What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
The main reason why I wanted to volunteer at PAWS Chicago was because of my family's first rescue Bulldog, Hammer. Although he wasn't a PAWS alum, he did introduce me to rescue animals. Before we adopted him, he was passed from home to home and ended up in five different homes before he was even 10 months old. Despite all this, he was still the most loyal, affectionate dog anyone could ask for. He brought such joy to my life and my family so I wanted to help dogs just like him. So I started doing research on No Kill animal shelters and I found PAWS and was so impressed by how different PAWS was from other shelters. Now I have been volunteering for more than three years and have loved every minute.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
On the weekends you can usually find me at the Adoption Center as a Dog Town Gold Star volunteer, but I have never been one to be one dimensional. I am also an Adoption Counselor, NVO & Dog Town Level 1 trainer, Location Manager and off-site adoption events. I also help with transport when I can. I have also fostered three times but was failed-foster two out of three times.
Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
One memory that definitely stands out is the rescue mission to Oklahoma following the tornadoes. In that close to 40 hour trip, I probably slept under 45 minutes but there wasn't a moment of regret. The Memorial Day after we got back was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. There were so many people lined up to adopt the pups and kitten that we drove 28 hours to rescue. Every adoption at PAWS is special and important but these meant a little more to me because we actually saw where they were before and actually took them out of that situation. These were animals that would have otherwise been euthanized had we not went on that trip. Seeing almost all of them find their forever homes made it worth the 2 ½ days of no sleep.
How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?
I'm a marketing analyst so there aren't a lot of skills that directly translate over but in my work, organization and deadlines are always important. This OCD part of me has definitely helped when I am a Location Manager at the Adoption Center or at an off-site events.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
I volunteer at PAWS because without PAWS, I would not have my two pitties and without them, my life would be pretty boring. My dogs keep me busy and even though they can be little brats sometimes, I can't imagine my life without them. I love helping people find their new family member because I know how much joy that dog will bring that family. If you're not involved in animal rescue, it may not seem like a big deal for one dog to find a home but it's a big deal to that family and I know, it is an even bigger deal to that dog.
Do you have any pets at home?
I personally have two Pit Bull mixes who are PAWS alum. I adopted Cookie in 2011, Brady in 2012 and then my mom adopted Sandy (German Shepherd/Sheltie mix) in 2013. It seems like every summer someone in my family adopts a dog from PAWS.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?
I have volunteered as a dog handler at pretty much all the big special event like the Fur Ball, Animal Magnetism, the Beach Party and Angels with Tails. I also regularly volunteer as a Location Manager at the Highland Park adoption events.
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?
PAWS has definitely had a positive impact on my life. Because of PAWS, I have my two dogs and have met some of the most passionate and caring people. It's also nice to know that if I'm having a hard day at work, I can also head over to the Adoption Center and play with puppies. PAWS helps so many animals day after day and I am proud to be a small part of that. Dogs (and cats) make this world better, so why not help make their world better.