There are so many wonderful people at PAWS and when I walk through the doors, I feel welcomed and appreciated. Helping a long-term pup find a home or seeing an adopter’s delight when they meet their new best friend brings me much happiness.
How long have you been volunteering with PAWS Chicago? What originally drew you to the organization?
I’ve been volunteering since the spring of 2011 because dogs have always brought me so much joy and I believe in PAWS Chicago’s No Kill mission. I have a 12 ½ year old boxer mix rescue pup that makes me smile every day and I think all animals should be treated kindly and have a happy home. I am also a long-time runner and I joined TEAM PAWS that same year to fundraise and train for the Chicago Marathon.
Which PAWS Chicago programs/areas do you volunteer in and why?
I started volunteering in dog town at the Lincoln Park Adoption Center because I love working with the dogs. I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of being an L3 Dog Town volunteer since early 2013. I’m definitely multi-dimensional and have volunteered in many areas over the years including adoption counseling, offsite events, foster, Medical Center enrichment, media, teaching new volunteer orientation and training new L2 Dog Town volunteers. In the spring of 2017, I took over managing the dog town enrichment fun run program for PAWS. I schedule and plan weekly fun runs for our long term and high energy dog town residents. I organize volunteers to take our adoptable dogs for a 3 ½ mile run thru the Lincoln Park neighborhood. My primary responsibility is to coordinate volunteers, communicate with staff and keep us all safe so I plan what dogs can go and I assign them to volunteers based on experience. The dogs love the exercise and time outside and it has become a favorite activity for many volunteers. We’ve run close to 800 dogs over 2,700 miles in 2017!
Do you have a favorite experience or memory from your time as a volunteer?
I have so many favorite experiences over the last 7 years. I participated in both rescue missions to Oklahoma in 2013, driving over 28 hours round trip to bring back dogs and cats after the devastating tornados. There was a line around the block to adopt these beautiful animals when we opened on Memorial Day. A more recent favorite memory is from the 2016 Clear the Shelters event when my favorite running buddy found her forever home. Smee, a 2-year-old Husky mix was with us for at least 9 months and she had trouble living in a shelter environment so I would regularly take her out for long runs to the lakefront. I was so happy to see her finally adopted and become the dog I knew she could be. Seeing the dogs I help care for blossom outside of the shelter fills my heart up.
What motivates you to continue volunteering with PAWS Chicago?
I came to PAWS for the animals and there will always be more homeless dogs to help but the people at PAWS inspire me to do more. There are so many wonderful people at PAWS and when I walk through the doors, I feel welcomed and appreciated. Helping a long-term pup find a home or seeing an adopter’s delight when they meet their new best friend brings me much happiness.
Do you have any advice for someone who is considering becoming a volunteer?
I get so much more than I give as a PAWS volunteer so I would tell them to definitely do it. I recommend that they learn as much as they can about the organization, the people and processes and ask how they can be of help. The organization does a great job of understanding people’s different strengths and skills and how volunteers can apply those to help more homeless pets find homes. All animals deserve our compassion and kindness and it takes so many people in the community to help accomplish the PAWS No Kill mission.