Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Julie Wickboldt

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  

As I’ve grown, so has this passion inside of me to help animals, so when I graduated from DePaul I knew that I wanted to give some of my time to helping homeless animals, after researching different shelters and volunteering at shelters closer to my home, I decided that PAWS Chicago was the rescue for me.  I cannot believe the quality of life these animals have, the cleanliness to the private rooms that each dog or cat get, all the way to the medical treatment that each and every animal that walks through the rescue and recovery center gets.  I believe that PAWS Chicago has really redefined what it is to run an animal rescue.  Seeing this forward way of running a shelter really drew me to PAWS Chicago.  I started volunteering in February 2013 and can’t imagine not being a part of the PAWS Chicago team.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

My primary focus is in the foster program and at 26th street.  I believe that the foster program is important to the livelihood of PAWS Chicago.  The more pets that they are able to place into loving foster homes, the more pets that they are able to take in.  Which in the ends means more rescued animals. Which is why PAWS Chicago was created.

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

In the short time that I have been part of the PAWS Chicago team, I have seen so many different experiences that have really touched my heart.  I have two that really mean a lot to me.  The first experience was with my foster dog Kayla.  Kayla was between the ages of 11-13 and was given back to PAWS Chicago by her owners.  When PAWS received her, she had an array of health problems.  PAWS Chicago veterinarians performed multiple mass removals and gave her all proper medicine that they could to try to treat her symptoms.  In the end it was determined that Kayla was suffering from thyroid cancer. The vets then started her on medicine to try and treat it.  Up until the day Kayla passed, PAWS did everything that they possibly could to help Kayla, never once did her age come into play on whether or not they should proceed with treatments. They truly gave her the best life that they could, genuinely caring about her.  To see PAWS Chicago’s efforts to save Kayla and to make her as comfortable as possible, really made me sit back and think what a wonderful animal rescue this is, where some rescues would have put Kayla down instead of spending the money on her, they fought for her, which shows how much they truly want to help every animal they can no matter the age or issue. 

The second experience that really touched my heart was when my husband and I were at PAWS Chicago’s Rescue & Recovery Center at midnight to help unload the transport vehicles that had gone to Oklahoma to help rescue some animals who were up for euthanasia.  To see the look on these cats and dogs when they were able to exit the vans was remarkable.  Again, I was able to see that PAWS Chicago did not just take the animals who would be able to be put up for adoption in a few short days, they also took animals who needed medical care. I believe that you can tell a lot about an organization when you can see what they truly do when no one is looking.  And when no one is looking, PAWS Chicago still does the right thing, and still goes and helps those animals who otherwise would not have gotten a chance.  When I was unloading the animals from Oklahoma all I could keep thinking was, wow these animals really just won the lottery.

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

I currently work at a high volume popular restaurant; I have the privilege of talking to many different individuals a day.  And whenever I get the chance to tell people about PAWS Chicago and the amazing work that they do, I take it.  I figure that if even one person ends up going to the website and either deciding to adopt or volunteer, it is one more animal that has found a forever home.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer at PAWS Chicago because there is no other animal rescue group that I would rather be giving my time to. I am truly a fan of everything that PAWS Chicago does for the animals not only in our own community but also in different states.

Do you have any pets at home?

I have two PAWS Chicago alumni pets, both dogs.  I have Charlie who is around 10-months-old and then I have Keegan who is around one and a half. They are both so incredibly sweet.

What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you? 

Volunteering at PAWS Chicago has only strengthened and confirmed the values I have always felt in my heart toward animals - kindness, compassion and love.