Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

John Deegan

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I saw a news program that said PAWS Chicago had sent rescue vans down to Louisiana to bring back rescued animals. I went down to the 26th street intake center with a monetary donation.  Rochelle Michalek asked if I could help for a couple of hours and assist with the hectic phones and visitors. Eight hours later, I was still there and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

I spent a couple of years at 26th street and events prior to the Adoption Center facility opening. Since then I have focused on Dog Town as a Level 2 volunteer, Location Manager and Adoption Counselor, as well as volunteering at various PAWS events.

Is there one favorite experience or fondest memory that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?

One of the greatest moments at PAWS is when a current adopter comes back later when they are ready to get their PAWS Alumni a friend. Seeing one of our dogs rescued is heart warming, but then to later hear how happy they are and want to add to their enjoyment just makes you keep coming back.  

How does what you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?

I am a Sales Executive for AT&T Premier Client Group. The corporate experience in managing high profile customers and their ever-changing needs is very helpful when assisting PAWS visitors who are looking for help deciding on the right fit for bringing a new dog into their lives.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

Volunteering for PAWS is hard work sometimes, but well worth the rewards. I have made unbelievable new friends, get to play with dogs and then experience the delight on people’s faces when they leave with their new family member. Its ironic when we hear visitors tell us how great it is that we are volunteering for such a great cause when I am usually thinking how great it is that I get to spend time at PAWS doing what we do!

Do you have any pets?

My wife Monica and I currently have two 15-year-old cats, Jimmy and Pinky, who I rescued from a Chicago Ridge animal shelter.

Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that benefits animals?

I have participated in multiple PAWS events including fundraising events like Fur Ball and Animal Magnetism, as well as helping with parades, races and weekend events. The more opportunities we have to inform the public on PAWS Chicago and our cause, the better!

What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?


It’s been amazing to see how far PAWS Chicago has come since I started volunteering almost six years ago so I can’t wait to see how the organization will continue to grow and extend its reach. What a great way to make friends, help solve a crisis in Chicago, and have fun doing it! PAWS Chicago has made me a better person.