People to be thankful for: Rescued animals, adults with disabilities form special bond at Our House of Hope
On any given day, Lisa Krinninger of Libertyville and her crew of volunteers work with dogs they have rescued on basic obedience, agility and building trust.
It's animal therapy of sorts -- for the dogs and the volunteers who, for the most part, are young adults with disabilities.
Krinninger calls the unique partnership the Paws-Ability Project, and it's just one of several programs she has developed through her Our House of Hope rescue organization that she started in 2007.
"Paws-Ability is a transitional program that bridges the gap between what is and what can be for both our rescue animals and young adults facing challenges," Krinninger says. "At Our House of Hope, everything is Paws-Able when you embrace the bond between humans and animals.
"These bonds lead to comfort, strength, willingness," she adds, "and confidence in times of transition."
Krinninger used to work for a veterinarian, but it wasn't until she saw the "magic" occur in her own four adopted children, all of whom had special challenges, that the seed for a unique rescue organization began to take root.
"We tried every type of therapy you can name for our children," Krinninger says, "but it wasn't until we got them their own animals that we saw tremendous progress. It was magic."
Our House of Hope Rescue typically takes in around 50 animals per year from across Lake County. It's a number she admits is low given the demand, but with the amount of rehabilitation and medical intervention most of the dogs need, and the number of available foster families, she has to limit the number.
"The majority of dogs we take in are older, and those in need of medical and emotional rehabilitation," Krinninger says, "or dogs that need a little more time."
While caring for the animals, Krinninger saw another growing need -- owners struggling to afford food for their pets. She started an informal pet food pantry, and in 2014 established the Our House of Hope Pet Food Pantry inside the Central Bark Doggy Daycare in Grayslake.
"Since opening in 2014, the need has tripled in size," Krinninger says. "We service the entire Lake County area. The need is everywhere, you just don't always see it."
Krinninger relies on private donations to stock the pantry, but she has seen those go down by as much as 77% during the pandemic, and all while the need continues to grow.
Nonetheless, she and her volunteers continue to operate the pantry, where it is another learning experience for them. Her young adults learn about what it takes to work in a pet food store, handling everything from inventory to stocking.
Each week, they figure they go through 2,000 pounds of food, as well as treats, toys and crates for about 400 clients.
"During COVID, we saw our inventory nearly completely depleted," Krinninger says, "but we caught our breath, tightened our belts and moved forward."
While Our House of Hope continues to recover from the pandemic, Krinninger welcomes donations -- of pet food and financial donations to help with operational costs.
Learn more about the organization and its services by visiting www.ourhouseofhoperescue.com/, or www.facebook.com/Our-House-of-Hope-Pet-Food-Pantry-776718282390347/ or www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=383071843413773& id=105664137821213.