Kristina Rinaldi has helped or rescued more than 1,500 dogs in some of Detroit's roughest neighborhoods with the non-profit Detroit Dog Rescue also known as DDR.
In many ways, Kristina relates to the dogs she helps. She spent most of her childhood and teenage years in and out of foster homes or sleeping on couches of friends and relatives. At age 13 she was working for drug dealers helping throw Rave parties and by age 15 she was rapping in the hip-hop scene. She became friends with a rapper named Hush who started DDR. After putting herself through college and getting a job at a hospital, Kristina joined DDR to follow her passion of helping dogs that are in need.
Kristina coordinates volunteers to help rescue and foster many dogs that would otherwise be put down. She also does community outreach and brings dog food and even dog houses to pet owners who won't surrender their dogs but need extra help taking care of them.
Kristina's salary is bare bones and barely covers the expenses of coming to work, but she says the dogs make it worth it. "When you grow up feeling not cared about, it's awesome to come full circle and rescue something else that feels like that," explained Kristina.
After being surprised with a check for $50,000, Kristina immediately bent down to one of DDR's rescued dogs and announced, "this is going to help spay and neuter so many dogs!"
Regrettably after the filming of this interview the dog Piglet - shown in the video, had to be humanely euthanized by a DDR vet, as a result of a seizure that left him neurologically impaired and unable to live a quality life.
More information on DDR can be found at http://www.detroitdogrescue.com/