What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
I had been thinking about volunteering at a shelter for a long time, but never made the time to do it. Last year, I joined TEAM PAWS for the Chicago Marathon in February 2012 and it was around then that I started to volunteer. I grew so attached to some of the cats that I was spending most of my weekdays and entire weekends at PAWS.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
I’m a Kitty City girl. I love dogs too, but just have a better connection with cats. I have also been a foster once, but joined the “Failed Foster” club with my first and only foster cat, Ivory.
Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
There are actually several stories that have touched my heart. So many of the animals that come into PAWS have had rough lives and never knew what it was like to be in a safe, happy and loving home. Every adoption makes me happy.
How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?
As a Level 2 volunteer, I teach Kitty City Level 1 orientation classes, as well as act as a weekday lead. I have noticed stronger leadership skills in my career as a result of my involvement with PAWS.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
As a lifetime pet owner (dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, mice and hamsters), I have always felt strongly about animal welfare. My wonderful parents have always showed compassion for an animal in need and this is something that has been passed on to me and my three siblings. As a family, we never turned down an animal in need. If an animal needed us, we cared for it. My family even bottle-fed and raised three kittens after the mother died when they were only eight-days-old. They are now 12 and still in our family!
I love what PAWS is doing for Chicago’s homeless pets and I fully support and believe in their mission. They are well on their way to making Chicago a No Kill city! Since opening in 1997, the euthanization rates have dropped by more than 60%. I am so proud to be part of something as great as this.
Do you have any pets at home?
After a long foster period of five months, I officially adopted Ivory from PAWS in March 2013. He and my 10-year-old Calico were instantly best friends. All I know is that Ivory was a very special case and came into the PAWS program through the Glencoe Police Department. He’s an older man, at nine-years-old, with a Level 2 heart murmur and special diet, but has the energy of a kitten! He’s a fantastic cat and living a very spoiled life.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that support animals?
I was part of TEAM PAWS for the Chicago Marathon 2012 and volunteered at the Fur Ball in November 2012.
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?
My decision to join TEAM PAWS Chicago and start volunteering at the Adoption Center was one of the best things that I have done. As a Kitty City instructor, I stress the importance of educating the community about what PAWS does for Chicago’s homeless pets. I also educate people about spay/neuter programs, microchipping, and about unnecessary surgical procedures on pets, such as declawing, debarking, and docking tails. As a PAWS volunteer, I am a leader, an educator, a matchmaker, and of course, a warm lap for the kitty city residents to nap in.