What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
My relationship with PAWS Chicago started in 2010 when I participated in my first Run for Their Lives run/walk. I live right by the park where the race is held. I just happened to be out on my daily jog the year prior when the run/walk was in full swing. I saw the participants and all the dogs. I was sold on the organization from that point on. I joined the Professional Board in 2012. Kitty City training started in early 2013 followed immediately by Kitty City volunteering and fostering out of the Rescue & Recovery Center. This year I joined TEAM PAWS and I will be proudly wearing the team singlet in about 10 races this year.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
I started as a Kitty City evening shift volunteer. Shortly after, I started also helping out on weekends at the Rescue & Recovery Center. By my second weekend helping out at the rescue center, I was taking home foster kittens who were motherless and sick. That seems to be my primary focus right now. I will help out at the Adoption Center, special events and puppy transport, but my heart lives at the Rescue & Recovery Center. I will help out with any task that needs to be done there but I especially enjoy helping out with duties at the foster desk.
Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
Every experience with the animals at PAWS touches me. I remember crying when I had to give my first foster kitten back. After fretting over her for a few days afterwards, I went to visit her at the Adoption Center. She was happily playing with the other kittens. I don’t even think she remembered me. That was Pita.
Another favorite story of mine is the weekend in July when I walked into the Rescue & Recovery Center to help out in the laundry room, shortly after the second rescue mission from Oklahoma. When I walked into the Center, I took a dog named Joanna on a walk who needed a break from her newborn puppies. Joanna was a tall, too thin, very gentle old soul rescued from Oklahoma when her pups were only two days old. We walked around the block twice and fell in love with her. I inquired about Joanna a few days later. She remained un-fostered and the next thing you know, I’m on the phone arranging for a dog walker/puppy sitter while driving to the Center to pick the family up and bring them to my home. I so enjoyed taking Joanna for walks in the neighborhood. Everyone who met her fell in love with her and her story. It was difficult giving her up but I live in a condo and she needed room to romp. She was quickly adopted at a Highland Park adoption event. I couldn’t be happier for her.
My last touching story is my current one. I responded to an email about two pregnant cats at Animal Care & Control (the city pound) who could not be pulled unless fosters were arranged. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to take in one of the pregnant mamas. A week after bringing Nikita home, she went into labor and five beautiful kittens were born. She happily nursed them for five days when they became very congested and could no longer nurse and were losing weight quickly. After some immediate care, I contacted PAWS Chicago’s foster hotline and returned them to the Clinic. I was taught how to monitor them for dehydration and how to administer fluids. We packed up some supplies and the family and I went back home. And so the vigil began. A vet tech and I provided the kittens with round-the-clock care. Together we fussed over these sick little kittens; they were fed every 3-4 hours. They were steamed. They were given fluids and medicine. After a few days their condition improved. By day ten they were ready be bottle fed. Although many tears and personal hours were expended on this foster family, the experience has been heart lifting in the end. It’s so wonderful to see these kittens now. Today, they are seven weeks old; they are healthy and happy. Keep an eye out for them…McDreamy, Mr. Jones, Starla and Celeste!
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
I have a big soft spot in my heart for animals, those in need especially. PAWS does such a good job in transforming the health and spirit of the animals who come through their front door. Such a great network of dedicated employees and volunteers, it’s hard to not get swept up in all that love. I get to see the animals when they first arrive at the Rescue & Recovery Center. Some are scared, broken, sick and dejected. They are all helpless. Then I get to see the same animals, weeks later, at the Adoption Center when they are healed, healthy and full of hopes and dreams. It’s wonderful to see this transformation first hand. The hard days are over when an animal is under the caring wings of PAWS Chicago.
Do you have any pets at home?
I have three adult male cats at home. Porkchop, Burrito (from PAWS Chicago) and Dozer, who I fostered last summer from the Adoption Center and decided to adopt.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?
I volunteered at Angel for Tails at Lincoln Square and attended Beach Party last year. Both events were so much fun. I also run in and fundraise for Run for Their Lives. That’s the running event I truly look forward to every year.
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?
Volunteering and fostering for PAWS has reinforced for me the importance of commitment. It takes many committed people to turn the lives of these homeless animals around. It’s also a team effort. So many tasks are required to save a life. It requires transport, care giving, medical attention, fostering, nurturing, fundraising, office administration just to name a few. The sum of each employee’s and volunteers committed time adds up to a really great thing. I’m proud to be part of this selfless organization that is PAWS Chicago.