Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Laurie Gentle

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
Now in my fourth year of volunteering, I followed my life-long love of animals to PAWS Chicago when Pat Spratt, friend, neighbor and Development Board Member, first introduced me to the organization.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Realizing that my feline expertise lied only in the ability to spell c-a-t, I knew Dog Town was for me: first as a socializer, newbie comforter and yet-to-be-discovered canine crooner. I soon found the perfect role for me as an Adoption Counselor, where all the aspects of PAWS comes together, when a homeless pet finds their loving forever family. Frankly, I think I’ve got the best gig going:  guiding people to make the perfect match, supporting their decision and handing over the excited and grateful new family member.

Wanting to expand my role with PAWS Chicago, I was tapped to help produce the Angels with Tails event in my neighborhood, the West Loop.  Chicagoans are very aware of our flagship event, but what many may not know is that hundreds of people are involved in its production, including months of planning.  This year, I was thrilled to be asked to become part of the Michigan and Oak event.

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

Every single adoption, teaching moment, outreach and more are moving moments for me.  Specifically two highlights are important:  I am thrilled to have been part of our Red’s life at PAWS, by sourcing his memory foam beds and bones, designing his mobility outfit and just generally being part of his adoring harem. 


Secondly, I received a call to foster a mommy cat and her four kittens.  Since I am a dog person, I knew the situation was desperate and didn’t hesitate.  Caring for four sweet newborns and gaining the trust of an abandoned cat was very inspirational for me.  That experience punctuates the fact that every single life you save is important – every single one.


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

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I worked in advertising for 10 years, first on the corporate side, then with a national agency.  I then founded and managed a multi-branch Advertising Agency, joining the Inc 500 by becoming the 29th fastest growing company in America.   Happily, I left corporate America and now spend my time at PAWS, sailing and travelling 8-10 times a year with my adoring husband Joe.  Almost every aspect of my business experience is used while volunteering, as PAWS offers such an incredibly wide variety of roles within the organization.


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?

I tell every new volunteer that I meet that PAWS Chicago has nurtured an environment where all of your talents can be utilized.  A volunteer can simply play with and socialize the animals, or use their professional expertise to manage an event.


Besides helping the animals in a very direct way, this atmosphere offers a chance to meet incredible, accomplished, and like-minded people, where you can build lasting relationships.


Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?

Our seven- year-old Pit, Lab and Border Collie rescue, Bella, thinks it’s about time to get a sister or brother to share her cool urban life with…… now, we just need to convince Dad!

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

As an Adoption Counselor, I am very proud to be part of the Angels with Tails event, where the former homeless get to meet their new families.


What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?

There are few things more important than saving lives.  PAWS Chicago has given me that first-hand experience, and importantly, the deep, personal satisfaction of knowing that each effort I make really does impact an animal’s life.  While there are still many homeless animals that need help, the PAWS             experience underscores that saving even one life shows the humanity that each of us a capable of sharing.