When PAWS Chicago was founded in 1997, more than 800 homeless cats and dogs were being killed in Chicago every week, totaling a staggering 42,561 deaths that year alone.
And no one knew.

PAWS Chicago was founded to end the unnecessary killing of homeless pets by informing and engaging the public and the media to help bring about change. When people are made aware of these horrific numbers, they recognize the reality and become part of the solution.

Through high-profile events and public awareness campaigns, PAWS Chicago has put a face on this once hidden problem, and results were immediately visible. After PAWS Chicago brought the killing to public attention in 1998, the number of animals destroyed was reversed… and continues to fall.

The killing rate of homeless animals in Chicago has been reduced by 71% since its founding in 1997. But there is still much work to be done.

Solutions to Pet Overpopulation

PAWS Chicago is the largest No Kill humane organization in the Midwest. Through innovative Angels with Tails dog and cat adoption events held on weekends at shopping centers and retail stores, PAWS Chicago is saving lives and educating the public.

However adoption alone will never solve this problem. Spay/Neuter is the only proven solution to reduce the oversupply of homeless dogs and cats.

By opening and operating the PAWS Chicago Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic, Chicago’s only high-volume, free clinic located in and serving under-resourced communities where the majority of stray and unwanted pets originate, PAWS Chicago is effectively reducing the number of homeless pets.

The Lurie Clinic spayed/neutered nearly 18,000 pets in 2013. Since the Lurie Clinic opened in 2001, the 71% reduction of euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats in Chicago can be attributed to fewer animals entering shelters. Spay/Neuter works.

In 2011, PAWS Chicago unveiled The GusMobile, a state-of-the-art spay/neuter van which enables PAWS Chicago to bring our life-saving solutions to Chicago neighborhoods that are most in need, including free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations and education about the humane and proper treatment of animals. The van is the mobile counterpart of the PAWS Chicago Lurie Spay/Neuter clinic, a free and low-cost clinic where nearly 18,000 spay/neuter surgeries are performed each year.

Transforming Animal Sheltering in Chicago

Confinement in traditional cages often causes animals severe stress and anxiety. In these conditions, lonely dogs and cats develop suppressed immunities and contract illness, pass on disease, and deteriorate emotionally and behaviorally. As a result, traditional (kill) shelters deem these pets “unadoptable” and euthanize them.

The Lurie Clinic spayed/neutered nearly 18,000 pets in 2013. Since the Lurie Clinic opened in 2001, the 71% reduction of euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats in Chicago can be attributed to fewer animals entering shelters. Spay/Neuter works.

Additionally, municipal animal control agencies and many shelters are often located in out-of-the-way neighborhoods or industrial districts with little foot traffic. Because few people visit these sites, the animals have little hope of being adopted. Thankfully, there is another way to house and care for these animals until loving homes can be found, and there is another way to welcome in the community and ensure every animal receives another chance at life.

A New Home, A New Way for Chicago’s Homeless Pets

In September 2007, PAWS Chicago celebrated a milestone by opening the Midwest’s No Kill, cageless, state-of-the-art Adoption Center for dogs and cats in Lincoln Park. Based on adoption numbers since the opening, PAWS Chicago’s goal is to secure homes for more than 6,000 homeless pets this year. With this increase in adoptions, the cost of medical treatments and caring for homeless pets has greatly increased.

Adoption Center

PAWS Chicago has consulted with sheltering and behavior experts across the country to ensure that the design, operations and practices of the Center will offer the best temporary care and comfort for the homeless animal guests, while easing their transition into permanent homes once adopted. The Center’s innovative features enhance the physical and emotional health, and therefore the adoptability, of its homeless dogs and cats, with:

  • Suites instead of cages to ensure a quiet, relaxed environment
  • Ventilation system with 100% fresh air flow to eliminate disease transmission
  • Enrichment area for daily exercise, agility and training
  • Matchmaker program to match pet characteristics to adopter’s lifestyle
  • Treatment & Medical Care Center to treat all animals

Special thanks to Sabrina Nizzi for dog and cat videography.

Additional thanks to Sebastian Sparenga Photography, Caitlin Lisa, Heather Haseley, Dan Kasberger, Jennifer Girard, Malia Rae Photography, Richard Chen, Oscar Mendez, and Von Buzard for event and animal photography used on this Web site.

PAWS Chicago, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has been awarded a Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the country's premier independent charity evaluator. Contributions to PAWS Chicago are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. PAWS Chicago is only able to help homeless animals because of your donations. We receive no city, state or federal funding.

PAWS Chicago's Forms 990 are viewable at guidestar.org

Meet Your Match® and it's logos/colors is a program of the ASPCA®.

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