Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Mark Lukas

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
About 6 years ago, my wife and I volunteered at an Angels with Tails event on Armitage. We really loved the chance to introduce these lovable dogs to potential adopters.  In April 2010, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Adoption Center on Clybourn.  What drew me to PAWS Chicago was the positive experience I’ve had from adopting my beagle, Echo and my Chihuahua, Mouse from PAWS Chicago. Coco, their miniature pinscher sister, is a street rescue who chose to stay with us when we couldn’t find her original family.


Echo, Mouse and Coco have enriched our lives so much that I wanted the opportunity to share this happiness with other families and at the same time, find homes for animals in need.  Now I volunteer in Dog Town. I’m a dog lover at heart, although, I’m always willing to lend a hand wherever they need me.

Is there a favorite experience or fond memory/animal story that has stood out during your time as a volunteer?

I’ve had two stand-out memories in working with the animals.  First, I met Max the miniature pinscher.  Over the two months Max and I spent together, I found him to be a little imp, full of life and love – what a ball of energy!  I had made it my daily goal to help Max find his new family. Finally, a couple came in that I just knew would be the right parents for Max.  I walked the couple to Max’s room and made the introductions. You could tell it was love at first sight – for Max and the couple.  I suggested we take Max to the roof so that they could all play together.  Max quickly showed why he was such a favorite of the volunteers and staff.  Before we knew it, the couple asked to complete their adoption paperwork.  Max had found his forever home.  Way to go, Max!


Another memory was during a week where PAWS Chicago brought in different sports stars to introduce them to the adoption center.  While it was cool to meet a few Cubs players, the most fun was taking some of the more active dogs up to the roof with Andrew Cashner, Cubs pitcher, and Tyler Colvin, Cubs outfielder, and a bag of tennis balls.  Nothing like a 65 mile an hour slider tennis ball to light up a dog’s face…but not sure who loved it more – the dogs or the players. We even joked the Cubs could use a few of these dogs as infielders…   

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

For over 20 years, I had a career on a Chicago area trading floor. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have the opportunity to step back from full-time work to spend more time with my family.  This has allowed me to give my time to something as rewarding as volunteering for PAWS.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer because Echo and Mouse bring our family so much joy and happiness. Since they reward us with so much every day – with love and laughter – I wanted the opportunity to give back.  I also enjoy working with the volunteers and staff that feel the same way I do about these wonderful animals. Their dedication and commitment is impressive and uplifting.


Volunteers come from all walks of life – we’re an incredibly diverse group in so many ways.  It is a pleasure to see that the love of animals brings us all together.  I’ve seen this affection strengthen and enable people to overcome so many obstacles – be it physical or societal – all for the benefit of these wonderful animals.


What has volunteering at PAWS Chicago taught you about yourself?

I’ve learned that you can’t underestimate the importance of volunteering for a cause you care about.  One person can truly make a difference in an animal’s life and in a person’s life in ways that you never imagine.  While it is truly a personal decision as to whether to buy an animal vs. adopting an animal, I strongly encourage anyone considering this decision to first look at adopting.  You are not just rescuing a life, you are making a difference.