Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Joyce Herdliska

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  

I began volunteering in October 2007.  I retired right before the PAWS Adoption Center opened which is just a few blocks from my home.  It was perfect because I love animals and always wanted to volunteer at a shelter but never had the time when I was working.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

For the first two years, I volunteered in Dog Town. I walked dogs, conducted Level One training classes and helped occasionally with administrative tasks.  Now my primary focus is making follow-up calls to adopters to find out how things are going post-adoption.  It’s wonderful to hear how joyful adopters are when they talk about their PAWS cat or dog.

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

I’ve had many great experiences as a PAWS Chicago volunteer but one of my fondest memories is the adoption of Magoo.  Magoo was an Australian Shepard who was deaf and blind. He had been abandoned as a puppy and found by a young man who cared for him for many years. Together, they learned to communicate with “touch” signals. Magoo came to PAWS when his owner died unexpectantly and there was no one to care for him because of his special needs. Although Magoo was a PAWS favorite, you knew his heart was breaking until a loving couple adopted him and provided him with a wonderful life for his remaining years.


I am always so touched by the individuals who adopt older animals or animals who require special care. I think this is the ultimate gift of kindness and I’m pretty sure the adopted animals would agree.    

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

Before retiring, I was a Senior Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield with responsibility for the corporate compliance communication and education program.  I think my previous work experiences help with interacting and working effectively with different styles and personalities. I also think I’ve learned to be a good listener which is especially important when talking with adopters.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

When I volunteered in Dog Town, I definitely enjoyed interacting with the dogs and potential adopters and trying to find the perfect match.  There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a happy dog walk out the door with its equally happy new owner. Now, I love listening to adopters, post-adoption, talk about their wonderful cat or dog. The joy in their voices makes me smile. And I’m happy when I can help them with any questions or concerns they may have.


Do you have any pets at home?

My dog Fioana, a Terrier mix, is a PAWS Chicago alumni. I adopted her in 2008 and she is now five years old. Although she can be quite a handful at times, she is the “love of my life” nonetheless. 

Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?

I’ve volunteered at some of the PETCO and Angels with Tails adoption events.

What value has being a PAWS Chicago volunteer brought you?

I think PAWS Chicago is a wonderful organization and I have learned so much regarding the number and plight of homeless animals in Chicago and throughout Illinois. I’m happy and proud that I can contribute in some small way to the PAWS No Kill mission. I really enjoy working with the PAWS staff and other volunteers. I’ve met so many interesting people and I’m fortunate to have made some great and lasting friendships as a result.