WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than a dozen four-legged friends were adopted free of charge this football season thanks to an initiative started by Buffalo Bills Kicker Stephen Hauschka and his wife, Lindsey.
Each field goal Stephen made at New Era Field, the couple paid the adoption fees for a dog at the SPCA Serving Erie County, in a program called “Hauschpups.”
“It would be easy to just come in and do your job and leave, or whatever, but for us, we get a lot more out of it to get involved,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey had already been volunteering weekly at the shelter and came up with the idea to donate more than just her time.
“It just kind of struck me, talking with the other volunteers at the SPCA and seeing them talk about these dogs that they love so much,” she said. “But sometimes people couldn’t afford their adoption fees, so the idea just kind of came together that maybe we could help out with that.”
When this initiative first started, Stephen said he felt more pressure to make each field goal than he had before, but eventually realized it was a great opportunity that his points were doing more than just leading the team to victory.
Chief Communications Officer of the SPCA Serving Erie County, Gina Lattuca, said she was thrilled when the Hauschkas approached her with this idea. After going through ideas, the group decided to base the adoptions around a different type of dog each week.
“When we first started talking about it, we didn’t know if it was going to be a longest stay program where each week we’d feature a dog through Haushpups that had been here the longest,” Lattuca explained. “Then we thought, should it be a senior program, should it be a special needs program? We realized every week we would have a different population of dogs because our adoptions are so frequent.”
By the end of the season, 14 furry friends had their adoptions paid for and were heading to their forever home.
That includes Shelby. Her owners, Destiny Holani and Mikala Coleman, originally had their eyes on another dog at the shelter, but fell in love with the pitbull puppy.
“It seemed like everything just fit perfectly like a puzzle,” Coleman said. “Like one thing didn’t happen but it led to this other thing that happened and Shelby has been great, she’s amazing.”
And the fact that Shelby was a Haushpup made the adoption even more special. Holani is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but said she’s forever grateful that the Bills player brought her pet home.
And as animal lovers, the Hauschkas say they’re thrilled with the success of the program.
“For us, we have two dogs and they are like our children, we love them so much and they’re a huge part of our lives,” Lindsey said. “So any time a family can have that, where maybe they didn’t have the money together that day to adopt the dog they wanted, it’s cool to be able to help out with that.”
Lindsey even recently joined the SPCA Serving Erie County’s board, and said both she and Stephen are already looking ahead to doing this program next season, and we may even be seeing more than just Haushpups. The couple is looking into expanding this program for other animals at the shelter.