoo at her work in 2011.

Zoo ambassadors were walking around Borsheim’s luxury salon with animals (penguins, snakes, and bullfrogs). “I was having an amazing time speaking with the keepers, learning about the animals, and one of the keepers at one point told me that I could be doing this, too,” she says.

Since that encounter, Ingraham began volunteering at the zoo almost every Saturday. She gives presentations to the public, assists keepers, and feeds birds, snakes, and rodents.

Her devotion to animal welfare doesn’t stop there. Ingraham also volunteers with Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, an organization that receives injured and abandoned wildlife from the public.

She even keeps some of those animals in her home, including bats. 

“I’m really involved with the bats in the winter,” says Ingraham, who kept 40 bats over the past winter. “They’re supposed to be hibernating. There’re not enough bugs out for them to eat, so we can’t release them.”

If a bat gets in your home during any time of the year, she urges you not to harm it. Call the Nebraska Humane Society instead for a free removal. She says the nocturnal creatures are highly effective pollinators that keep the mosquito population in check to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.

Volunteers like Ingraham keep the bats at home in small containers, feeding them so they gain sufficient weight to hibernate. When the weather warms in spring, they release 200-400 bats at a public event held outside Joslyn Art Museum.

On top of that, she is a Nebraska Humane Society foster parent. Her colleagues call her the “critter foster parent” for taking in all the animals that are not dogs and cats—i.e, rats, gerbils, etc.

Penguins, however, are Ingraham’s obsession.

“I love all birds. I’ve seen close to 600 species of birds,” she says. “It’s just that…penguins hold a special place in my heart. They’re just so comical. They are very devoted parents, and they’re just so different from each other.”

Ingraham has seen penguins in South Africa, Chile, and the Galápagos Islands. Her goal is to see every species of penguin in the wild. She’s currently seen seven. (The nonprofit organization BirdLife International says there are 18 penguin species.)

The Falkland Islands are a popular summer nesting ground for penguins, so Ingraham traveled there in February to take a land-based trip, which allows visitors to see the birds up close. That’s about all the trip entailed. Just watching penguins. No guided tours or other activities.

It was a dream come true for Ingraham. “I saw thousands and thousands of penguins,” she says. “I was surprised at how close I was able to get up to them.”

Lest you think it sounds like a cold trip, the Falklands get very little snow. “They’re actually just kind of in grassy areas,” she says of the flightless birds. “You would see a penguin next to a sheep.” Sheep farming is a popular industry on the British territory in the south Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the diamond buyer’s philanthropic work has also benefited her employer. In fact, as a result of her participating in a baby rhino rescue in South Africa in 2016, Ingraham helped design Borsheims’ Kalahari Dream Diamond Rhino Pendant (an 18-carat gold necklace with a rough diamond selling for $550) with a portion of proceeds going to help Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa where she had volunteered.

Ingraham has many other plans for the future. She’ll be working with bats in Malawi this summer, and besides seeing the rest of the penguin species, she hopes to hug a whale in Mexico, go on a mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda, and work with wallabies in Australia.

“With my involvement at the zoo and volunteering, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming,” she says. “But I want to do everything I possibly can. I want to live a life of education, adventure, and generosity.”

Visit nebraskawildliferehab.org, nehumanesociety.org, and omahazoo.com for more information about the local organizations where Ingraham volunteers.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

July/August 2017 Giving Calendar

July 7 (7-10 p.m.)
Ales for Tails
Benefitting: Nebraska Humane Society
Location: Bärchen

July 8 (8-11 a.m.)
5K Superhero Run and Post Race Party
Benefitting: CASA for Douglas County
Location: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing

July 10 (11:30 a.m.)
24th Annual Golf Classic
Benefitting: Keep Omaha Beautiful
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

July 13 (6:30 p.m.)
Links to a Cure Golf Gala
Benefitting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista

July 14 (8:30 a.m.)
Links to a Cure Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Location: Arborlinks Golf Course

July 15 (5-11 p.m.)
Relay for Life of Greater Omaha
Benefitting: American Cancer Society
Location: Stinson Park at Aksarben Village

July 16 (noon-3 p.m.)
ULN Guild Men Who Cook
Benefitting: Urban League of Nebraska
Location: OPS Administrative Building Cafeteria

July 25 (6 p.m.)
Hope in the Heartland Gala
Benefitting: American Cancer Society
Location: Stinson Park in Aksarben Village

July 28 (6-9:30 p.m.)
Screw Cancer Fundraiser 2017
Benefitting: Cancer Alliance of Nebraska
Location: Omaha Country Club

July 29 (6:30-11 p.m.)
2017 Blue Water Bash
Benefitting: Boys Town Okoboji Camp
Location: Boys Town Okoboji Camp, Milford, Iowa

July 29 (8-10:30 a.m.)
Omaha Head for the Cure (HFTC) 5K
Benefitting: Head for the Cure Foundation
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing

July 29 (9-11 a.m.)
The Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer
Benefitting: PurpleStride Omaha
Location: Sinson Park at Aksarben Village

July 29 (1:30-10 p.m.)
Golf 4 Lungs
Benefitting: New Hope 4 Lungs
Location: Eagle Hills Golf Course

July 31 (11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.)
Help Build a House Golf Event
Benefitting: Gesu Housing
Location: Champions Run

July 31 (1-6 p.m.)
Swing 4 Kids Golf Benefit
Benefitting: Partnership 4 Kids
Location: Tiburon Golf Course

Aug. 4 (5-9 p.m.)
New American Arts Festival
Benefiting: Lutheran Family Services
Location: Benson First Friday, 60th-62nd and Maple streets

Aug. 4 (6-10 p.m.)
Dance for a Chance
Benefitting: Youth Emergency Services
Location: Omaha Design Center

Aug. 4 (6-11 p.m.)
River Bash N Brew
Benefitting: Visiting Nurses Association
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing

Aug. 5 (6-9 p.m.)
10th Annual Nebraska Walk for Epilepsy
Benefitting: Lifestyle Innovations for Epilepsy
Location: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing

Aug. 5 (8 a.m.-noon)
Spirit of Courage Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Dodge Riverside Golf Club

Aug. 5 (6-10 p.m.)
Spirit of Courage Gala
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Mid-America Center

Aug. 5 (6-9 p.m.)
Jefferson House “Stand Up for Kids” Comedy Night
Benefitting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Fremont Golf Club

Aug. 6 (noon)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament
Benefitting: Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center
Location: Mid-America Center

Aug.10 (7 a.m.-1 p.m.)
18th Annual Release Ministries Bill Ellett Memorial Golf Classic
Benefitting: Release Ministries
Location: Iron Horse Golf Club, Ashland, Nebraska

Aug. 11 (9 a.m.-noon)
Step Out for Seniors Walk-A-Thon
Benefitting: Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging
Location: Benson Park

Aug. 12 (8:30 a.m.)
HETRA’s Little Britches Horse Show
Benefitting: Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy
Location: HETRA, Gretna, Nebraska

Aug 12 (5:30 p.m.)
11th Annual Summer Bash for Childhood Cancer
Benefitting: Metro Area Youth Foundation
Location: Embassy Suite La Vista Convention Center

Aug. 13 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Vintage Wheels at the Fort
Benefitting: Douglas County Historical Society
Location: Historic Fort Omaha

Aug 14 (11 a.m.)
QLI Golf Challenge
Benefitting: QLI Tri-Dimensional Rehab
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

Aug. 18 (6-10 p.m.)
Exposed: Voice
Benefitting: Project Pink’d
Location: Hilton Downtown

Aug. 19 (day-long)
Benefitting: Brush Up Nebraska
Location: Various

Aug. 19 (8 a.m.)
JDRF One Walk
Benefitting: JDRF Heartland Chapter
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing

Aug. 20 (7-11 a.m.)
Boxer 500 Run and Walk
Benefitting: Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force
Location: Werner Park

Aug. 20 (7:30 a.m., end times vary)
Corporate Cycling Challenge
Benefitting: Eastern Nebraska Trails Network
Location: Heartland of America Park
— showofficeonline.com/CorporateCyclingChalleng

Aug. 21 (2-4 p.m.)
Grow with Us Gala
Benefitting: City Sprouts
Location: Metro Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts

Aug. 22 (11:30 a.m.)
Annual Golf Classic
Benefitting: Methodist Hospital Foundation
Location: Tiburon Golf Club

Aug. 24 (5:30-10 p.m.)
120th Anniversary of the Summer Fete
Benefitting: Joslyn Castle Trust
Location: Joslyn Castle lawn

Aug. 25 (5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Wine & Beer Event
Benefitting: ALS in the Heartland
Location: The Shops of Legacy

Aug. 26 (5-10 p.m.)
Gala 2017
Benefitting: Papillion-La Vista Schools
Location: TBD

Aug. 26 (5:30 p.m.)
Red, White & Madonna Blue
Benefitting: Madonna School
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha

Aug. 26 (6-9 p.m.)
Mission: Possible
Benefitting: Angels Among Us
Location: Hilton Hotel downtown

Aug. 28 (11 a.m.)
10th Annual Jesuit Academy Golf Tournament
Benefitting: Jesuit Academy Tuition Assistance Fund
Location: Indian Creek Golf Course

Aug. 28 (noon)
19th Annual Goodwill Golf Classic
Benefitting: Goodwill’s Real Employment Assisting You (READY) & Business Solutions Programs
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

Aug. 28 (11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Golf Outing Invitational Fundraiser
Benefitting: Open Door Mission
Location: Oak Hills Country Club

Professional Pets

May 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some of the names spoken about at the marketing firm Envoy might seem unorthodox: Adam, Steve, Stella … and Butter? These names don’t belong to people, but to a pair of Devon rex cats, a French bulldog/pug, and a mini goldendoodle. Dentists have kept tropical aquariums in their waiting rooms for generations, but expanding a workplace’s pet-tential is far more common than that.

Penny Hatchell and Kathy Broniecki have owned Envoy for 13 years, producing materials for clients as varied as Hiland Dairy, Boys Town, and Max I. Walker Cleaners. The decision to allow pets in the office came from the desire to create a flexible and welcoming work environment: “We love to come to work, and we want our employees to come to work,” Broniecki explains. The decision seems to be working for them: “There’s a much greater overall wellness to the office—our quality and productivity has improved, and it keeps things light.”

Kathy Broniecki’s French bulldog/pug, Stella, comes to the office daily.

The animals are great for keeping employees happy, or helping employees who have a bad day cheer up.

“This has been studied and we can see that animals have value in emotional therapy, or to be assistant animals in places like nursing homes,” says Teresa T. Freeman, a therapist in Omaha. “They have noticed a positive effect in studies pets have on people in isolated situations to help boost their mood, wellness, and even improve physiology—things like heart rate, blood pressure, and other stress responses.”

The cats were rescued and considered part of Envoy, while the dogs and a hedgehog are others’ personal pets.

Broniecki says the company is reasonable about how having pets around can affect productivity, too: “It’s natural to get distracted at work, and focusing too hard can just make things worse. Getting by distracted by the pets is a much more positive outlet than other options,” Broniecki says.

Perhaps the greatest boon to Envoy has been the camaraderie the animals’ presence has built. “One stormy day,” Broniecki says, “Adam the cat went missing. It became an all-hands-on- deck situation in that moment trying to find him.” Everyone keeps treats on their desks for them, and when the dogs arrive in the morning, they make sure to greet every employee first thing, desk by desk. Hatchell, who takes the cats home with her when the day is over, adds: “even over the holidays, I’ll get texts asking how they’re doing, and even requesting pics.”

That camaraderie is a common bond between employees and furry friends, and can be a way to connect with shyer clients or new staff members.

“It breaks down barriers,” Freeman says. “People may not be comfortable with where they’re at emotionally, or isolated.”

Envoy’s office cat Adam, is a rescue cat.

Envoy is not alone in enjoying the pet perks. At J.A. McCoy CPA (located off 90th and Maple streets) Julie McCoy, in partnership with her rescue dog JoJo, tackles that lightning rod of stressful situations—taxes. McCoy has kept a dog at work since day one of starting her firm. “We work a lot of long hours, and dealing with taxes and estates is often not a fun experience. But with JoJo here, people look forward to coming in,” she says. Like at Envoy, McCoy has seen the same positive influence in her office: “Clients love it–we get a lot of business by word of mouth because of JoJo.” And of course, employees are encouraged to have play time. “We’re doing stuff that requires a lot of concentration, so it’s good to have a break.”

Pam Wiese, V.P. of public relations for the Nebraska Humane Society, also believes that having pets in the office can do wonders to reduce stress. “Focusing on something that isn’t another person, like the nurturing qualities of animals, can help calm people down.” Pets, she says, provide an element of levity that certainly has value in defusing tense work scenarios. She brings her own dog to work every day, but cats, fish, and even critters can all contribute. “We once had a bearded dragon here in the office. He’d sit out on his rock and sunbathe while people came to visit him over their lunches,” Wiese says. Though the NHS has not made any concerted push to get animals into offices, they have had their share of interested parties looking to adopt. “We’re happy to work with people to find an animal for them,” she says, “as long as it’s an appropriate situation.”

There are certainly many factors to weigh before introducing a pet into your own office. “Animals need to be comfortable,” Weise says. If the conditions aren’t safe or comforting for the pet, that opens up the opportunity for additional problems, like becoming loud or aggressive. If you’re going to have a pet, they will need to have their own private space and occasionally training to cope with many active people surrounding them. There’s also the human factor to consider: not everyone is an animal lover. “You’ll need to be considerate of the phobias, allergies, and even prejudices of the people passing through your workplace.”

McCoy, Broniecki, and Hatchell were all able to speak to experiences with clients that turned sour because of their furry compatriots, but also noted that they were few and far between. “Only one client of ours didn’t want to come to the office because we had cats,” Hatchell explains. Similarly, McCoy shared that she did have clients with phobias: “We always try to be upfront and communicate ahead we’re a pet-friendly office. When a client comes in that has trouble with that, we make sure JoJo stays in her ‘office’ [and she does have an office, nameplate and all].”

Regardless, they were each in confident agreement: their pawed pals have been a big plus for their businesses.

Nora belongs to Amy Goldyn.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Pheasant Heaven

January 4, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“We went through 250,000 birds and 30,000 hunters in the last 30 years,” Bruhn says. “We had every celebrity you could think of out here.”

As urban sprawl takes over rural America, yesterday’s pasture transforms into tomorrow’s super store. Earl Henry Bruhn Jr. foresaw this trend long ago. He knew hunters would need a place to go where they could get inspired, stay in touch, and most importantly—hunt some birds.

Scott Bruhn is the son of Earl Henry Bruhn Jr. His family’s farm along the Elkhorn River Valley underwent decades of preparation before opening for commercial hunting.

“My dad bought the property in 1962,” Bruhn says. “He was a big hunter. He said, ‘We’ll buy our own property; we’ll have our own private hunting preserve and get a head start.’”

Pheasant Haven officially opened as a hunting preserve in 1987 after Scott and his brother, Earl Bruhn III, graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The two wanted to realize their father’s vision for Pheasant Haven—opening hundreds of acres to hunters from all over the nation.

“We went through 250,000 birds and 30,000 hunters in the last 30 years,” Bruhn says. “We had every celebrity you could think of out here.”

Unfortunately, his brother Earl did not live to see the full realization of their Pheasant Haven dream. After his untimely death in 1991, just four years after opening, Bruhn was left to carry on the dream—alone.

In recent years, urban development has finally reached the gates of Pheasant Haven. Trophy homes now dot the beautiful Elkhorn River Valley. At this point in time, Bruhn says the preserve is no longer viable as a hunting retreat. The property shrank from a vast acreage to a mere 75 acres, and Bruhn has come up with a new focus for the business.
pheasantheaven2“Now I have a staff created, and all the buildings, and everything I need to do dog boarding and training,” Bruhn says. “I love dogs.”

According to Bruhn, there is a large and underserved community of hunters in Omaha who want to have their dog trained for hunting. He says a lot of people want their dog to be ready for sporting, but simply don’t have the space to do it.

“They can drop their dog off, and we can exercise the dog and keep it in good condition,” Bruhn says. “When they go up to South Dakota, or wherever they go, they will already have their dog trained, ready to roll, and in great shape.”

Tom Kazmierczak of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says he would pay the more than $1,000 it costs to train a dog at Pheasant Haven. Kazmierczak himself trained his dog, Sam, with mixed results. In his opinion, having a well-trained dog is very impressive and makes the hunt go more smoothly.

“I have also hunted with old-school guys who got mad at me when Sam took off running and I couldn’t stop her,” Kazmierczak says. But he acknowledges that having a perfectly trained dog that can hunt is not what it’s all about. He finds joy in the quality time spent with Sam.

“I read a book called Travels with Charlie by Steinbeck when I was in about eighth grade, which is all about a guy and his dog discovering America—that’s Sam and I,” Kazmierczak says. “I take her anywhere they allow, and I start every morning in the backyard with Sam and a cup of coffee.”

Talking to someone like Kazmierczak, it is obvious that a hunting dog is more than a utilitarian tool. It can be the family pet—the dog that flushes pheasants and drinks from the proverbial toilet bowl.

There is another sporting aspect of Pheasant Haven’s new business model that plays into the light-hearted side of dog ownership. Bruhn calls it dock jumping, but it is known nationally as “dock diving.” The premise of the sport is simple: dogs are trained to jump as far as they can off a dock over water.

Training dogs to dock dive goes beyond the fences of Pheasant Haven. Bruhn plans to partner with local animal shelters to give adoptee animals a second chance. He calls it “Wet Dog Jumps.” Pheasant Haven has already done fundraising dock jump events to benefit the Nebraska Humane Society, and this is another layer to that on-going effort.

“Those poor dogs that aren’t going to get a home—we are going to turn some of them into champions, sell them at the venues, and then give the money back to the shelters to feed more dogs,” Bruhn says.

Margaret Allen is Bruhn’s fiancée. When Bruhn retires, she says that will likely be the end of Pheasant Haven.

It is a little gloomy, seeing the beginning, middle, and end of a family business. But, as a game reserve, the destination was transient anyway. Encroaching urban sprawl has been a known threat for decades. Taking in dogs without a home, however, and giving them a new life—that creates a timeless legacy.

Visit pheasanthaven.org for more information.


The Big Give

September 6, 2016 by
Illustration by Kristen Hoffman

Omahans give. That is no secret. Just consider the amount generated by the Omaha Community Foundation’s fourth annual Omaha Gives campaign. The 24-hour funding drive amassed almost $9 million, a new record.

In each September/October issue, Omaha Magazine helps our readers determine where to spend their charitable donations through a special advertorial called The Big Give. Inside this section, you’ll find information on a variety of charities, including their mission statements, wish lists, event dates, and more. Click here to view the entire Big Give.

This year, The Big Give spotlights:

100 Black Men of Omaha


The ALS Association Mid-America Chapter

American Red Cross

Assistance League of Omaha

Autism Action Partnership

Ballet Nebraska

CASA for Douglas County

Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha

Completely Kids


Diabetes Education Center of the Midlands

Empowerment Network

Film Streams, Inc.

Food Bank for the Heartland

Gesu Housing, Inc.

Global Partners in Hope

Green Omaha Coalition

Heartland Family Service

The Hope Center for Kids

ICARE Youth Services, Inc.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha

The Kim Foundation

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

Nebraska Children’s Home Society

Nebraska Humane Society

The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition

Ollie Webb Center, Inc.

Omaha Against Hunger

Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Home for Boys

Omaha Public Library Foundation

Open Door Mission

Outlook Nebraska, Inc.

Phoenix Academy

Project Harmony

Rejuvenating Women

Release Ministries, Inc.

The Salvation Army

Santa Monica House

Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter


United Way of the Midlands

Youth Emergency Services