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For more than a decade, PAWS Chicago has been on the forefront of pet adoption and population control, serving as the city’s leading no-kill humane group. Through their careful and detailed pet adoption process, PAWS continues to unite loving families with their most devoted companions.
Photographs by Jon Cancelino
PAWS Chicago is the largest no-kill humane organization in the Midwest. Originally founded by Paula Fasseas in 1997 as an advocacy organization formed to raise awareness about pet overpopulation, it has since massively transformed into a comprehensive humane organization—providing new homes for thousands of homeless pets and offering free and low-cost spay and neuter services. Since its inception 13 years ago, the number of homeless dogs and cats killed annually has dropped more than 50 percent. This year, the organization predicts that it will find new homes for more than 4,000 animals through its state-of-the-art adoption facilities in Lincoln Park—the Pippen Fasseas Adoption Center. PAWS Chicago will also sterilize more than 17,000 pets at its Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic.
With its phenomenal results, the organization has drawn a large North Shore following. “So many people on the North Shore love animals, and it’s the shelter that is doing the most productive work,” explains Angie DeMars, a member of the PAWS Board of Directors and a Winnetka resident. “The North Shore likes to support causes that are important and making a difference.” Sheridan Road sat down with four local members and was even given the pleasure of meeting their furry best friends. From volunteering their time to attending one of the organization’s many fund-raisers, these North Shore women are determined to make a difference with the animal overpopulation problem.
While adopting her dog, Mimi, from the city pound nearly a decade ago, Angie DeMars realized there needed to be a change in the animal control system. Too many animals were being euthanized because they couldn’t find homes. She wanted to join an organization working to remedy this problem and turned to PAWS. Her involvement began eight years ago when she attended the first Fur Ball, a pet-friendly black-tie gala, and she has been volunteering ever since, serving on the development board, chairing two Fur Balls, and now as a member of the board of directors.During her time, she witnessed the construction and evolution of the Pippen Fasseas Adoption Center. She and her husband named one of the rooms after their beloved Mimi, who has since passed away. Complete with a pink chandelier, Angie explains that it was a great way to memorialize the dog that first triggered her involvement. And as owner of Noah’s Ark Pet Supply on Elm Street in Winnetka for seven years, she also utilizes her shop as a vehicle for PAWS adoptions. Angie fosters kittens until they are old enough to be neutered or fixed, then adopts them through her shop. She also hosts Mimi’s March, a dog and owner walk, with the Winnetka Park District
every April to raise money for PAWS.
Angie also has two pups of her own: Pawla, a Miniature Poodle rescued from PAWS three years ago, and Petey, a Maltese/Poodle mix. They are named after Paula and Peter Fasseas, who are now two of her closest friends. She emphasizes the extra social rewards of being involved with such a dynamic organization. “All my friends are from PAWS,” she explains. “People who love animals are the best, and I don’t know what I would do without them.”
When she was 10 years old, Heidi Simon’s mother told her that, when she grew up, she would not want many pets in her home. Years later, Heidi has proven her mother wrong. A lifelong animal lover, Heidi became involved with PAWS six years ago, after her friend and co-worker Maggie Ross, owner of the former Downtown Dog Pet Boutique in Lake Forest, joined the PAWS developmental board.
During her involvement with PAWS, Heidi has been impressed with the quality of the organization. Despite the common misconception that shelter animals are inferior or unwanted, many of the PAWS adoptees disprove that stereotype. “They get a bad reputation, but they are so well taken care of,” Heidi says. Not only does PAWS ensure that the animals are treated properly and affectionately, but they also have a detailed process for matching each pet with the appropriate owner. “[PAWS makes sure] each family goes home with the right dog and doesn’t come back,” Heidi explains. “They have great match-ups, all the time.”
Presently, Heidi, who lives in Lake Bluff, looks after her four pets: Bailey and Olivia, Pugs; and PAWS adoptees Phoebe Penelope, a Boston Terrier/Pug mix; and King Leonardis, a white long-haired Persian cat. For their Sheridan Road close-up, Heidi’s clan was joined by Phoebe Penelope’s sister, Bouché (a PAWS adoptee owned by Maggie Ross).
Growing up in Michigan, Dana Fields developed a love for animals at an early age. Her family owned many pets throughout her childhood, including horses, and she even remembers a neighbor who had “trained” the chickadees. “She could go outside and say, ‘Here, chickadees!’ and they would fly onto her hand,” Dana recalls. Observing this remarkable occurrence at a young age, Dana was convinced that all animals should feel safe and appreciated around humans.
Dana, who currently lives in Winnetka with her husband and two children, came to the North Shore with her family in 2005. One year ago, she attended a PAWS development board meeting with her close friend Angie DeMars, and soon found herself falling in love with the association and its work. “PAWS is an incredible, incredible organization,” she says. “It’s run like a corporation, [and it’s] so impressive.” Dana now serves on the development board and was this year’s Desktop Calendar Chair.
At home, Dana is the proud owner of Palmer, a black Labradoodle; Rory, a Standard Poodle; and Lola, a Brussels Griffon. For our photo shoot, Dana, Palmer, and Rory were joined by a female Terrier mix named Fritz, a PAWS dog that is available for
Amy Mack’s husband, Julian, transformed her into a dog lover when they got their first dog about 11 years ago. She had decided to conquer her fear of dogs originating from an incident with a large dog when she was young, and now doesn’t know what she would do without her two pooches: Herve, an English Bulldog, and Trey, a Brussels Griffon. “Pets make life fun and are so rewarding!” she exclaims. “Improving the lives of animals is my great goal in life. I believe that helping animals is so important, as they have no voice.”
Like Angie, Amy initially got involved with PAWS at the first Fur Ball. She attended with a friend, and the two of them took their dogs as dates. “It was the most fun charity event I’d ever attended—everyone was mingling and the fact that people’s dogs were at the event made for great discussion,” she explains. “I decided to learn more about the group, and was truly impressed with PAWS mission and the work they were doing.”
Amy and her husband currently live in Winnetka with their two adorable canines and have been very active with PAWS over the last seven years.
For more information on upcoming events, volunteering, or adopting a pet from their adoption center, visit www.pawschicago.org.
For the gorgeous furniture and outstanding accessories, a special thanks to Antiquaire, 1900 Sheridan Road in Highland Park; Jolie Maison, 643 Central Avenue in Highland Park; Susan Kroeger, 886 Green Bay Road in Winnetka; and Deerpath Carpet & Rug, 838 North Western Avenue in Lake Forest. Also, thank you to Graham & Brown for donating the exquisite wallpaper.
—Evangeline Politis and Jenna Schubert