1996 | PAWS Chicago


Before PAWS: Volunteering at a Traditional Shelter

Discovering the Truth About the Killing

When St. Ignatius high school sophomore Alexis Fasseas signed up to volunteer at a local animal shelter to fulfill her community service requirement, she envisioned a heartwarming experience playing with puppies and kittens. She had no idea that the vast majority of pets entering were leaving in body bags. 

Unfortunately, what Alexis saw was the reality in almost every large-scale humane society in the country. Lost or abandoned animals coming through the doors looking for a new beginning. People giving up animals thinking the humane society would find a new home for their pet. Very few people realizing that euthanasia was a commonly accepted “humane” solution for homeless pets.

At the shelter where Alexis was volunteering, around 65% of the more than 15,000 pets entering each year were being killed. Alexis would go home in tears, begging her mother, Paula, a local business owner, to get involved. “Mom, you taught us to love animals. If those of us who love them don’t help, who will?” she pleaded.

Paula met with the shelter director and helped craft awareness and engagement strategies to help them create change by talking about pet homelessness. She knew if people knew what was going on, they would want to help. But the shelter said they couldn’t talk about the killing. They didn’t want to be blamed. Instead, they wanted to focus on humane education as a way to change the next generation. 

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