How Pets Come to PAWS Chicago | PAWS Chicago

How Pets Come to PAWS Chicago

Saving thousands of homeless pets each year.

An engaged community is the foundation of lifesaving

The animal overpopulation problem will only be solved with an engaged community working together.

The cats and dogs who come to PAWS Chicago are rescued from places where they are at great risk. We give them the medical treatment, behavior enrichment and support they need to find loving, lifelong homes.

As a No Kill shelter, we manage our rescue and intake based on our resources and adoption demand. The more community support we have in place, the more animals we can save. It’s how we’ve grown from 60 adoptions in 1998 to 5,125 in 2016. An engaged community is the foundation of lifesaving.

Pets come to PAWS Chicago based on two primary rescue priorities:

  • Building a No Kill Chicago: Every year, Chicago moves closer to No Kill status. Last year, Chicago Animal Care & Control had a record-breaking year of lifesaving. 
  • Ensuring a Wide Range of Pets Is Available for Adoption: We want everyone to think rescue first. This means we need a variety of ages, sizes, breeds and mixes available for adoption. With estimates showing 2-4 million pets killed in the United States each year, we fail when people cannot find the animal they want in a shelter. That’s where our transport partners come in.

* 2016 data is not yet available from all Chicago shelters

Work toward our goal of a No Kill Chicago

We prioritize saving animals in our community. Our source of animals, in order of priority, is:

  1. Chicago Animal Care & Control: Currently, around 15,000 pets come through the city pound’s doors each year. Since our founding days, these animals have been our primary focus. (See A History of Helping Chicago Animal Care & Control to learn more.) We are there every day, rescuing as many pets as we can. At the same time, PAWS for Life and our spay/neuter programs work to prevent homeless pets at the source, keeping them from ever entering shelters in the first place.
  2. A robust Owner Surrender program: This program helps individuals and families in our community who can no longer keep their pets.
  3. Traditional and municipal shelters across Chicagoland: We work to save pets at risk in shelters in our community.
  4. Transport partners: These partners fill in the gaps, providing a supply of puppies for families who would otherwise buy. These puppies come from places where they would otherwise be killed.

Our priority is to build a No Kill Chicago, but saving lives knows no borders. Our Chicago spay/neuter and rescue efforts have been extremely effective with puppies. The city pound no longer has enough puppies to meet adopter demand. So to make sure adopters can find puppies in shelters, we have expended our reach to other communities in Illinois and beyond through a transport network that saves at-risk puppies. People in search of puppies can rescue—not buy—and lives are saved.

Through Trap-Neuter-Return programs, we are also getting closer to the day when we no longer have to see kittens die in Chicago. Because kittens are still available, we do not accept transfers from other communities. But we hope that will change one day very soon.

No Kill Mission

The foundation of everything we do at PAWS Chicago.