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!

Dale Sturgess

Dale began as a volunteer in 2021 and it is hard to remember PAWS without her! She is currently a staple in our cat room at Grays Ferry every week, but she has also helped with surgery recovery and administrative tasks. “I retired in April 2021 and couldn’t wait for PAWS to allow in-person volunteering. PAWS has my support in Philly because they are the most efficient and broad reaching independent rescue and community partner in this city.  They keep expanding their services of which my favorites are: spay/neuter for community cats, low-cost vet and surgery for owned pets, and the new safety net program.” She even took advantage of our TNR clinic for her outdoor cat, Cassie, who is now a part of her family!
Dale also helps to train new volunteers during their very first shift at PAWS and mentioned this being one of her favorite parts of volunteering. This role is so crucial because it can be intimidating to start something new and she makes sure that new volunteers feel welcomed, answers questions and shows the nuances that can go along with volunteering. “The reason I keep coming back is because I feel appreciated when I volunteer. PAWS staff is friendly, helpful and always grateful for the work that volunteers do. I look forward to coming in every Friday for my regular shift.”
We are so grateful to Dale for spending part of her week with us every week. We hope that she stays with us for many more years to come!

Nicole Perry

Nicole began volunteering with the cats in 2014 at our Old City location because she needed to fulfill a service requirement for yoga teacher training and has never left! “Although I still practice yoga, I never became a yoga teacher, but I still volunteer at PAWS! I volunteer because I can’t take them all in. It feels good to be part of a group of others who care just as much as me about finding loving homes for animals. And it feels absolutely great to see an animal go home or even into foster care.”
Along with volunteering in our Adoption Center, Nicole also helped as an admin volunteer during COVID, mentors new volunteers and even gave fostering a try! Her willingness to jump in and help in different ways makes her an integral part of our team. An example of her willingness to learn, was when we started adopting out guinea pigs at PAWS. “Before volunteering at PAWS, I had never had an interaction with a guinea pig. They make such cute little alien noises! And they are such healthy eaters! I love how they go nuts over a piece of parsley or cilantro. I can’t believe Gingersnap hasn’t been snapped up yet; he’s so sweet and lets you pat him right on the head.”
We are so lucky to have Nicole as a volunteer and hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Emily Aunins

Emily started volunteering in Spring 2022 at our Old City location as a cat care volunteer. Although she has only been volunteering a little over a year, she has already volunteered over 80 hours with the animals and we are so grateful! When we asked Emily about what she enjoys while volunteering, she said, “I’ve been volunteering since last March, and it’s truly one of my favorite parts of the week. I love the staff, and it’s so lovely to give time to make the quality of life for the cats better. I also love when a shy or scared cat starts to come out of their shell.”

Emily brings joy to our weekends, which are usually the two busiest days, so having reliable volunteer support is instrumental to getting animals adopted. And, the bonus for many volunteers is getting to see an animal you love find their home. Emily shared a sweet story about Siva, a favorite of hers: “I also love seeing people fall in love with the cat they end up taking home. I was absolutely in love with Siva, a super sweet and rambunctious boy this past winter who was in the adoption center for close to two months, and it was so special when he was finally adopted!”

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

Drew Takacs

Drew began as a volunteer at our Grays Ferry location at the end of 2021 as we started allowing for new volunteers after the start of COVID. In the beginning of 2023, Drew’s work schedule changed and he started to help with administrative work, specifically working with PAWS staff member Allison Lamond to support our pet food pantry and volunteer program. “I’m able to provide admin work support now one day a week at PAWS and I find that very fulfilling. Anything that I can do to take tasks off of someone’s plate to free them up for other important work, I am happy to do! I see a small and mighty team that is doing a ton of good for the pet population (and by proxy) the people of Philadelphia!”

Along with working in the shelter, he mentioned having a blast working at our modified Mutt Strut, learning the ropes with fellow volunteer, Lois. “I love volunteering at PAWS because I recognize that it is a group of like-minded people who love what they do and are always willing to roll up their collective sleeves to get the work done. I volunteered with both cats and dogs because I do love both equally! A favorite moment is during the morning shift when you get the cat room to go from loud and meowy to quiet and content is amazing.”

In his short time with PAWS so far, Drew has become an integral part of our team at PAWS and we hope he stays with us for many years to come!

Kyle Lund

Kyle started as a volunteer at our Old City location in August 2022 and has already volunteered almost 120 hours in less than a year! He has become such a huge part of our team in such a short period of time. “I’ve always wanted to work with animals in some capacity. Volunteering gives me something to look forward to when I’m feeling lousy, provides me with opportunities to try different things and I have met lots of nice people.”

One of the joys of volunteering for Kyle is seeing cats come out of their shell, so it makes sense that he would also give fostering a try. Fostering is a great way to give an animal a chance to get out of the shelter and into the comfort of a home. “- I tried fostering which is something I never imagined I’d do. It reminds me that I have no clue where I’ll be in the future and that things can be different. I was glad to receive so much support from everyone at PAWS while fostering as well”.

We are so lucky to have Kyle as a volunteer and we hope he continues with PAWS for many more years to come!

Darian Scatton

Darian has been a PAWS volunteer for just a little over one year at our Grays Ferry location and shared a little about how he got started. “I’d been taking stray cats in to get spayed and neutered for around ten years so I was already familiar with Paws from doing that and it was always a positive experience. I’ve also fostered a few cats over the years, and have three of my own who were strays and were rescued from around my house. I’d been wanting to get more involved for a while and thought volunteering would be a good way. ”

One of the best parts of having Darian as a volunteer is he is open to helping in whatever way is needed most – dog care, cat care, admin – it doesn’t matter. He is happy to switch and help in any area when he is in the building. “My favorite part is getting to meet new cats and dogs every week, and getting to spend time with them! They’re all so different and special in their own ways and it’s so nice to be able to experience that on a weekly basis! I also love helping out the wonderful staff and getting to be a part of something that’s making a difference in the city!”

Along with volunteering in the shelter and fostering, Darian has also helped at events and mentored new volunteers. He has become an integral part of our team in a short period of time. We are so lucky to have him and hope he volunteers with PAWS for many more years to come!

Katie Klochan

Katie started as a volunteer a little over 5 years ago working with the cats at our Old City Adoption Center. “I chose PAWS when I first moved to Philly because I love the mission, but I stayed because I love working with everyone, both human and feline.”
She was part of our “Cat PAWSitive” team working with cats to teach them tricks and help socialize with those who were having a hard time. She also mentored new volunteers to get them acquainted with the space and show them the ropes, and it didn’t take long for Katie to become one of our “Rockstar” program volunteers! Rockstar volunteers work more closely with staff on adoption applications, monitoring for illness, and working with the public, and are integral to lifesaving work.
And, if volunteering wasn’t enough, Katie has also fostered about 10 cats through PAWS! “My favorite moments are when I see cats’ true personalities come out because they finally feel safe/start to trust a human, when I see a former foster thriving in their forever home, helping adopters find the perfect cat for them, and hanging out with the regular Sunday Adoption Center crew.”
We are so lucky to have Katie as a volunteer and hope she stays part of the PAWS team for many years to come!

Risa Stolker

Risa has been volunteering as a cat care volunteer for a little over a year ago at our Old City location, but this isn’t her first rodeo. “Years ago I volunteered at a shelter in NY, walking dogs, taking care of cats, and helping with adoptions,” shares Risa, “I wanted to find something similar in Philadelphia and feel so fortunate that PAWS has such a great volunteer program. The dedicated staff, my fellow volunteers, and the community of prospective adopters are truly amazing. I really look forward to my shifts and being around people who share my love for animals. Nothing makes me happier than when people find their cats and cats find their people.”
After just a few shifts, Risa was completing tasks as if she had been a volunteer for many years! So much so that she is now a mentor volunteer for new folks starting their journey with PAWS, and recently represented PAWS (on her own!) at a charity fair. When we asked Risa what her favorite moments about volunteering have been, she said, “My favorite moments are spending time with all of the cats, but I am especially fond of the senior kitties. I also enjoy training new volunteers, learning about animal rescue and welfare from the amazing adoptions staff, making the cat cages and rooms really nice with the coziest blankets, towels, toys, and beds, and volunteering at special events promoting PAWS.”
We are so grateful to have Risa as a volunteer and hope she stays with PAWS for many years to come!

Arianna Hall

Arianna began as a volunteer at our Grays Ferry location in 2021 when we began orientations again after the start of COVID. Lucky for us, she she already had some experience working in a shelter, so getting her onboarded was pretty simple! “I started volunteering at animal shelters shortly after college, because I missed having a pet. I volunteered at my local animal shelter for 3 years before I moved to Philly to attend graduate school. I’ve been volunteering at PAWS for over a year now while I’ve been attending school.”

She became a regular weekly dog volunteer in 2022 and now she starts our Mondays off on the right foot helping out with our pups! It does not matter what the weather is, Arianna is here first thing in the morning ready to help get the dogs the exercise and attention they need to start their day. “What I love about volunteering is being able to see a shut down animal come out of their shell after being shown kindness. I love working with the dogs and helping them find their forever homes”.

And this year, she will also be taking on a role as a mentor to new volunteers who are just beginning their volunteer journey. We know the new volunteers will be in great hands!

We are so lucky to have Arianna as a volunteer and hope she will stay with PAWS for many years to come!

Joan McCallion

Joan lives in the Grays Ferry area with her sassy senior pittie, Roxy, so our Wellness Clinic was right around the corner! She began as a volunteer in 2015 helping with dog care, laundry and other tasks and came with experience in animal welfare. “Before retiring and moving to Philly, I volunteered on weekends at a shelter in New York, caring for the most challenged, unsocialized and neglected dogs. I realized the day that one of these dogs was successfully adopted was just the very best feeling in the world!”

Pretty soon after, however, she started taking on other administrative projects and became a fixture weekly at the Grays Ferry location. And after the pandemic hit, she began helping with remote work, including transcribing voicemails. With hundreds of voicemails coming into our clinics and adoption center, voicemail volunteers play an integral role in supporting frontline staff to manage the high volume calls we receive.

We are so lucky to have Joan as a part of our team and hope she volunteers with us for many years to come!

Sarah Greenlaw

Sarah started volunteering in the Summer of 2018 at our Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic working with the cats. “I was still fairly new to the city and looking for things to do with my time,” says Sarah, “Initially I was volunteering to spend time with cats because my partner is allergic to about 90% of them so I thought we couldn’t adopt – though eventually we ended up adopting a cat anyway.”

She is a staple in our cat room on Sunday afternoons and we love knowing that we can count on her each weekend. She is always up for anything we need – cage cleaning, dishes, laundry, etc. and is also comfortable working with some of our tougher/more stressed kitties. “I love hanging out with the shelter cats and making their experience a little better by figuring out what their specific needs are – I especially love the beat up grumpy looking older cats who get to enjoy things like brushing, treats, and soft blankets for the first time. That, and the scared cats who slowly relax and become friendly are my favorites.”

We are so lucky to have Sarah as a volunteer at PAWS and hope she continues spending her Sundays with us for many more years to come!

Maddie Wescott

Maddie was introduced to PAWS in 2010 when she adopted her “perfect sidekick”, a dog named Mia! “Mia was no longer a puppy, having a hard time at PAWS before I met her, and I cannot imagine my home without her.”

In 2020, Maddie began volunteering with the dogs and cats at our Grays Ferry location. “I hope to make shelter time more comfortable for similar dogs while they’re with us, so that they can go on to complete someone else’s family in the same way,” says Maddie, “I love seeing the dogs get the medical treatment and behavioral training that they might not receive otherwise and helping to keep them company while they heal before they can go to their forever homes.”

Along with volunteering in the shelter, Maddie also trains new volunteers, has helped with administrative work, and in 2020 (before COVID hit) she planned a Valentine’s day event that raised $3,500 for PAWS!

We are so lucky to have Maddie as a volunteer and hope that she continues with us for many years to come!

Jamie Coyle

Jamie started volunteering at our Old City location in March 2017 and you can find her there on Saturday mornings! “I wanted to start steadily volunteering somewhere and feel a part of a community” she said. “I’m an animal lover, and I decided to volunteer with PAWS after adopting my cat Iris (she sadly passed away of kidney disease about a year ago).”

Along with her regular cat care responsibilities, and being a PAWS adopter, Jamie is also part of our Rockstar program, which includes volunteers who have been with PAWS for a long time and are able to help with tasks above and beyond the normal duties. “I was trained in giving medications, and learned a lot about cat’s health and some signs to look for. I think this helps me with my own cats, and especially with a cat who had kidney disease.”

When volunteers have been at PAWS for as long as Jamie has, it is always fun to learn about what moments stood out to them or what brings them enjoyment from volunteering! Jamie said, “Not sure if I have a favorite moment, but I really enjoy my recurring weekend shift and seeing the same staff and volunteers: catching up, talking, laughing. It’s the start of my weekend! I also really enjoy seeing the cats that are no longer there because of adoption week to week. When first volunteering you want to take everyone home, now I’m happy to see they are no longer there and found a home from the week prior.”

We are so lucky to have Jamie as a volunteer. Our Saturday mornings would not be the same without her and we hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Melissa Amoroso

Melissa began as a volunteer for PAWS in 2017. She started by helping out with events, but gradually transitioned to one of our cat care volunteers at Petsmart. “My favorite moment was definitely the day I adopted Peachy! I volunteered for puppy yoga in 2017 and she was one of the adoptable pups there. It was truly love at first sight! I filled out an app right away and knew she’d be the perfect sidekick. A few days later I took her home and we’ve been inseparable ever since. She’s even a therapy dog and helps people smile and relax!”

Melissa still volunteers at our Petsmart location on Washington Ave. She helps care for the animals while they wait for their forever homes, as well as, chats with potential adopters, posts the cats to our Petsmart Instagram and facilitates adoptions when someone finds their perfect match. “I love snapping pics of Petsmart cats to get them more exposure. We get a lot of adopters coming in because they saw a cat on Instagram, so it’s great to have that as an option. I love getting to facilitate adoptions. Seeing a pet going to their forever home is so heartwarming!”

We are so grateful for all that Melissa does for PAWS and hopes she stays with us for many more years to come!

Bill Branan

Bill started as a volunteer in 2017 at our Old City location helping out with the cats in the shelter and shortly after started helping out with the dogs, too! “I decided I wanted to really make a difference somewhere. I’ve always had cats so cat care seemed to be a good fit. During one of my first shifts, a recently adopted cat was returned, so I spent most of the rest of the evening with him. I wanted to let him know he was safe, and that things would get better.”

After volunteering for a little while, Bill also started to help train new volunteers who are just getting started at PAWS, as well as, helping with adoption applications and working with adopters in the shelter through our Rockstar Volunteer program. “Whenever I see a fellow volunteer I mentored back for a shift – it makes me feel like I’m paying it forward. PAWS has truly changed my life – I’m a better person, and see the world as a nicer place from my time there.”

Bill also helps out at events, especially our Mutt Strut, and as if that wasn’t enough, he is also a PAWS adopter! “We lost both of our senior cats early during COVID- which was truly devastating. Once we were ready, we went to the PAWS foster program and adopted Fred and George (pictured) – they’re such sweet cats and speak volumes for the foster program.”

We are so lucky to have Bill as a part of our PAWS community and we hope he stays with us for many years to come!

Sharon Ferraro

Sharon started volunteering with PAWS in 2016 after taking her dog to the Mutt Strut! “I loved the vibe, and all of the volunteers were having a great time. I decided I wanted to do it, too.”

Since she was working in Old City, Sharon started volunteering at our Old City location walking dogs during her lunch breaks and helping to care for the cats after work. In her first year of volunteering she gave almost 120 hours of service! When our Old City location closed due to COVID, Sharon wanted to continue helping, so she switched to fostering! ” In 2020, we decided to try fostering and quickly failed. We sadly lost our girl, Gloria, about two months ago but she taught us a lot in our short time with her.”

Now, Sharon is a volunteer with the dogs at Grays Ferry and has a regular shift with us on Mondays and fills in additional open shifts when she can! “The highlights for me are seeing the dogs relax outside of the kennel and, of course, seeing them get adopted.”

We are so lucky to have Sharon as a volunteer and hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Laura Snite

Laura was part of our very first cohort when we opened orientations after pausing due to COVID. She began volunteering at both PAWS locations in September 2021, starting with animal care in the shelter. “I started volunteering at PAWS to get more involved with helping Philly be a no kill city,” shares Laura, “but also because I love time spent with animals.”

In addition to helping out with animal care at the shelter, Laura also assists with administrative tasks, mentoring new volunteers, and helping out at adoption events! She has truly jumped in headfirst with volunteering from day one, and it’s hard to remember a time before she was with us!

When asked about some of her favorite moments, she said, “my favorite moments at PAWS have been play time with the dogs and cats. Seeing moments of joy and smiling just touches the heart.”

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

Nicole Dianno

Nicole began as a volunteer at our Northeast location in 2017, but a move in 2018 brought her closer to our Grays Ferry location where you can find her once a week in the cat room! “What I enjoy most about volunteering is just spending time with the animals, who may be super scared in the shelter, or who aren’t feeling very well due to injury or sickness, or who are just incredibly bored, and being able to give them love and attention and playtime while they wait for their forever homes. My favorite is spending time with the really scared cats who can go from hiding/hissing to accepting pets and purring with some calm talking and slow blinks. It feels good to know you’re helping them to be at least a tiny fraction more comfortable.”

Besides helping in the shelter, and sometimes working with new volunteers, Nicole also helps out at events. “One of my all time favorite volunteer moments was at my very first mutt strut when I was a dog handler for a pup named Emery (in the photo!). Emery was on the older side and in desperate need of a glow up. A very nice older couple seemed interested in him, but I could tell they were unsure about his age. I later saw them standing nearby and casually took Emery on a little walk/jog that just happened to be in their line of sight so they could see his fantastic leash skills and that he still had lots of energy and was happy to jog around with me. Well it worked and they ended up adopting him!”

If you can believe it, Nicole is also a foster parent! Foster parents make such a huge difference in the lives of the animals at the shelter and when she was reflecting about volunteering, she said, ” The very first thing I thought of when I thought about what my favorite thing about volunteering is was that it brought fostering into my life.” She also mentioned that exposure to the cats at the shelter helped cure her very mild cat allergies! It was a win-win for everyone!

We are so lucky to have Nicole as a part of our PAWS community. Her enthusiasm to help the cats that need her the most, and sometimes even bring them home to foster, has us hoping she stays a volunteer for many more years to come!

Megan Piorko

Megan has been a volunteer at PAWS for about a year, but it’s hard to remember a time before her! She shared a very sweet memory about the impact that adopting had on her life: “When I was a kid Santa got me a voucher to adopt a cat from the local shelter. I went in and found my childhood best friend, a black cat named Nickey. I love black cats and adopted my second one (Lana) in 2016. She moved with me from Atlanta and her best friend is my 10 year old rescue mutt, Jaime.”

Not only does she help out in the shelter, but Megan also helps with transport between locations, volunteering for events, and even with cat care and adoptions at our PetSmart location. “I began volunteering with animals when I lived in Atlanta in 2015 and never looked back! I especially have a soft spot for community cats and winning over “spicy” kitties. I’m really enjoying being involved with PAWS and feeling like I’m doing something tangible to help the animals and the community.”

We are so lucky to have Megan as a volunteer at PAWS. She is ready to jump in and help wherever she can and we hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Jessica Gardner

Jessica started volunteering at our Old City location in March 2017, and now has a weekly shift helping to care for our cats! When asked why she started volunteering she said, “I love dogs and cats (and all animals) and dream of Philly becoming a no-kill city. Some of my most joyful moments are spent with kitties at the PAWS Adoption Center.”

Besides being a staple at our Old City location, Jessica also helps out at our off-site adoption and fundraising events. Her passion for the PAWS mission and enthusiasm makes her a great event volunteer! “I really enjoy attending community events where the good work of PAWS is spotlighted,” says Jessica, “Mutt Strut is my favorite when all the pooches parade in their Halloween finery, and Bark at the Park is also great when the dogs show their Phillies pride.”

Along with her work directly with the animals, Jessica also wrote and secured a grant awarding $2,000 towards PAWS’ lifesaving work! We are so grateful that she thought of PAWS when she saw this opportunity through the Cleveland Browns organization.

Jessica has been such a wonderful volunteer at PAWS and we are so lucky to have her. We hope that she stays with us for many more years to come!

Sera Bayruns

Sera started volunteering with PAWS as a member of Monster Milers program, which helps dogs battle kennel stress by taking them out for a run. “It was great to be able to help the energetic dogs be less stressed in their kennels. I love meeting the new dogs when they are first brought in, figuring out their favorite toy and their personality. I also spend a lot of time working with the same dog multiple times, training them in commands and developing their socialization and behavioral skills.”

For a lot of 2020, dogs were not staying in the shelter very long, but Sera would come in for shifts here and there to help when needed. However, beginning in mid-2021, she started to take a regular weekly shift and even helped out at two events this year – just adding to the list of things she does for PAWS! Knowing that we can count on a volunteer every week to give the dogs extra love is a huge help! “While I love it when a dog is excited to see me again, I secretly hope they aren’t there next time because that means they’ve gone to a loving home! Volunteering at PAWS gives me a better purpose and something to look forward to each week. I am grateful for everything they do – especially everything they’ve done for our second rescue dog Lulu that we adopted one year ago from PAWS. We love our elderly couch potato!”

We are so lucky to have Sera as a volunteer and hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Marilia Pinzone

Marilia started volunteering with PAWS in 2018 as a cat care volunteer at our Old City location. Before COVID-19, she was a regular there on Saturday mornings. “The first shift in the morning was always my favorite one as it allowed me to spend some quality time with the cats before the shelter opened. I truly enjoyed every aspect of it, including less “glamorous” activities such as cleaning messy cages before the grand opening for the day”.

As time went on, Marilia took other roles and joined the team of volunteers processing foster applications and posting cats’ bios online. She has volunteered countless hours remotely to help run these operations smoothly. “It has been very rewarding to be part of a team that has a common goal, i.e. finding foster and adoption homes for every cat and dog at the shelter. Even if I have only met most of the other volunteers remotely, I feel that we all support each other and jump in whenever additional help is needed, because we all strive to achieve the ultimate goal of getting every pet to a loving home”.

Marilia recently left Philly to start a new chapter in her professional life and while she misses her time at PAWS, she continues to help remotely as much as she can. “Volunteering at PAWS has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It has helped me feel less lonely when I was homesick and coping with anxiety when I was stressed out. I have also adopted my two cats, Brie and Baguette, from PAWS and they are one of the highlights of my life. I cannot imagine my life without them and without volunteering at PAWS”.

We are so grateful to have Marilia as a volunteer at PAWS and hope she continues to volunteer with us for many years to come!

Brett Clement

Brett started volunteering at PAWS in 2013 helping with both dog and cat care at our Old City location, but has been part of our morning cat care team for many years now. “I enjoy the interaction with the amazing staff and awesome volunteers. It’s satisfying to come in and hear about how all the fantastic cats from the week before have found their forever homes. Working with shy kitties and helping them socialize is rewarding.”

We were so thrilled when Brett was ready to come back when we opened after our COVID hiatus. We know that when he is on a shift – he is ready for anything and for our morning shifts, anything can happen! When we asked him about his favorite memory, he reminisced about Landon and Shadow! “Landon was a blind kitty. He and Shadow had adjoining suites on the wall, and became paw swiping pals. They were put in a room together, became inseparable companions and then they were adopted out to the same home.”

We are so lucky to have Brett as a volunteer and hope he continues at PAWS for many years to come!

Cassie Drumm

Cassie began volunteering at the PAWS Adoption Center about 4 years ago. Besides helping with cat care at the shelter, she has also fostered animals, which plays a huge role in lifesaving. “I’ve also learned so much being a volunteer and fostering for PAWS—about taking care of cats and dogs, socializing shy animals, introducing new animals into homes, and troubleshooting common behavioral issues.”

Cassie is also part of a team of volunteers that support our adoption staff with applications and adoptions. Volunteers in these roles are an integral part of PAWS and work alongside staff to help adopters make the right match for them. “One of my favorite memories at PAWS was telling the staff about a woman in a Facebook group whose cat had just suddenly died. I was talking about how sad it was, and lo and behold that person walked into PAWS. There was a cat here at the time named Vida, who was overweight and had been at the shelter for a little while. The person met Vida and instantly fell in love with her. It was an emotional adoption process, as she told me the story of losing her previous cat, but it was so rewarding to see Vida bond with someone and go home that day, and I was able to take part in that process as a volunteer. And the best part is I’ve gotten to see updates on Vida almost weekly ever since, in the same facebook group that I originally saw her story in.”

Cassie also helps out at our off-site events like Bark at the Park (pictured with her foster!) and the Mutt Strut. Adoption events are a great way to show off foster dogs and with Cassie’s enthusiasm for volunteering and fostering, it is no wonder that she is able to find homes quickly for her fosters!

We are so grateful to have Cassie as a volunteer and hope she continues to stay with PAWS for many years to come!

Cyndi DiFabritiis

Cyndi started volunteering in 2008 when PAWS before it became the organization that everyone knows today. She would work at our adoption events at Petsmart and in the shelter with bottle feeder kittens.”We would walk dogs around in their adopt me vests. Sometimes they would get adopted and not have to go back, but if not it was still nice knowing the dogs were outside for the day and being seen by potential adopters. I also went to the shelter and took care of bottle feeders coming in, which is how I got my failed foster, Luna. She was only 3 weeks old and couldn’t stay at the shelter overnight so I took her home and she never left.”

Cyndi has volunteered in almost every building that houses PAWS’ animals – in the Petsmart cat room, our Old City adoption center and now at our Grays Ferry location! You can find her most days in our cat housing room making sure the animals have what they need and treating them like they are her own. “I was very happy when Grays Ferry opened and I could go there more often as it is closer to my home. I started out volunteering with the dogs before I moved on to the cats because I was afraid I’d want to take too many home. I enjoy volunteering there and meeting so many caring animal lovers that work and volunteer there. I also love hearing about cats that have been there a while getting adopted or going into foster care. Philadelphia has come such a long way from the time before PAWS was here.”

Cyndi is always ready to take an extra shift, help wherever we need her and do it all with a smile and a positive attitude. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer and hope she stays for many years to come!

Karla Fettich

Karla started as a volunteer at our Grays Ferry location in July of 2016 working with the dogs on Saturday mornings in the shelter. “It makes me happy to be able to give these dogs a clean place to exist, play with them and see their goofy side come out, and give them all the neck scratches and belly rubs I can while they wait for their forever home.”

Karla also mentors new volunteers for their first shift at the shelter. It can be intimidating to get started (we have all had a first day somewhere!) and she helps new dog volunteers feel more comfortable for their first shift. “I like mentoring because I get to meet new people from all walks of life, and cleaning kennels is more fun with friends. I see so many dogs come and go, but I have a soft spot for silly, wiggly block-headed dogs. Helga was one of those – she was goofy and sweet but terrified of other dogs, and this dog-reactivity could be quite intimidating. I spent a lot of time with her, since it took her a few weeks to get adopted. I was recently wondering how she was doing, and in an odd coincidence, one of my mentees one day mentioned that her family had adopted Helga. It was so wonderful to hear that she ended up with a great family who was willing to work with her!”

Along with her in-house volunteering, Karla has a volunteering project outside of the shelter, as well! She has been leading a team of volunteers, with data science and engineering expertise, on the PAWS Data Pipeline (via Code for Philly) to help integrate data and make accessing information easier for staff. “I enjoy seeing an idea turn into a real product that will hopefully help PAWS grow and become even more impactful in the community.”

We are so lucky to have Karla as a PAWS volunteer and hope that she continues to volunteer for many years to come!

Karen Brooks

Karen started volunteering in summer 2012 as a dog volunteer through the Monster Milers running program! “I got involved for several reasons, including my belief in the power of an individual to make a difference. I knew that even if I was only able to get to the shelter for an hour a week, that hour of exercise and attention would make a very real difference for a dog during a stressful time in its life. And, also for self-care/mental health — spending time with dogs is a very effective form of therapy!”

Volunteers like Karen make it possible for the dogs to get out of their kennel for some play time. Although she started as part of a running program, she is happy to take out pups that aren’t runners, as well, to give them a much needed break outside. “A particularly special moment was the first time I took a dog for a run after having a baby. I went on a volunteering hiatus and stayed home full-time with my son after until he started daycare a year later. It was like a weight had been lifted. Spending time at PAWS had become part of my identity, and when I stepped back from it, I felt like I lost part of myself. Motherhood is all-consuming, and as much as I loved my baby, I missed being able to nurture my own interests and needs. I don’t think I stopped smiling for a second during that first run back (with an adorable dog named Gizmo).”

Along with volunteering, Karen (and her family!) began fostering cats and started with a mama cat and one kitten. “The kitten went to a great home, but we failed with the mama, who we renamed Sandwich because she jumps in the refrigerator searching for deli turkey any chance she gets. She makes me SO happy — BEST “FAILURE” EVER.”

Karen is always ready to get a little muddy with the dogs, treats them like they are her own and brings joyful energy to every shift. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer at PAWS!

Joan Magee

Joan started volunteering at our Grays Ferry location in January of 2017 as a dog volunteer. You can find Joan every Tuesday getting the pups out first thing in the morning! “I love coming in for the first shift of the day, because the dogs are very excited to go outside in the yard, and eat breakfast after being in their kennels all night. The mornings are busy with cleaning the individual kennels, washing the food and water bowls, and doing laundry. When all the chores are done, I can spend some quality time outside with the dogs, as well as do a little training with them.”

Joan also helps train and mentor new volunteers. The first shift for many people can feel intimidating and she helps get them comfortable, show them the ropes and be there to field questions! It is such a huge help to new volunteers and several of our current volunteers became regulars after their shifts with her!

As well as being a dog volunteer, Joan is also a foster parent for PAWS pups! “I also get to have a sneak peek at which dogs need a foster home. I’m currently fostering my 12th PAWS dog- a pitty puppy named Piper. I fall in love with every dog I foster, so it’s hard to say goodbye, but knowing that I helped them on their journey to finding their forever homes, is incredibly rewarding!”

We are so grateful to have Joan as a volunteer and love that we can rely on her each week to be there with a smile ready to work. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer and hope she continues with us for many years to come!

Kelly Johnson

Kelly started volunteering with the cats at our Grays Ferry location in October 2013 and is also an adopter! She has been a volunteer on Sunday mornings for many years and our Sundays would not be the same without her. “My work is also how I met my 2 cats who I adore and provide constant entertainment!”

Along with working with the cats, Kelly also mentors new volunteers to help them feel welcomed and comfortable for their first shift(s) with PAWS! It is such an important volunteer role since getting started can be intimidating for new volunteers. “One of the best parts is all of the awesome people I’ve met, and I love helping with the mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city.” Kelly makes it such a pleasant experience for new volunteers!

Kelly is such a great volunteer and we are so lucky to have her! We hope she continues with PAWS for many years to come!

Sergio Freire

Sergio started with PAWS in October 2012 and, since that time, has volunteered in many different capacities! He first began as a cat care volunteer at our Old City location, but since has volunteered at adoption and fundraising events, at our Grays Ferry location and has even adopted 2 cats from PAWS. Although he is still volunteering, the pandemic has been a reminder of what he misses. “I miss PAWS gatherings, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones. Also, the events, even the ones raising $1.”

Throughout any volunteer’s time with PAWS, especially when volunteering in multiple spaces, there are moments that stand out, which make volunteering a little more fun. “My favorite moments were the adoption of Precious Walker and, after her passing, of Rosé. And, another memorable moment was a kid who donated all coins in his piggy bank, on a Saturday morning.”

Sergio is always ready to help wherever we need it most and even during the pandemic has offered to mentor volunteers who are taking on roles at our Grays Ferry location. His passion for volunteering really shows and makes him a great mentor for new volunteers. We are so lucky to have Sergio as a volunteer and can’t wait until we can have him back at events (for many years to come)!

Heather Steiner

Heather started as a volunteer in February 2020 right before the world was about to be flipped upside down and she didn’t skip a beat! Ever since the day of her orientation (she even volunteered right after!), Heather has been a steady volunteer with the dogs at PAWS and said, “It is such a pleasure to be a dog care volunteer at PAWS. When a dog sees their human, their brain secretes the same substances as ours do when we are in love. To play a part in a PAWS pup finding their person fills me with joy.”

Along with volunteering with the dogs, Heather has also helped with transport, especially in the transport of food for pet pantry recipients. She has played a part in transporting hundreds of pounds of food to make sure that our community is getting what they need and mentioned that this work reminds her to count her blessings.

Heather has only been with PAWS for a little over a year, but her impact has been incredible. She is always a constant on Mondays making sure the dogs get what they need to start the day. Heather shared, “I love having a Monday morning shift because it sets a tone of gratitude for the rest of my week. I keep a photo of every pup I have worked with at PAWS!”.

We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer at PAWS. Her positive attitude and willingness to do whatever is needed, helps staff (and pups) make Mondays much better!

Hannah Ingebretson

Hannah began volunteering at PAWS in 2017 and quickly became an integral part of our team. In a little over three years with PAWS, she has already volunteered over 200 hours! “My favorite part of spending time with the animals is showing them unconditional love and care.”

Hannah has worked in just about every area we have to offer. She started as a cat care volunteer, but has done events, fostered animals (including bottle babies) and now volunteers weekly with the dogs at our Grays Ferry location. “I love PAWS because of all of the ways that I can help whether I am in the shelter, at home, or out in my community.”

We are so grateful to have volunteers like Hannah who are open to jumping into any role where they’re needed! We hope to have Hannah as a volunteer for many more years to come.

Laura Mansnerus

Laura has been a volunteer at PAWS since 2008! She currently volunteers with the cats at our Grays Ferry location, but has also volunteered as a cat care volunteer at our Old City location, helped with adoptions at our off-site PetSmart location and fostered. She even adopted three of the cats that she fostered through PAWS!

Laura is really wonderful with the nervous cats at the shelter and even sweetly described our cat housing room as a “cat heaven for cat ladies”. Most of the time when they come in they just need someone who will be patient and help them come out of their shell and Laura does just that! “My favorite thing is face time with the shy, the scared and the stressed, usually just sitting and talking, because it’s so rewarding when you hear a purr or maybe, every now and then, are allowed to administer a belly rub.”

We are so lucky to have volunteers like Laura who are dedicated to the animals that need us the most. And, we hope that Laura volunteers with us for many more years to come!

Gabriela Zoller

Gabriela started volunteering at our Grays Ferry location in the summer of 2015 and has been a regular cat care volunteer ever since! She volunteers for a morning shift, which is usually the busiest and messiest! “I love volunteering because I love watching these animals get a second chance. Every cat’s story is a reminder of how compassion and time can transform someone’s life. I also love volunteering because my fellow volunteers and the PAWS staff are the most generous, hardworking and funny people I know. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re sending pictures of your foster cat’s poop to the vet for her insight.”

Gabriela is also a foster parent for PAWS and tends to take tough medical cases. PAWS is able to pull the animals that need medical help because of fosters like her! “My favorite fosters are tough medical cases and I have been continually amazed at how PAWS goes above and beyond for the most difficult cases. Lucky for me, quite a few of those fosters have been adopted by friends and colleagues, which means I get to see them flourish in their new lives.”

We are so lucky to have Gabriela as a volunteer and foster parent for PAWS. We hope that she stays with us for many years to come!

Scott Shubert

Scott started volunteering in March and was actually part of the last orientation we held at PAWS before COVID hit. He volunteers weekly on Thursdays and Fridays in our cat room during our morning shift, which is often the busiest! “It’s sort of fun coming in and seeing (and hearing) all of the cats shouting out that they’re hungry and trying to get to know them. After feeding and cleaning up their cages on Thursday, usually I feel that I’ve gotten to know each cat just a little and I can use the rest of my shift to give them a little bit of what they’re asking for – in a strange way, for those hours, they become my cats. Normally by the time I leave things are quieter and the cats are mostly enjoying an early nap!”

Besides cleaning in the morning, giving the cats attention and love is also a huge part of Scott’s morning routine (and a very important one!). “Although we know it’s temporary, all the cats know is that just a few days or a few weeks earlier they had freedom, so if I can engage with the individual cats then I feel I’ve helped them just a tiny bit. For some it’s giving some attention; talking to them and trying to make them a little less fearful and for other cats, they’re asking for a reminder that there is still ‘fun’. Over the months I have volunteered, I still remember quite a few of the cats that I have cared for. The idea that these cats now have left their cages behind and have real homes and people who care for them is just a nice and warm thought.”

Scott’s ability to treat all of the animals as if they were his own, his willingness to go above and beyond (in his photo he is dressed in special gear to work with sick animals!) and compassion for the animals are just a few reasons PAWS is so lucky to have him as a volunteer!

Libby Peter

Libby started volunteering in December at our Grays Ferry location after seeing posts from fellow volunteer, Kate Crowley. “I wanted to get involved because I have a truck, which is a handy thing to have and because at the time I had a very reactive dog that really negated any fostering I could do at home. I miss restaurant work but in many ways my life (when I’m doing volunteer and non-profit work) more closely resembles the kind of life I dream of having.”

When COVID hit, Libby was laid off from the restaurant that she manages, and at the same time, volunteer needs at PAWS changed. Libby has become one of the key volunteers on our transport team – taking foster animals to/from appointments for foster parents who are not able to drive themselves! “Meeting all of the fosters is cool. I get to enjoy the kind of new friendships I used to enjoy bartending & getting to know people over the course of several visits. But, most importantly, fostering saves lives and SO MANY CATS are going into foster (or have gone into foster since March.) It’s awesome to see something working the way it should & some good coming out of this.”

Libby’s willingness to jump in wherever needed, flexibility with scheduling and transport needs and compassion for the animals are just a few reasons why PAWS is so lucky to have her as a volunteer. Her time as a volunteer has been short, but her impact has been significant!

Jenn Mikos

Jenn began volunteering in 2016 at our Northeast Adoption Center and Wellness Clinic. She has worked in every volunteer area at PAWS and has volunteered almost 1,000 hours!

“After adopting my first dog as an adult, I became more acutely aware of the animal welfare issues in the country and wanted to get more involved. I decided I wanted to eventually make a career change and started volunteering as a way to gain some experience.”

Jenn began caring for the dogs and cats at PAWS in our adoption center, worked with kittens and sick cats, and even volunteered at a few events. However, she found her “home” in the feline isolation ward at our shelter/clinic where she spends time with sick cats and helps them remain happy and comfortable until they improve enough to be adopted. She even adopted two former isolation ward cats herself!

“I really enjoy it because I feel like you get a lot more one-on-one time with the cats in there and really get to know their personalities, since many of them can be in there for a couple weeks. Because of this, I also started helping write bios for the cats to promote them online.”

We are so lucky to have Jenn as a volunteer and hope that she stays with us for many more years to come!

Katrin Ferge

Katrin started as a volunteer about 3 years ago doing cat care at our Old City location. “I started because I adopted my cat, Spike, from PAWS. I loved how welcoming everyone was and how well cared for the animals were. The staff is absolutely amazing in supporting me and I have made so many new friends.”

After a few weeks of volunteering, and a growing love for shy cats, Katrin met her first foster! “Erica (PAWS Staff member) asked me if I wanted to take on socializing cats and that was my first foster – the shyest, hissiest of them all. I love working with animals, and trying to understand them.”

Along with doing animal care at PAWS and fostering, Katrin has worked events, mentored volunteers, and leads our Bottlefeeder Relay Program. Her favorites to foster are bottlefeeders and sick kittens. “It gives me so much to save the most vulnerable. Nothing is more beautiful to see these fragile little things grow into grown cats! Or, nursing a critically sick cat back to health and being able to give it another chance.”

We are so lucky to have volunteers like Katrin, and I hope she stays with us for many more years to come!

Megan Pucillo

Megan started as a volunteer at our Grays Ferry location in 2014 and works in our cat room. She has a regular shift with the cats on the weekends and has been popping in during the week recently as well! “I typically take the morning shift and when you walk in, all the cats are yelling for attention but after we finish, all the cats have settled down on their clean blankets with full bellies – that’s the best part.”

Along with being an awesome volunteer, Megan is also a foster parent! She has fostered sick cats, elderly cats, lots of kittens and a few cats that just needed some extra TLC and socialization. She also shared some exciting foster news recently: “I hit a milestone last summer with my 50th foster cat! Most of those were for PAWS, but I also grabbed a time stamped cat for City of Elderly Love here and there. It means so much to be able to be a short stop on their journey to a happy life.”

We are so grateful to have volunteers like Megan at PAWS and we hope she stays with us for many years to come!

Amanda Minutola

Amanda began as a cat care volunteer in 2012 at an off-site PetSmart location and is now a weekly volunteer at our Wellness Clinic on Grays Ferry Ave. When I asked what she loved about volunteering, she said, “I love seeing their transformations from fresh off the street (and often injured) to fully healthy, going to an adoption center or one of the PetSmart locations, or to their forever homes!”

Amanda is currently part of our cat socialization team, which helps the cats at PAWS feel comfortable and less stressed. “I love getting to help the cats feel safe and secure in the new shelter environment. New scaredy cats are my favorite to work with – lots of slow blinks, cautious petting, and treats!”

Amanda has also been able to put her organizational skills to great use at our Old City location. She is part of a team of volunteers that help to sort supplies, which is a big job that happens several times through the year. It is a tremendous help to the staff and we are so grateful!

Along with her time in the shelter, one event that has become a regular shift for Amanda is our Mutt Strut! Over the past few years she has worked along the course, but this year she had a new role in our registration tent. “I love the Mutt Strut not only because it’s such a wonderful and fun event, but also because I get to live vicariously through others and meet and interact with former and current PAWS dogs.”

We are so grateful for volunteers like Amanda and hope she continues to volunteer for many more years!

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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