Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Laura Slivka

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago? 

When I decided to run my first marathon, I knew I wanted to run it for a charity:  PAWS Chicago.  After my second year running for TEAM PAWS, I felt I needed to do more than just fundraise. I signed up for my volunteer orientation in October of 2011 and have been volunteering regularly ever since.


Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?   

 I spend most of my time volunteering in Dog Town and doing Adoption Counseling. I also teach the Level 1 Training class once a week because I love to meet the new volunteers.  I recently started volunteering in Kitty City in hopes of learning more about cats as well. I run for TEAM PAWS for all of my marathons and will be part of the TEAM PAWS group running the Ragnar Relay this summer.


This year PAWS had their 20,000th adoption of a homeless animal at the Adoption and Humane Center and I was lucky enough to be able to be the counselor for this adoption! This is a huge achievement for an organization and so it was very exciting for me! I can’t wait to witness the 40,000th! I enjoy getting to be a part of the adoption process for these animals because I love hearing about how the new families plan to care for the dogs. I know how so many of the dogs have had to struggle before they came into PAWS; it is such a great feeling when you see they will spend the rest of their time being safe and happy.


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

I am a Sustainable Construction Manager and am responsible for tracking the progress on our sustainability standards and LEED requirements in addition to managing the schedules, budgets, and contracts on certain projects.  A lot of the schedules I work on are fast paced and can be challenging which is something I enjoy. I’ve had to help train co-workers in different processes we use and that has made me very comfortable with leading the Level 1 Training classes for new volunteers.


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

When I first started volunteering, I assumed it would be something I would do a couple times a month but now I find myself volunteering at least 3-4 times a week! I had no idea how much of a difference volunteering could make in my life. I have made so many new friends between the staff, volunteers, and other TEAM PAWS runners. I volunteer almost every Friday night and at the end of a long week, there’s nothing better than getting some puppy kisses and tail wags to help me unwind. Whenever I start to feel stressed out, I look at all of the animals at PAWS who are so loving and happy despite everything they have been through. It certainly puts things into perspective!


Do you have any pets at home?

I have two dogs at home. Wrigley Bear is my 11 year old German Shepherd who was found as a stray in Wisconsin. I adopted her when she was five and at first she was really nervous to be in a new home but I knew she would be a sweet and smart dog. You know you have a great dog when other dog owners tell you that your dog is the most perfect dog they’ve ever met!


I also have a four-year-old Lab/Mastiff named Dex who was found as a stray in Kentucky. He is my 130lb lap dog who loves to get into the trash and steal any food he can find. He’s a trouble maker but he is a giant sweetheart and makes fans everywhere he goes.  Knowing both of my dogs were strays at one point was my motivation for joining TEAM PAWS so I could help other people find their perfect family members among these homeless animals.   


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

I love to spend as much time as I can at the Adoption Center but I do sign up to volunteer at the special events, too. I’ve volunteered at Angels with Tails and the Fur Ball as well as media events and pet store adoption events. I have run five marathons for TEAM PAWS and will be representing TEAM PAWS again at another marathon in March! I plan on dedicating each mile to a dog I’ve worked with at PAWS.


What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago provided you?

After becoming a Level 2 volunteer I had the opportunity to tour Chicago Animal Care and Control. We were shown all of the steps dogs and cats go through when they are brought into their facility. The staff and volunteers there do an amazing job, especially considering how many animals they have in their facility at one time. It made me realize how important PAWS Chicago is to this city and all of the homeless animals. Knowing I get to be a part of finding these animals a home is something I don’t take for granted. I am so grateful for everything PAWS Chicago does and I can’t imagine my life without PAWS.