Changes to PAWS services in light of COVID-19: We continue rescuing animals! Adoptions and foster by appointment only; clinic appointments available for sick pets; walk-in vaccine clinics suspended. Also, the Emergency Fund for PAWS has been launched to ensure we can keep doing our lifesaving work despite the current crisis.
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Volunteer Spotlights

Meet just a few of the dedicated and passionate volunteers who enable PAWS to save lives every day! PAWS is proud to recognize these volunteers for going above and beyond to serve homeless shelter animals. Join our volunteer family!

Peggy Collins


Peggy has been volunteering at our Northeast Adoption Center since March of 2018. “I like volunteering because I feel that I can help make a difference for the animals that we rescue. I totally love all of the other volunteers that I have met because they all have the same dedication and desire to make it better for all the animals.”

You can find her almost every morning with the cats in our adoption center working hard to make sure they have everything they need before we open for the day. “I like to perform the morning feedings and cleanings because it gives me a chance to get to know the animals. I get such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when they get to go to their forever homes.”

Besides volunteering, Peggy gave fostering a try as well and fostered a senior cat! “I fostered Katniss, a senior cat that has joint issues, but after caring for her I knew that she could never go back to a cage. Today she is running around the house playing with my other 3 cats.”

We are so grateful for volunteers like Peggy! She isn’t afraid of a messy cage, treats the animals as if they are her own, and is ready to help wherever she is needed. We hope she stays with us for many years to come!

Kaye Deppe


Kaye has been volunteering with PAWS for about 9 years. She started with cat care and dog walking at our Old City location, currently has a regular morning cat care shifts at our Grays Ferry location and also works events! “Due to my work schedule, I began focusing on events because of the flexibility of doing those on nights and weekends. I love being a representative for PAWS and interacting with the public about our low-cost wellness clinics and adoptions as well as opportunities to foster, volunteer, and donate.”

Along with all of the work she does in the shelter, Kay started fostering this past year with a focus on small dogs, but is always open to the animal that needs her the most. “I couldn’t say no to fostering a 5 month old kitten named Flip who was recovering from a broken leg. Every foster has given me so much more than I have given them.”

Kaye always goes above and beyond and is always a pleasure to have in the shelter. Just when we thought she couldn’t do more, we were proven wrong! “One of my most memorable volunteer opportunities was picking up a PAWS cat named Angel after she ended up in a Columbus, Ohio shelter 7 years after being adopted. Since I was scheduled to go to Ohio for a family event, I volunteered to bring her back. PAWS worked with a local rescue to get her into a foster home until I could get there a couple weeks later. When PAWS commits to an animal for life, it really means it!”

Kaye’s upbeat attitude, dedication to the animals and willingness to help with any task truly lights up the shelter. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer and hope to have her for many more years!

Zena LeCoff


Zena began as a volunteer at our Northeast Adoption Center and Clinic in 2017. When she began, she was working with the animals in our Adoption Center, but after about a month or so, she decided that she wanted to start working with the kittens in our kitten nursery. “I enjoy working in Maternity and being able to give the kittens and Mommas the love and attention they need to thrive. It’s rewarding to not just clean their cages and spend time with them, but make their space a play area. For the babies who may be sick, it’s important to help them grow into the best version of themselves.”

Besides working in our kitten nursery, Zena also cleans and sterilizes surgical instruments, works adoption events and has fostered 19 animals for PAWS! “I’ve fostered cats and dogs but for me fostering pups has been a true blessing.  I’ve fostered maybe 12 or 13 pups thus far & each pup I feel as if I’m going to be a foster fail! I fall in love with all of them. Whether it’s helping them lose weight, learn how to play, walk on a lead, interact with others, play with a toy it’s all fun. Helping them find a forever home is the best reward.”  Finding forever homes for her foster pups means she can continue fostering future dogs in need!

We are so lucky to have volunteers like Zena at PAWS. They truly make the lives of the animals in the shelter so much better!

Laura Kolibabek


Laura began volunteering at PAWS in 2009 and has volunteered at events, our Old City Adoption Center and currently volunteers at our Northeast Adoption Center! “I started because I had gotten laid off and was looking for something fulfilling to do, and kept volunteering even after I found another job”.

We are so lucky that Laura decided to continue volunteering because she has been a wonderful asset to our team. It is always fun for staff to see a volunteer like Laura blossom and become a support system for other volunteers. She is currently a mentor volunteer and works with new volunteers on their first day to provide a fun and rewarding start!

“I enjoy doing it because I love animals and I would really love for Philadelphia to be a completely no-kill city. I also love seeing the animals go home with their new families, especially the ones who have been in the shelter for a while, and I’ve also gotten to meet a lot of great people.”

We are so lucky to have Laura as a volunteer and hope she continues with us for many more years!

Ryan Walker


Ryan started volunteering in 2012 at our Old City Adoption Center with his then girlfriend, now wife, Lauren-Alice, who is also still a volunteer! “Lauren-Alice had just started volunteering and suggested I come along with her and we help clean cat cages at PAC together. It sounded neat- it was a nice way for us to do something as a couple and it felt great to give back and get involved with something to help the animals.”

Ryan has been part of our Sunday morning team ever since. He is part of a regular team of volunteers who help with the cats before the shelter opens to make sure everything is clean and ready for adopters to meet them. “I donate time and money to PAWS because it’s a great organization and we can see our efforts and donations helping pretty much in real-time. I’ve also met some really incredible people – many folks that we now call friends and I feel like I’m part of a community with many other fantastic volunteers!”

We are so lucky to have Ryan as a volunteer! He makes Sunday mornings a lot more fun at the shelter and we hope he continues to volunteer for many more years!

Amy Bendell


Amy started as a cat care volunteer at our Old City location in August of 2016, but has taken on many other important roles. She is a greeter at our adoption center, helps with new foster parents and applications, and mentoring new volunteers! “I enjoyed mentoring new volunteers and providing a welcome face they could reach out to if they had any questions. It was also really cool whenever I saw one of my mentees step up and become a mentor themselves!”

Along with her volunteer duties, Amy has also fostered 24 cats (and only kept one!), which has had a tremendous impact on PAWS’ lifesaving. “Fostering is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done! I loved seeing how the animals blossomed in a home environment away from the stress of the shelter, meeting with adopters and knowing that the animals were going to the perfect forever home!”

Amy will be moving soon to start a new chapter of her life (new baby and new house in CT!) and we will miss her so much, but she is still going to help out remotely. “I’ve loved being a part of the PAWS family along with the wonderful staff and my fellow volunteers. I’m excited for the upcoming changes in my life, but what makes me the most sad about leaving Philly is that I will be leaving PAWS. I’m just glad that I can still volunteer remotely.” PAWS is so lucky to have Amy as a volunteer no matter where she lives!

Vanessa Silva


Vanessa started volunteering at our Northeast location about a year and half ago and in that short period of time has volunteered over 730 hours! “Whenever I have a free time, I always pick a shift or just swing by to help out. I feel so good volunteering and being at PAWS that sometimes I don’t even want to go home. I always find something to do or some kitties and dogs to cuddle just to stay a little bit more.”

Vanessa began as a cat care volunteer and now works with both cats and dogs, has fostered more than 20 animals (mostly kittens!) and has helped out at adoption events. “Before volunteering I was just in my room depressed and unhappy. Volunteering brought light back to my life, brought me joy and happiness.” Along with all of her hands on work with the animals, she also offers support to our adoptions team by processing applications, which helps animals get out of the shelter and into homes more quickly!

We are so lucky to have Vanessa as a volunteer and hope to work with her for many more years to come!

Carle Testa


Carle started volunteering in April 2012 because her landlord wouldn’t allow her to have pets and she missed having a dog in her life each day. She became a regular dog walker at our Old City location since she lived close enough to walk and continued even after she moved!

“When I moved to the suburbs I continued volunteering not only because of the animals but because of the staff and volunteers who make the organization so great”. After Carle moved out of the city, she changed her volunteer time from mainly our Old City location to our Grays Ferry location, as well as taking dogs out to Adoption events. “One of my favorite parts of volunteering is getting out in the city for events and promoting the PAWS goal of making Philly a no-kill city.”

Carle’s enthusiasm and willingness to jump in wherever needed are only two of the reasons why PAWS is so lucky to have her as a volunteer! And, we hope she continues for many years to come!

Clare Sciulli


Clare has been a volunteer for about 12 years and it is hard to remember PAWS without her! When her schedule allows, Clare will stop into the shelter to take the pups for a walk, but most often she spends her volunteer hours working adoption events. “The reason I do it is because it makes me happy to share what PAWS does and I love spending time with the pups, giving them a fun day out of the shelter and (hopefully) finding their forever family.”

Clare’s enthusiasm about volunteering and her love for the shelter dogs makes her the perfect event volunteer. She is able to talk to people about how to get involved and because of her experience she has worked with new volunteers to help make them feel comfortable. When I asked her what else she enjoys about volunteering, she said ” an added bonus is all of the wonderful PAWS staff and volunteers that I have gotten to meet and become friends with is what I love about volunteering!”

We are so lucky to have Clare as a volunteer and hope that she continues volunteering for many more years to come!

Jesse Bernstein


Jesse has been volunteering at PAWS for almost 5 years at our Old City Adoption Center! “I wanted to volunteer somewhere, and while I was thinking about getting a pet, I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. Archer came to the shelter just as I was thinking about finally getting a cat. I immediately felt a bond with him. After my third Friday morning where he was still there (he was seven and surrounded by a shelter full of kittens!), I told myself if he was there again next week, he was coming home with me. He was… and he did!”

Jesse has been with PAWS such a long time that when he is away, the morning shift seems odd without him! He treats all of the cats as if they were his own and makes sure that everyone has what they need. “Part of what I enjoy about the morning cat care is I like to think of it as getting the cats ready for showtime. It’s our job as the morning volunteers to make them and their space look ready and inviting to possible adopters. It’s nice to think you’re helping save kitty-lives so they can go on to enrich some human ones. I came for the cats, I’ve stayed for the staff and other volunteers (and more cats).”

Jesse’s dedication and commitment are just two reasons we are so lucky to have him as a part of our volunteer team. We hope that he continues to volunteer with us for many more years to come!

Jerry Rosenthal


Jerry Rosenthal started as a PAWS volunteer at our Northeast Adoption Center in 2015. “I was a Probation Officer for 36 years, and a few months before I retired I decided that I wanted to volunteer with animals and found PAWS.”

Ask any staff member at PAWS and they have only good things to say about Jerry. He comes in for his shifts, works hard and makes sure that the animals are taken care of while they wait for their forever home. “I know that my shift won’t be just petting animals for a few hours. Sometimes you have to get down on your knees and scrub cages, but it is a labor of love. I don’t even consider it to be work – I really enjoy it.”

Jerry’s positive attitude and willingness to jump in where needed are just a few reasons why we are so grateful to have him as a volunteer!

Kimberly Pollock


Kim began as a dog walking volunteer at our Old City Adoption center in April 2017. “My favorite thing about volunteering is definitely helping the animals get into their forever homes (and helping people find the perfect match to complete their families) alongside the tireless PAWS staff and volunteers who are a wonderful bunch of people.”

Kim is involved in so many areas as a PAWS volunteer. Along with caring for shelter animals, Kim represents PAWS at adoption and fundraising events around the city, leads orientations to bring new volunteers into the fold, is a foster parent (she is a “dog person” who has fostered three cats!), and an and comes to the shelter every Saturday to help process adoptions. “PAWS has done so much for me in the short time I’ve been a volunteer; I’ve made so many connections and friends and it’s wonderful spending time with everyone involved in the organization. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence, which has helped me plenty in my everyday life, and I get to spend time with dogs and cats whenever I’m there! It’s the best”.

Kim brings happy, positive energy every time she volunteers and we are so lucky to have her!

Barbara Morrison


Barbara began as a cat care volunteer at our Old City Adoption Center in October 2011. After caring for the cats, she gradually began working with the dogs at the Old City and Grays Ferry PAWS locations, as well. “My love for animals drew me to PAWS. If there is anything I can do to save lives, care for them and make them feel loved until they get a home, then it’s rewarding to me. I’m happy I helped in a small way.”

Now, you can find Barbara walking dogs, helping at adoption events, leading fundraising teams and filling in wherever she is most needed. “Events are the biggest part of my volunteering. I can talk to the public informing them of what PAWS has to offer while raising funds to help save more lives.”

We are so lucky to have Barbara as a volunteer and hope to work with her for many more years to come!

Leigh Zerbe


Leigh began volunteering with the dogs and cats at PAWS in May 2013. “I had read about PAWS well before I retired. I knew that it would be the first place for me to put my energy. I have always had a dog and/or cat in my life. My very 1st dog was given to me on my 2nd birthday – a gift from my father’s fraternity brothers.”

For a few years she was a volunteer at multiple PAWS locations, but now is a regular volunteer at our Old City location twice a week. If Leigh is away and not in for her regular shift, it feels strange without her! She is such a huge part of our PAWS family and we love having her as a volunteer. “Our current canine family member is a rescue named Lily who let us know immediately that she loved people but did not get along well with other 4-legged creatures. Thus, I get my cat and kitten ‘fix’ spending time at PAWS.” We are so lucky to have Leigh and hope that she spends many more years with us!

Merle Jaffe


Merle began volunteering at the PAWS Old City Adoption Center in 2011 and after a short break joined the Cat Socialization Team at our Grays Ferry Wellness Clinic. “I have tried to keep my PAWS day ‘sacred’ – I look forward to it so much! I enjoy being a part of a like-minded community and I’m proud to contribute, even in a small way, to what PAWS has accomplished. ” Whether working at events, contributing to our various fundraisers or working in the cat room, Merle has contributed in a huge way to PAWS!

“When people ask me how many cats I have I always tell them 28, because each week I feel – for just a little while – that I want the best for all the cats in the shelter. So whether it is cuddling, cleaning or just a pet and and a dry blanket, I’m happy to be of service.” Merle’s compassion and dedication to the animals at PAWS is exceptional. We are so lucky to have had her as a part of the PAWS family for so many years and hope she continues to volunteer for many more to come!

Sarah Collett


Sarah became a volunteer with PAWS in 2012 where she started at our Old City Adoption Center. Soon after she started volunteering, she changed locations and joined the cat socialization program at our Grays Ferry Wellness Clinic. “Who doesn’t want to cuddle cats? I look forward to every Thursday afternoon with my fellow socializer Merle, which I call my happy time.” Sarah also became a foster mom when she took in a senior cat who was not doing well in the shelter. Sarah adopted her and they have been happily living together for almost four years!

When we asked Sarah what her favorite part of volunteering was, she said, “I love being part of this community and watching all the cats go to their forever homes.” Sarah is so compassionate and cares for the animals as if they were her own. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer at PAWS!

Miriam Silberstein


Miriam began volunteering ​with PAWS ​​in July 2014​ at our Old City Adoption Center and has gone from cat care helper to volunteer extraordinaire​!​ ​ She started with a weekly cat care shift and now she leads volunteer orientations, fosters kittens (adopting one litter herself!) and supports the staff in performing adoptions.

“​My favorite thing about serving as an adoptions assistant is helping people find their cat soulmate. ​​ I once had a cat jump up on a woman’s shoulder, which I thought meant the meet wasn’t going so well, but she loved it and ended up adopting the cat! ​Everyone is looking for something a little different, so when you find that perfect match, it’s magical!​ It’s so great that PAWS takes the time to educate adopters on the importance of cat basics to set them up for success–it also lets me gush about cats to people, which is part of the fun!​”​

​When we asked Miriam about why she volunteers, she said, “I also love the staff and other volunteers at PAWS. It’s such a supportive group of people all committed to the same thing. I always come home in a good mood after a PAWS shift, even if it followed a bad day at work, because it’s such a special place.​”

Miriam brings such a positive attitude along with dedication to the PAWS team and we are so lucky to have her!

Lee Cullen


Lee began as a volunteer for PAWS at our Northeast Adoption Center in June 2014. He was part of one of the very first volunteer groups at that facility and has been with PAWS ever since! “I was looking for a place to do some good​ and​ saw the article in the NorthEast Times about PAWS opening another no-kill shelter and knew that was the place for me.​”​

Since beginning with PAWS in 2014, Lee has become such an integral part of our team. You can find Lee taking care of the animals, doing laundry and even training new volunteers to help them become comfortable when they are getting started. “It is very rewarding being involved with cats, kittens and dogs. I love helping the animals find the home of a lifetime. How could anyone not volunteer at a no-kill shelter like PAWS?”

We are so lucky to have Lee as a part of the PAWS team and hope to have him for many years to come!

Bidisha Mukherjee


Bidisha began as a volunteer for PAWS in December 2013 in both our Adoption Center in Old City and our Wellness Clinic in Southwest Philadelphia. “I LOVE volunteering with PAWS because of the sheer joy of spending time with the animals and being part of a noble cause. Not Disneyland, THIS is the HAPPIEST place on Earth for me!”

Since beginning in 2013, Bidisha has volunteered in every department at PAWS! She has volunteered at adoption events, photographed adoptable animals for the website, assisted with administrative work and was recently accepted as a Clinic Services intern. “This experience has taught me patience, tolerance and to be a genuine human being and I am always inspired by the passionate dedication of the staff and other volunteers.”

Bidisha is an asset to our team at PAWS and we are so lucky to have her!

Nydia Collazo


Nydia began her time with PAWS six years ago helping out at an offsite cat adoption location inside Petsmart. Since then, she has become an asset to our volunteer program. “It’s a joy spending time with the animals and thrilling to see them heading to their new homes.”

As a volunteer, Nydia took on the role as site leader for our off-site adoption center, volunteered at adoption events, cares for cats at our Northeast Adoption Center, and assists with administrative work such as processing applications. When asked what she likes most about volunteering, she said, “Overall, I just enjoy helping out wherever I can and working with such a fine group of people.”

We are very lucky to have Nydia and hopes she stays a member of the PAWS family for many more years!

Lori Tustin


Lori began as a PAWS volunteer in 2008 after learning about PAWS at an adoption event. She started as a volunteer at our Old City adoption Center and then transferred to our off-site Petsmart location. When asked what she loved most about volunteering, she said, “I loved the 4+ years there as I was involved with not only the cat care but also facilitating adoptions. Helping to make those connections was such an incredible feeling. Seeing a long-term resident finally find their forever home would always bring me to tears.”

For the past 3+ years, Lori has been a vital part of our event team going out into the community and talking to people about PAWS. “One of the greatest gifts that PAWS has given me is the opportunity to meet some of the most incredibly wonderful people. I am so blessed and grateful for the friendships I have made through my volunteering and look forward to many more years with this amazing organization.”

We feel the same way about Lori and hope that we have the chance to work with her for many more years!

Lauren-Alice Lamanna


Lauren-Alice started volunteering in 2012 and became a very active volunteer immediately (even recruiting her now-husband as a volunteer). She leads new volunteer orientation at the PAWS adoption center at 2nd and Arch, represents PAWS at adoption events, and volunteers for cat care.

“Aside from the wonderful animals, what keeps me coming back to PAWS is the incredible staff and volunteers. Seeing how deeply the staff cares and advocates for the animals is inspiring, and I have been able to meet so many amazing people – and lifelong friends – through PAWS. It’s truly my happy place.”

Kathy Plover


Kathy is a longtime PAWS volunteer who joined the PAWS family more than seven years ago. “I love everything about volunteering – taking care of the mom cats and kittens in the maternity room and walking dogs at the Northeast location, meeting other volunteers (I haven’t even scratched the surface there), and speaking with people about PAWS at events.”

Kathy has volunteered at all three PAWS locations, helped care for cats at an off-site PetSmart location, and represented PAWS at countless adoption events throughout the city. She has also adopted from PAWS! “I met my three best four-legged buddies while volunteering. Jingles in 2011, Gunner was my foster from 2013 (just 12 oz. when I brought him home), and Elvis came home in 2014 after I met his foster parent at an adoption event.” Kathy and her cats made a TV appearance to spread the word about PAWS!

Kathy’s dedication to the animals at PAWS is more than above and beyond and PAWS is grateful to have her as a volunteer!

Casey McGuigan


Casey began volunteering in November 2014 helping with cat care at our Old City Adoption Center and after a few months started to volunteer with dogs and at adoption events out in the community.

When we asked Casey to talk to us about her experience, she said, “I truly cannot put into words how rewarding volunteering with PAWS has been. Knowing that you’re helping to complete families and change lives forever never gets old.”

Currently, Casey goes above and beyond as an adoptions assistant on the weekends, leads weekday orientations, helps to process foster applications and as a foster parent! “I’m grateful for all of the friends I’ve made and all of the experiences I’ve had as a volunteer. Being a PAWS volunteer adds so much joy to my life!”

Having Casey as a volunteer has brought joy to the staff as well! PAWS is very lucky to have her as part of our team!

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