News Item | PAWS Chicago

Andrew Tobin A Hero for Homeless Dogs

by Susanna Negovan | Jul 13, 2015

Retiring two years ago at age 52 left Andrew Tobin looking for a meaningful way to spend his free time. “The more I learned about PAWS Chicago’s mission and everything we do … I couldn’t dedicate enough time to it,” says the former law firm finance director.

Andrew serves on PAWS Chicago’s development board and is co-chair of the annual Beach Party fundraiser. But it’s his work as a trained “Gold Star” volunteer – which allows him to interact with every type of adoptable dog – that has proven to be most rewarding.

Volunteering three days a week, Andrew estimates he’s had a hand in adopting out about 150 dogs. “I always go to the website and download images of all the dogs I’ve interacted with, and every couple of months I go through the photos. There are times when I feel like I will cry when I see them again — and then I see an alumni photo with them lying in a comfy bed with someone who loves them … there’s nothing like it.”

“Counseling potential adopters is about making a connection and matching up a lifestyle,” he says. “When I talk to somebody and they say, ‘I live in a single-family home with a big fenced-in yard,’ I’ll think about a dog that we have that is looking for a situation like that.”

The dogs range from homeless puppies to older and owner-relinquished – a situation that can be particularly hard on the animal, Tobin says. “There is no doubt that dogs grieve, dogs get depressed. Even though the Adoption Center is beautiful, it’s still a shelter. When I see dogs that have clearly been in homes, they’re just looking for the safety and love and affection they had at one point in their lives. I say, ‘We are going to find you a good home. You’re safe here, and we’re going to find you someone who is going to love you and keep you forever.’”

Andrew and his partner of 18 years, development board member Gary Haut, found a special way to commemorate their shared devotion to homeless animals last year. “When we got married, we didn’t need pots and pans, so we asked people to make donations to PAWS instead. Being a financial person, I look to see how efficiently the money is being used. I know our labor force is such a big part of our volunteer program that I’m always confident the money is going to be used well.”

Learn more about your pet, PAWS Chicago news and the No Kill movement in PAWS Chicago Magazine.