PAWS for Life: the ultimate prevention effort is putting No-Kill Chicago in the horizon.
Our cats and dogs add immeasurable love and joy to our lives. They make us laugh, comfort us through life’s challenges and seem to know exactly when we need a little TLC.
Imagine now that your best friend is sick or injured. You know there are places where your pet can be treated, but you don’t have the resources. You don’t have the ability to pay a veterinarian—and you likely don’t have access to a car to transport your pet. Meet the PAWS for Life program—designed to reach people and pets who most need our help and keep pets out of the sheltering system. Under-resourced communities do not have access to basic veterinary care, pet food and supplies and important information on pet wellness and spay/neuter. We’re changing that.
Through spay/neuter and prevention efforts, Chicago is close to No-Kill. However, there are pet owners in our city who, despite great love for their pets, do not have access to spay/neuter and other medical services, and won’t receive them without intervention. PAWS for Life knows a lack of wealth does not mean a lack of love. This program is bringing life-saving resources directly to the community – stopping pet overpopulation and keeping pets in homes and out of shelters.
PAWS for Life:
- Works on the ground in the community five days per week, providing resources such as free spay/neuter, behavior and wellness advice and pet supplies.
- Focuses on areas of most need and highest CACC intake.
- Is radically changing the percentage of unaltered pets in the community through building relationships, consistent presence, and removing barriers to access spay/neuter. These are spays/neuters that would NOT happen without our intervention.
- Engages people where they are at without judgement, building individual relationships with community members.
- Provides resources and information to keep pet in their homes and out of shelters, such as emergency veterinary care, supplies, and behavior help.
- Invites community members to participate at every level of animal advocacy.
PAWS for Life - Englewood outreach
In November 2014, we began piloting this program in Englewood, arguably one of the most challenged neighborhoods in Chicago with more than 49 percent of the population living below the poverty line and an average per capita income of $11,888. Before PAWS for Life, spay/neuter services were not readily available to this community, resulting in only about five percent of the animals receiving this important surgery, compared to about 80 percent across the country. We’ve found the three biggest barriers to spay/neuter access were cost, transportation and lack of accurate information. There is not a natural opposition to spay/neuter in under-served areas. In fact, our data collection shows that 85% of reported litters are accidental! It’s simply a lack of resources.
PAWS for Life breaks down each one of these obstacles. Services are free for program clients. Transportation is provided for the pet to and from our spay/neuter clinic or surgeries are done at our GusMobile.
Over 93% of pets we meet are not fixed at the time we meet them. 85% of those pets end up getting spayed/neutered through our efforts. PAWS for Life is truly reaching pet owners who would not receive these services otherwise.
PAWS for Life staff and volunteers meet Englewood residents where they live, by going door-to-door, block-by-block. Through relationship-building and a consistent presence in the community, PAWS for Life is reaching pet owners who love their animals and want to do everything they can to help them.
PAWS for Life - Back of the Yards Outreach
In 2018, PAWS for Life added an additional community to our service area: Back of the Yards. This community lies directly north of Englewood and is also very under-served with high demand for pet wellness services. Our team held one GusMobile event in that neighborhood and the response was overwhelming. Over 700 Back of the Yards residents called the PAWS for Life hotline in the weeks before and after the event and 150 people showed up that morning. Although we could only serve 40 pets on the Gus Bus, we made sure everyone was served in the following weeks. The response was so great that our team scheduled more weekly transport days in order to serve everyone’s pets! This year we doubling our efforts to reach pets and owners in this community with the same strategies employed in Englewood.
We want to fully expand our efforts and reach every under-served area of Chicago that needs our help. Will you help us reach No-Kill?