ENGLEWOOD — PAWS Chicago is accepting applications through Friday for their apprenticeship program, part of a larger effort to promote animal welfare in Chicago’s underserved communities.
Apprentices work alongside technicians and gain skills for working in animal welfare. The part-time opportunity is open to anyone age 18 or older who lives in the South Side. Preference will be given to Englewood, West Englewood and Back of the Yards residents. No prior experience is necessary.
The apprenticeship builds upon the PAWS for Life program, which started in 2014 as a door-to-door outreach offering free spay and neuter services for pet owners in Englewood, according to Laurie Maxwell, director of community outreach.
Maxwell said there are a large number of pets in the Englewood area and not enough resources to care for them. If there are too many stray animals, this can lead to overcrowded shelters and eventually pets needing to be euthanized, Maxwell said.
“Englewood is an area where there are no veterinarians, there are no pet supplies stores, there’s no groomers. So it is a pet-resource desert,” Maxwell said.
PAWS for Life program established a brick and mortar outpost last year in Englewood. The apprenticeship helps to support that work, Maxwell said.
“A vet needs technicians and assistants, and instead of pulling one of our technicians away from the medical center, what we did is we used this real job need as an opportunity to engage the community in a different way,” said Maxwell.
Fewer than one percent of veterinarians and only seven percent of veterinary technicians in the US are Black, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 2.3 percent of veterinarians 9.4 percent of technicians are Latino.
Thus the PAWS program also can provide a career path into a field many people of color might not consider, said Dr. Rachael Wooten, a veterinarian who helps train apprentices.
“We’re building up this relationship so that we’re building our communities together,” Wooten said.
Cynthia Ortiz, the most recent apprentice, says the environment is incredible for learning and very supportive.
“The interactions between the interns and the doctors is very 1-on-1,” Ortiz said. “They respect you for who you are and they are just so friendly and open-minded.”
The start date would be early September.