Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Heather Haseley

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
I have been a volunteer with PAWS Chicago since October 2009. When I moved to Chicago from NYC, I was in the middle of a job hunt, but I wanted to find something meaningful to fill the time spent waiting to hear back from interviews. I had never done significant volunteering before I started at PAWS Chicago, mostly because I had never found a cause that I had truly connected with. PAWS Chicago changed all that. The mission of building a No Kill Chicago spoke to me and after stepping into the Adoption Center and seeing how much love an care the organization devotes to their animals, I was hooked. I got a full-time job just a month later, but volunteering at PAWS was so rewarding that I decided to continue and the rest is history.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Kitty City is my PAWS home base. I am a location manager, lead level 2 volunteer, and adoption counselor for the kitties. I also serve as co-chair of the volunteer recruitment committee and my photos of both cats and dogs can be seen on the website, in promotional materials, and in the Angel Tails magazine.


My friends think that I have an addiction to volunteering at PAWS. So what if they’re right? I can’t think of a better thing to be addicted to!

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

This isn’t a fair question! It’s like taking a kid to Disneyland and asking them what their favorite ride is… All of them of course!  To be fair, the times that really tug at my heartstrings are the ones when a long-term animal goes home with the perfect adopter. It is definitely emotionally difficult to see animals at PAWS for a long period of time who may not show well at the shelter but you know would make the ideal companion for the right adopter. The PAWS “holiday” program is a great conduit for these animals to get into a home and show just how amazing they really are. PAWS has taught me that there truly is someone for every animal, you just need to be patient and be the best advocate you can be for all the animals.

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

I run the operations for a center at a major local university. My “real job” is incredibly demanding and as a crazy workaholic, I sometimes forget that the world continues to function outside of my work bubble. Volunteering at PAWS Chicago helps me keep things in perspective and my eyes and heart open to the world around me. In terms of my professional skills benefiting my volunteering, I’ve found my experience with operations and technology to be invaluable to my work on the volunteer recruitment committee, as well as my management and leadership experience to be useful as a location manager and lead level 2.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer to find kitties new homes so that I stop personally adopting them and bringing them into my home. Kidding. Well, sort of. One of the most rewarding things about volunteering at PAWS Chicago is matching an animal with the perfect adopter. This curbs the need that I think all animal lovers have to save/adopt them all because in a way, through my work at PAWS Chicago, that’s exactly what I am doing. I am helping these animals find homes that match their individual needs.


I could sit at home and watch TV or I could come to PAWS and spend time with amazing furry friends. No contest. I’ll take the kitties any day. My question is why don’t more people spend their free time volunteering?

Do you have any pets at home?

My house is like a little kitty reality show all the time. The Haseley-Edenton Cat-O-Rama Show stars: Linus, aka “the humper,” age 2.5 years, PAWS Chicago Alumnus; Rose, aka “the plastic eater,” age 6 years, adopted from a shelter in PA; Sophia, aka “the evil alpha,” age 6 years, sister to Rose (although she will deny any relation if asked); and Isobel, aka “the doorknob disabler,” age 8 years, also adopted from a shelter in PA. The Haseley-Edenton Cat-O-Rama plays constantly in an apartment in Lincoln Square with the motto: “Making the day brighter and the night a whole lot less comfortable.”


Anything else you'd like to share regarding your experiences as a PAWS Chicago volunteer?  


The animals at PAWS Chicago constantly impress me. To me, these animals represent the best of the feline and canine world by exuding strength in times of adversity, perfection in imperfection, and trust where none is warranted. If only all the humans that I met were as awesome as the animals at PAWS Chicago, the world would be a much better place.