Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Beth Foley and Patrick McKeever

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago? 

Beth: I started volunteering for PAWS Chicago about seven years ago—before the Adoption Center was built. PAWS gave me hope that things could be changed in the world of animal welfare.  I had the feeling and belief that the leadership and volunteers at PAWS were dedicated to making a change and I was right and they do.


I used to go to the Rescue & Recovery Center on Saturdays and Sundays.  On my first day, I was asked to wash towels and prepare kongs. Each time I showed up, I did a little more and learned a little more.  Before I knew it I was doing adoption counseling.  I remember being at the Rescue & Recovery Center after Hurricane Katrina, cleaning kennels and doing whatever was needed to save the furry refugees coming in from Louisiana and Mississippi.


Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Beth: We are both primarily Adoption Counselors for both cats and dogs and have been for several years.  We are also proud “failed foster parents” of Panini, a PAWS feline.


Did you meet each other while volunteering or did you decide you were interested in volunteering together?

Beth: Patrick and I were already married when I started volunteering at PAWS Chicago.  Then, once the Adoption Center opened closer to our home, Patrick decided he wanted to start volunteering too.  After hearing me rave about PAWS for so long, he decided to join in the effort.  Now, he is even a more outspoken advocate for PAWS than I am.  He tells everyone we know to spay and neuter and why it’s better to adopt then buy animals.


Funny story about Patrick - when we met, he wasn’t much of an animal person.  I come with an 11-year-old cat and a dog I just saved from death row.  After only two dates, I went to New York on business last minute and needed him to take care of my animals for the next 48 hours.  He did and the rest is history.


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

Beth: My favorite PAWS Chicago story is about a dog named Ellie Mae, a Hurricane Katrina survivor (sort of).  Ellie Mae was a sweet, old Beagle mix who Patrick and I adopted from PAWS.  Lots of volunteers still remember little Ellie Mae because she stole everyone’s heart.   I was volunteering at an adoption event at PetCo and Ellie Mae was one of the last Katrina dogs still looking for a home.  So, I called Patrick and said, come to PetCo – we have a new dog.  I think Patrick had visions of a Labrador or a German Shepherd, not a fat, old hound mix. We were able give her a few well deserved golden years before she died.


I learned later that Ellie wasn’t a Katrina refugee, but a rescue from a shelter in Arkansas where she had been for many years. While there, the PAWS team couldn’t leave her behind, so they scooped her up and brought her to Chicago. This is one of many reasons I love PAWS.


Patrick:  I also fell in love with this dog.  She became a celebrity of sorts.  She was on TV three times when doing stories about Katrina and even when the Bears played the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game.


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

Beth: I’m a trial and jury consultant.  I travel all over the country working with companies and trial lawyers doing pre-trial jury research, preparing witnesses to testify and assisting counsel with jury selection.   A big part of my job is assessing people and figuring out the best way to persuade them to do something that will help my client. I guess my role at PAWS is also to access people and to be an advocate for the animals and the mission.


Patrick:  I'm in industrial sales and spend a lot of time in front of customers here in the Midwest.  My customers know that we do not have kids and are nice enough to always ask about the pets we currently have.  This gives me an opportunity to say great things about PAWS.


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

Beth: There are so many reasons I volunteer at PAWS.  I respect the leadership, staff, and the volunteers.  I support the PAWS mission.  I am proud to be associated with PAWS. Mostly, I love to be around the animals and see them go to their forever homes.


Patrick: I'm a big believer in the PAWS mission to stop all the unnecessary killing of animals and trying my best to help.  My favorite part of volunteering is finding the right family for an animal.  Between Beth and I, I'm sure we've sent home more than 200 puppies, kittens, dogs and cats to forever homes.  I remember many of them and even see them on the street in my neighborhood.


Do you have any pets at home?

Yes, we currently have a PAWS shepherd mix named Layla and a two-year-old cat named Panini.  We also have a beagle named Herman VonBeaglemen who we adopted at an Angels with Tails event several years ago.


Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?

We try to be involved in as many events as we can each year, but travel schedules make it challenging   We’ve been able to volunteer at the Fur Ball several times and this year we participated in the Run For Their Lives event.


What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?

When it comes to adopting pets, I’ve come to believe “there is somebody for everybody.”