City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

A Puppy Named Kiley

How an animal shelter is investing in the community

The story of Animal House Shelter (AHS) began in the summer of 1996. Lesley Irwin got a call about a dog was just thrown out of a car on Lake-Cook Road, dodging cars in the Barrington area. Lesley was home on break from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she was an Animal Science major.

The little puppy, a six-month-old female American Staffordshire Terrier who was soon named Kiley, changed everything. Irwin, who grew up in a family filled with rescue dogs, horses, cats and even wildlife, never had a pet as special as Kiley. After summer break, Irwin headed back to campus with Kiley in tow.

Over time, Kiley helped open Irwin’s eyes to a new career path leading to the launch of AHS: a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter for all breeds of dogs and cats. The first few years the rescue was run from her childhood home. As the shelter grew a new home was sought with Huntley being the ideal location for its next phase.

After more than 21 years as a caring place for rescued animals, the shelter is now investing in their community and the lives of the animals they care for, with an expansion project to help rescue and preserve more animals in need. All operating (and construction) funds are raised from private donations.

The expansion will include an on-site veterinary clinic, not only for residents but for other animals in the community. Currently, veterinary care is outsourced, depleting vital AHS resources needed elsewhere. Every aspect of the expansion better enables AHS to continue with animal rescue and serving the community.

“When we began our mission, Kiley helped us in so many ways,” Irwin said. “Because her temperament was so amazing, she was a natural to help us determine if an animal was dog friendly. She also mothered several orphaned puppies throughout the years as well. Kiley sadly passed in 2008. Because she was such a special soul who impacted my life in ways I can’t fully explain, AHS has now rescued, rehabilitated and found forever homes for over 63,000 dogs and cats to date.”

Cindy Wigdahl manages fundraising and events for Animal House Shelter. Visit to learn more about the organization and its capital campaign to expand its facility and enhance services.