Family Service Opportunities

Build bonds with family and friends at PAWS Chicago! With a parent or guardian, children between ages 12 and 17 can volunteer on behalf of homeless pets by joining the PAWS Chicago Family Service Volunteer Program.

PAWS Chicago's Family Services Program

New to PAWS Chicago’s Family Service program? Please fill out the family service application form here and we will send you log-in information to our system within 24-to-48 hours.

Everything you do in the Family Service Volunteer Program directly impacts the animals and the number we save each year. The following Family Service Volunteer Program opportunities are available with PAWS Chicago:

Adoption Center Preparation Team

As part of the Adoption Center Preparation Team, you will help clean rooms, socialize animals, assist with administrative tasks and prepare the Adoption Center for opening each day. The help you provide through this position enables PAWS Chicago to maintain a clean and safe environment for our homeless animals. Sign up for the Adoption Center Preparation Volunteer Team.
Location: 1997 North Clybourn Avenue
Times: Saturdays and Sundays from 8 AM to 1 PM (split into three 90-minute shifts per day)

Pet Food Bank Attendant

The Pet Food Bank Program has been in place since 2008 and is run almost entirely by volunteers. The Pet Food Bank uses donated items to provide emergency assistance to families facing unemployment, foreclosure, or other financial crises, thus enabling them to keep their pets. Volunteers answer phone calls and emails regarding the Pet Food Bank, register people for the program, organize donations, and pack and distribute supplies to Pet Food Bank customers. Sign up to be a Pet Food Bank Volunteer. For more information contact Kinga at
Location: PAWS Chicago Rescue and Recovery Center at 3516 West 26th Street
Times: Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM (three slots per day)

Welcome Center Host

The weekends are certainly a fun time at the Adoption Center. With so many guests visiting the shelter throughout each day, PAWS Chicago greatly benefits from the help of the Welcome Center Hosts. Hosts assist guests when they first enter the Adoption Center doors by answering questions and directing people through the facility. Volunteer to become a Welcome Center Host.
Location: 1997 North Clybourn Avenue
Times: Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 5 PM (split into three, two-hour shifts per day)

Community Development

PAWS Chicago’s humane education and community outreach volunteers support at-risk communities through education and outreach. These volunteers are advocates for the animals and help educate the community on the importance of issues like pet homelessness, dog fighting, puppy mills, spay/neuter and the No Kill movement. PAWS Chicago is focused on several programs to help the people and animals in these targeted neighborhoods. For more information, contact the Community Outreach Manager Kinga at

Special Events

Throughout the year, PAWS Chicago participates and hosts special events. These events provide PAWS Chicago with the opportunity to promote adopting and the mission to help Chicago become a No Kill city. PAWS Chicago is always in need of volunteers interested in representing PAWS as greeters and set-up assistants, among other roles. Here are some of our annual events and the main contacts to get involved:

Cinco de Mayo Parade in May
PAWS Chicago has been fortunate to be asked to participate in the annual Cinco de Mayo Parade each May. This event allows PAWS to travel throughout Chicago informing people of PAWS Chicago’s spay and neuter services. Every year we look for volunteers of all ages to walk the parade route and hand out flyers. The more help we have, the more spay/neuter flyers we can distribute! Contact Meg Damato at with interest.

Every spring and winter, PAWS hosts an Adopt-a-Thon at the Adoption Center. Event greeters are always needed for these events. As a greeter, you will help answer guests’ questions and help them find their way around the facility. If you have interest in becoming a PAWS Chicago greeter for events, feel free to reach out to Meg Damato at

Angels with Tails
This is PAWS Chicago’s premiere pet adoption event each summer which raises awareness about pet adoption and the homeless population. Shelters throughout Chicago join PAWS Chicago on the store fronts of more than fifty retail stores along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Volunteers are needed to hand out flyers, greet guests, and help with the set up and break down of the event. For more information about PAWS Chicago’s Angels with Tails, check out

Team PAWS Chicago Cheering Squad
Chicago’s half marathon, marathon and triathlon are some of the biggest running events in the country. TEAM PAWS Chicago has been lucky enough to have more runners dedicate their efforts to PAWS Chicago each year and we want to cheer them on! PAWS has assembled a Cheering Squad who goes to these runs to give our runners the motivation they need to get through their big races and we would love your help!

Run for Their Lives 4k Walk/8k Run
This is a wonderful racing event for runners and walkers each fall. You can choose to participate in the event as a runner or walker (and even bring your own dog for the walk portion of the event). Or, you may volunteer your time at the event. PAWS Chicago needs volunteer assistance throughout the day to cheer on the participants and help with the set-up and break down of the event. If you would like to help raise funds for the event, you can sponsor a runner/walker as well – another great way to show your support and keep the participants motivated. Learn more about Run for Their Lives 4k walk/8k Run.

Foster Care
Fostering is an integral part of our organization. By fostering a homeless pet, you are enabling us to have more space at the shelter to take in more animals. There are hundreds of animals sitting at the city pound awaiting their fate. The more we can take in, the more lives we can save. It is through foster homes that more animals are given the chance at life they deserve. As a foster parent, you will provide us with valuable information about the animals you help save, which we can then provide to potential adopters as they get to know their new family pets. Visit to learn more.

Sewing Project Team
PAWS Chicago regularly receives generous donations of blankets and sheets. Occasionally these materials are too big for us to use. We need people who can cut these materials into smaller pieces and sew up the sides. We also often have animal pillows needing repair from continuous wear and tear. The luxury of this project is this will be done in your own home and can be done at your leisure. If you would like to help out, contact Meg Damato at All items will be picked up and dropped off at our Adoption Center at 1997 North Clybourn Avenue.

Wish List Donation Drive and Fundraising
PAWS Chicago is always in need of the generosity of others whether it is through financial contributions or in-kind donations. If you would like to put together your own donation drive or fundraiser, let us know. We would be happy to tell you what we need most. Gather a group of friends to help collect items or develop a group/classroom challenge to see who can collect the most items! Here are the items currently on the PAWS Chicago Wish List:

Items for Dogs Items for Cats General Items
  • Pill pockets
  • Biodegradable poop bags
  • Kong brand toys
  • Kong stuffing
  • Nylon leashes
  • Collars
  • Dog bowls (stainless steel)
  • Dog treats
  • Dry and wet dog or puppy food (any brand)
  • Merrick brand dry and wet dog or puppy food
  • Dog crates
  • Dog brushes (new)
  • Virbac Epi-soothe shampoo
  • Large/long rope toys
  • Puppia brand soft harnesses for small dogs
  • Pill pockets
  • Cat toys
  • Dry and wet cat or kitten food (any brand)
  • Merrick brand dry and wet cat or kitten food
  • Litter boxes 9x13x2 inch (aluminum disposable trays)
  • Cat Bowls (stainless steel)
  • Cat litter
  • Plastic cat carriers
  • Cat brushes (new)
  • 10, 30, and 55 gallon garbage bags
  • Clean, new or used towels, flat sheets and blankets (micro fiber or fleece)
  • Unscented clorox bleach
  • Mop heads
  • PETCO gift cards
  • Gas gift cards
  • Small paper plates
  • Rubber cleaning gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Windex

If you’d like to put your own fundraiser together, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Hold a lemonade stand in your neighborhood for the cats and dogs of PAWS Chicago
  • Start a “doggy” or “kitty” bank and ask friends and family to contribute
  • Virtually adopt a pet
  • Hold a bake sale in your neighborhood or at your school in honor of homeless pets
  • Collect and recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans
  • Hold a rummage or garage sale
  • Host a car or dog wash in your local neighborhood
  • Start a penny drive at school and collect loose change
  • Feature and sponsor a PAWS Chicago animal for adoption on your favorite social media page
  • Suggest that your Girl/Boy Scout troop raise funds to help save the lives of homeless pets