PAWS Chicago News item | PAWS Chicago

Volunteer Your Friendship

Aug 30, 2022

PAWS Chicago is looking for new volunteers to join us at our Medical Center! Volunteers are the backbone of PAWS. They make the lifesaving work possible and, yes, the more than 25,000 homeless and at-risk pets we serve each year depend on volunteers every single day.

According to PAWS volunteer Maryellen Friedman, the impact you can make at the Medical Center is both visible and visceral.  

“You can definitely see when an animal comes in and they're scared and shut down; they might be totally closed off and frightened. And then, the more time you spend with them, they come out of their shells—more quickly than you would think. Because they start to trust that this place isn't bad, and these are good people, and I'm being helped,” said Maryellen. 

Maryellen Friedman has been volunteering at the Medical Center, located in Little Village at 3516 W. 26th St., for over five years. She’s also a proud part of our TLC program, which gives volunteers extra training in order to safely spend time with sick and injured pets.  

“It's one class and then the volunteer has to do three sessions with a mentor. It's fun.” 

This additional training gives TLC volunteers the chance to help our most vulnerable pets.  

“I feel like the contagious dogs get the least amount of attention because there are fewer volunteers who can work with them. So, just being able to sit with them and give them TLC is definitely my favorite thing to do here.” 

Many of these pets have diseases that cannot be transmitted to humans or pets that are fully vaccinated. Training also involves the use of PPE to keep from transmitting to other pets at the Medical Center.  

“We can take them into play spaces. We can also give them some enrichment. We do agility exercises and give them treats, like puzzle feeders and kongs, to occupy their brain.” 

TLC volunteers are especially beneficial to our longer-term patients.  

“Some of the sick dogs are here for so long. Like, if a dog has ringworm, it could be a month. If a poor guy comes in with heartworm, they can be here for three to four months or longer. They just need that little extra bit of attention to kind of help them through their recovery.” 

Volunteers can also participate in our clicker training classes.   

“That's really fun, too. And it also lends itself to seeing the benefits because it's really great when you can see a dog progressing in its behavior.” 

There are endless ways you can make a difference at the Medical Center.  

“You can work in shelter medicine where you help the veterinary staff, or you can work in the Lurie Clinic. You can help with community spay and neuter days. You can go work in the pet food pantry. You can pick up animals from under-resourced neighborhoods to bring them in for free spay and neuter or vet care. You can trap cats. You can do administrative work. There's so much to do here, which just makes it really great because there's something for everyone.” 

No matter how you choose to help, our staff is so grateful. 

“The staff is so busy with the deep cleaning and the feeding. The volunteers are able to do that little bit extra. Give longer walks. Spend extra time with the animals. They understand how important volunteers are here and they're so appreciative to have us. They're also just so nice.” 

There are so many pets at the Medical Center who would love to spend time with you. Join our team today and start making a difference!  

Volunteer at the Medical Center