MOUNT PLEASANT — Hercules, a 68-pound mixed-breed dog with a low bark, sniffs around an office at the Wisconsin Humane Society Racine Campus, 2706 Chicory Road.
His handler, Angela Speed, WHS vice president of communications, slowly feeds him handful after handful of food as she tries to build up Hercules’ strength. The 2-year-old dog is as preoccupied with gnawing on his favorite bone as he is with the snacks.
Three weeks ago, Hercules could barely walk. He was 20 pounds under weight and his muscles had begun to atrophy, according to Speed. He’d been intermittently spotted in a neighborhood near Colonial Park on Racine’s north side for weeks, but no one had been able to catch him or knew where he came from. On Nov. 10, he wandered onto somebody’s porch, and the resident called the Wisconsin Humane Center to take Hercules in.
If WHS hadn’t shown up, Speed thinks starvation or winter’s cold would have killed Hercules.
“He was pretty much skeletal,” Speed said, noting that Hercules’ spine and ribs were still visible against his fur on Tuesday.
Back on his paws
Now, he’s on a strict diet, ensuring that he starts eating enough to gain weight, while not eating so much that it would “throw his gastrointestinal system into havoc,” as Speed put it.
He may be available for adoption in just a few weeks, after WHS has him neutered and makes sure he’s healthy enough to join a “forever family.”
The WHS reports serving more than 40,000 animals a year, many of them in similar situations to Hercules. But doing that isn’t cheap.
Speed says it will end up costing a few thousand dollars worth of employees’ time, resources and veterinarian costs to rehabilitate Hercules alone. As a nonprofit that receives no government funding, the Wisconsin Humane Society relies on community donations to stay afloat.
Speed shared Hercules’ story on Tuesday to promote the needs at WHS.
“He’s such a good example of the animals we take care of here,” she said.
Giving and receiving on Tuesday
On Tuesday, WHS jumped on the Giving Tuesday bandwagon, calling for donations throughout the unofficial global holiday where charities ask for donations to support their do-good causes, a stark contrast to the greedy reputations of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Giving Tuesday has grown in popularity since it began in 2012. For every donation made via Facebook, for example, the social media giant (in conjunction with PayPal) promised to match the first $7 million in contributions.
In 2017, 473,000 individual donations were made on Giving Tuesday via Facebook, combined to total $45 million.
The Wisconsin Humane Society, which also has facilities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Brown and Door counties, had a goal of raising $70,000 on Giving Tuesday. As of 5:15 p.m., it had raised $44,000 throughout the day, plus another $10,000 in a matching donation from supporter Jude Ford, Speed said.
Not only will that money help care for animals like Hercules, but it may also be used to go toward the planned $5.4-million facility that Wisconsin Humane Society hopes to build at 90th and 16th streets in Mount Pleasant to replace its current building. In August, $1.8 million had already reportedly been raised, and Speed said WHS plans to make more announcements about fundraising progress in January.
“He’s such a good example of the animals we take care of here.” Angela Speed, Wisconsin Humane Society, regarding Hercules the dog