What started as community service hours for Alexis Fasseas, a teenager in high school turned out to be a movement in the Chicago area. In 1997, Chicago was euthanizing ninety percent of the animals in the city’s pound – about 40,200 animals being put to sleep. Alexis, her mother Paula, and their family set out to make a change in their community. They started by visiting San Francisco as it had recently transitioned to a ‘no kill’ city, and then began implementing those same tactics and creating PAWS Chicago. Through fundraisers and a spay/neuter clinic, they started to make a change in their backyard. In 2012, PAWS was extremely active in reducing that euthanization number to 17,000 and it continues to lower. They now have two adoption facilities, the clinic, and a training and fostering center. Oprah visited one of the adoption facilities a few years ago, providing great media coverage and the continuing education needed to get Chicago on the right track. All of this out of a class project and an idea on how to make a difference.
When I visited Chicago, I knew that I wanted to find a way to give back to the city. Walking around, I continued to see these painted dogs all over town. They each had their own theme, but all had the same collar with ‘PAWS Chicago‘ across the tag. Even our hotel had one out front. So I jumped in an Uber, pulled up their website, found a list of their most needed items, and headed to Whole Foods to load up. My Uber driver offered to wait on me at Whole Foods as well as at the adoption center. He wanted to be a part of giving back that day.
The PAWS location on 26th Street is so welcoming – open and airy and full of love. I dropped off the items as well as made a financial contribution, and got to play with a few of the pups. By far, it was the best part of the trip.
I am so glad that I am getting to kick off this new page on the website with PAWS. Check back for each city, new non-profits and ways to give back no matter where you are. If PAWS has a place in your heart already, click the button below to donate today.