Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Wayne Gailis

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
I began volunteering at PAWS three years ago because I was impressed by PAWS Chicago’s approach to saving the lives of dogs and cats – not only through adoptions but also through the spay/neuter clinic, legislation and education.   

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Because there are so few Level 3 volunteers, I spend most of my time working with Level 3 dogs which are dogs that need more socialization, training, and will need the right home environment.  They are some of our most intelligent, loving and enjoyable dogs.  When I work with them it really makes my day.

Is there one favorite experience or fondest memory that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?

Of course, we are all touched by Red, our friendly Pit Bull Terrier who was shot and paralyzed when defending his owner when he was attacked.  It is gratifying whenever a dog, who has been at PAWS for many, many months and nobody has wanted to adopt, leaves the building wagging his/her tail with a smiling new owner.

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

I tutor French, Spanish and English as a second language.  I use the same skills to work with dogs and to help people choose the right dog for them and to work with him/her effectively.

Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer at PAWS Chicago because I believe so strongly in our mission, and working with the animals gives me so much satisfaction.  It has been a great teaching, learning experience.  I love my dogs and I have made new friends.  The entire staff has been so supportive of me to learn and take on more responsibility.

Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?

I have several dogs and cats.  Ryno is my PAWS rescue dog.  He came to Animal Care and Control, neglected and with an embedded collar.  Although he needed socialization and training, he is now a perfect gentleman.

In addition, a friend of mine adopted a PAWS cat.  Before he passed away, I promised that I would take and care for his cat.  She is affectionate and loving and has added another dimension to my life.

Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?

I volunteered at the Donors Dinner, the Marathon Runners Dinner, and The Fur Ball.

What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?

I have learned so much.  There is no such thing as a "bad breed" of dogs.  If there is a problem, it is usually due to something that has been done to the dog.  Also, within every breed, every dog is different. Dogs live in the moment.  They do not regret the past or worry about the future.  Working with them can help us do the same.

I would encourage anyone who is dealing with stress, problems, and especially with loss, to volunteers at PAWS Chicago.  From my volunteer experience, I have received much more than I have given.