LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — An animal rescue group that helps children with disabilities is struggling to overcome the financial challenges it faces as a non-profit. The therapy offered is unique and expensive.
“The healing that takes place between a shared bond and common experience is amazing,” said Jamie Griner, the owner and operator of Safe in Austin.
It all started with a boy and his dog.
Jackson, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, found comfort in the way his friend Angel would hold him.
“The changes that we saw in his personality and his heart were not anything that she had been taught, it was just something that she did on her own,” Griner said.
And that sparked inspiration for Griner.
“I instantly knew we were handed a gift and that I needed to share that with as many people and animals as I could.”
Now, the Griner family has a full house.
“We have cows, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, bunnies, ducks, turtles, goats,” Griner said.
Each animal with its own tale that can help children get through their own challenges.
“Echo doesn’t have any use of her legs,” Griner said of her pet chicken.
“They are each blind in one eye,” Griner noted as she looked upon the two ponies leading each other to safety.
“She was a dog-fighting breeder dog, locked in a cage, hidden under a tarp for 4.5 years, getting bred over and over again,” she said of her first rescue pit bull.
“Kids that haven’t spoken speak, kids that are afraid to touch things love on animals,” Griner said.
But the non-profit has its fair-share of problems. Unlike much of its competition, this family won’t charge you anything for this therapy. And with yearly vet bills around $50,000, it relies on donations to keep the doors open.
“There’s a lot of pressure on my husband to take care of all of that financially, so it’s certainly awesome when there are people who are willing to donate for feed or vet care,” Griner said.
Right now, the help they’re receiving is only covering a quarter of their total expenses. They said they’ll do whatever it takes to keep running, but the family is hoping others will step in to help.
“I believe that everyone can get healing and love no matter where they come from or who they are or if they can afford it or not,” Griner said.
Safe in Austin invites everyone to join them for “Spring Fest” this Sunday. Families can come meet the animals and learn how they can help children.