What do lawn care equipment and dogs have to do with each other? If you ask Kris Kiser (’88), he’ll proudly say: Everything.
A little over a decade ago, Kiser, who is the president of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, was driving along a busy street when a stray dog ran in front of his car. Kiser, an avid dog lover, pulled over and let the dog into his car and his heart. He named the dog Lucky.
Lucky inspired Kiser to start TurfMutt, which is an educational program geared toward children that encourages more responsible, green practices. As Kiser is so fond of saying, “Who knows your yard better than your dog?”
TurfMutt partnered with Scholastic to teach people the importance of cultivating green spaces that fit the habitat. Their show, Lucky Dog, which could be seen for three seasons on CBS, reached viewers by taking difficult dogs and turning them into desirable best friends.
But it wasn’t enough. Kiser wanted to take the next step in actively helping dogs find new, loving homes. As CEO of OPEI and founder of TurfMutt, he wanted to combine his two passions into one tail-wagging event.
It was only fitting that the event would be in Louisville, where Kiser earned his degree from the Brandeis School of Law. Kiser holds Kentucky’s shelter system in high regard, as it is one of the few that actively rehabilitates, trains and cares for animals throughout their transition from homeless to shelter to home.
“Kentucky is extraordinarily unique and professional and advanced in how they place dogs,” Kiser said.
The 2018 Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo) was the perfect setting for a partnership between TurfMutt, the Kentucky Humane Society, and the Louisville Division of Tourism.
“How do we get people into Freedom Hall? I said I know, we’ll do an adoption event. You bring dogs and people follow. And you serve a purpose, we get these guys adopted,” Kiser said.
Mutt Madness took place Oct. 18 at Freedom Hall with thousands of people in attendance. Kiser’s passion for animals was contagious, as people lined up to snuggle and play with puppies and older dogs alike. Between the happy howls and howls of laughter, adoption counselors were on site to send these dogs to their forever homes.
Kiser and Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism, presented KHS with a check for $10,000 to further their assistance for animals.
The money raised will go toward providing pups with an easier transition between shelter and home.