Oak Park’s Animal Care League is committed to providing shelter, medical care, and comfort to animals in need; reducing animal overpopulation; acting as a community resource; and promoting the human/animal bond. The Schoonveld family turned to the Animal Care League two years ago when they wanted to adopt a pet, and it’s hard to tell who rescued who in this heart-warming adoption story.

Tanya Schoonveld and her family of six were looking to adopt a dog and had their hearts set on a Pit Bull mix because they knew there were so many Pit Bulls in shelters who needed forever homes. After searching on-line, they thought they saw potential in one of the Animal Care League’s dogs, and Tanya took two of her four children to the Animal Care League to meet the dog who would become theirs.

All four of the Schoonveld children are autistic and have special needs, and Schoonveld says there was something about Rizzo that made her know he would be a great fit for her family. She remarks, “He was special. I totally believe in fate. It is such a blessing he came to us. All of my kids have different needs, and Rizzo meets them. He bonded with everyone and knows each kid’s subtle differences.”

One of her children is soothed by gentle pressure when stressed, and Rizzo will lie on the child to comfort him. Another child takes a bus to school, and after walking to the end of the driveway, Rizzo doesn’t leave his spot until the bus is headed off to school. Rizzo sleeps in another child’s bedroom, offering quiet support throughout the night. Schoonveld’s oldest child, who has Downs Syndrome, had several strokes in 2017 and has been homebound. Schoonveld says, “Rizzo has been her best friend since then. Rizzo’s kisses solve all problems.”

At the end of the day, the Schoonvelds say they all live a better life because Rizzo is a part of it. Tanya Schoonveld notes, “He is so intuitive and so loyal. He’s very protective of the kids. He really is our emotional therapy dog.”

Join the discussion on social media!