PAWS Chicago no-kill shelter hopes to save more animals with $ 9 million renovation


When Quigley, a once-lively three-year-old terrier mix arrived at PAWS Medical Center two weeks ago, things looked bleak.

The black and white dog was in poor condition. He had a case of heartworm, severe pneumonia and intestinal parasites. But PAWS took it anyway.

“Two days ago, we didn’t know if he would make it,” said Paula Fasseas, the founder of the organization.

But on Wednesday, Quigley, who was receiving intravenous treatment and oxygen therapy, happily wagged his tail at Fasseas.

“It’s so heartwarming, they are so kind and innocent, and they can’t stop nothing from what has happened,” she said. “Their owners were quite irresponsible and they got sick and abandoned them.”

Quigley, a three-year-old terrier with heartworm disease, receives several IV antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and oxygen therapy at the renovated PAWS Medical Center in South Lawndale.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) Chicago, an organization that works to end the euthanasia of pets through adoption and treatment, has reopened its Chicago medical center after a $ 9 million renovation, in the hope of saving more cats and dogs from euthanasia.

The center, located at 3516 W. 26th St. in Little Village, has increased the number of animals it can treat and expanded its spay and neuter clinic, which provides the procedures at low cost to surrounding communities on the side. South West.

When PAWS was founded in 1997, Chicago Animal Care and Control had euthanized about 90% of all animals entering the agency – tens of thousands of cats and dogs each year, Fasseas said. PAWS, which, along with other agencies, is working with the city to take stray animals, has helped reduce that number by more than 91%, and the expansion of the facility hopes to continue the trend.

“We are their voice. They have no voice, ”said Fasseas.

The medical center is able to save 98% of the animals it hosts, about a third of which come from other states with high euthanasia rates.

The medical center includes state-of-the-art operating rooms for animal surgeries and procedures.

The medical center includes state-of-the-art operating rooms for animal surgeries and procedures.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The new renovations lasted four years, and the new 30,000-square-foot hospital has tripled the number of isolation and quarantine units, which are used to house sick animals that can be contagious.

“As long as we can keep them healthy, we can get them adopted,” Fasseas said.

The state-of-the-art center, which is fully funded by donations, includes a dental facility, a laboratory that can perform in-house blood tests, an ultrasound machine, x-ray equipment, and operating rooms for orthopedic surgeries and surgery. removal of tumors.

“We don’t get government funding – we subsidize the government,” Fasseas said with a laugh. “When you think about the number of animals that used to come into Animal Care and Control – they killed 27,000 and now they euthanize 2,000 – it’s a big saving, and it’s so much more humane. “

The medical center’s focus on homeless pets allows it to handle cases that most other agencies and organizations cannot, Fasseas said. More than 25,000 pets per year pass through the facility through various programs, a number that is likely to increase dramatically after renovations.

PAWS founder Paula Fasseas (third from left) and CEO Susanna Homan (in blue blouse) cut the ribbon for the new facility on Wednesday.

PAWS founder Paula Fasseas and CEO Susanna Homan cut the ribbon for the new facility on Wednesday.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

Many of these animals are subject to PAWS ‘sterilization and sterilization program, which has also been expanded. While the program isn’t as “sexy,” making fundraising more difficult, it’s the most crucial part of making Chicago a deathless city for cats and dogs, said Fasseas.

“Once you have reduced the volume and the problem, then [for] those who are here, there are resources to help them, ”she said.

And it works. PAWS performs approximately 15,000 surgeries per year, with approximately 4,000 people on the waiting list for assistance with their pets.

Low-income neighborhoods generally have the highest rates of stray animals, which Fasseas attributes to the high cost of spaying and neutering procedures. The operation can often cost dog owners up to $ 1,200, but PAWS charges $ 195 for most dog owners and $ 65 for those who live in underserved zip codes.

Areas around the clinic have seen a dramatic reduction in stray animal reports since PAWS started the program, Fasseas said.

“This is where the need is,” she said, gesturing to the long line of South Siders lining up in the block outside the center. “There is nothing like it in Chicago that specifically targets underfunded communities. “

The facility’s expanded quarantine and isolation facilities feature a medical grade ventilation system with fresh air flow to prevent disease transmission between sick animals, which often occurs in other shelters .

PAWS is hopeful that the new renovations and increased capacity can save animals in Chicago and elsewhere from euthanasia.

PAWS is hopeful that the new renovations and increased capacity can save animals in Chicago and elsewhere from euthanasia.
Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

“The majority of animals killed in shelters entered healthy and became ill in the shelter,” she said.

For Susanna Homan, CEO of PAWS, the impact of the organization goes beyond cats and dogs.

“We have adopted 70,000 pets over the years – think of the number of millions of humans who have been touched by the love of an animal and how it has changed people’s lives,” a- she declared. “Animals only spread love.”

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