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Erin Dodd

Erin Dodd

Running and rescue. These pursuits make me feel productive, accomplished, and worthy. They give life meaning. While I didn’t know it at the time, signing up to run the Chicago Marathon for Team PAWS would end up being somewhat of a saving grace.

Over the past year, my life has been turned upside down. Moving to Chicago was exciting, but I left most of my friends and family back in Minnesota. I started my new job as a dermatology resident which was gratifying but also overwhelming. During the fall, my depression started spiraling out of control. I was crying before work, after work, and then eventually, during work. I was trying to power through it, partially oblivious to how sick I had become. I finally took a leave of absence from work because I simply couldn’t function. I started treatment at a partial hospitalization program, but things continued to deteriorate through the holidays. In early January, I survived a suicide attempt and spent the next 11+ weeks transitioning between inpatient, residential treatment, and a partial hospitalization program for depression and anxiety. During this time, my husband decided we should separate. My feisty and beloved grandmother passed away. I lost another significant, long-term relationship.

Over the past 12 years, there have been two constants in my life: my husband and working in pursuit of my career as a dermatologist. With these things gone, I felt like a shell of my former self. Who was I? What did I value in life? What gives it purpose?

So, for now, I’m back to basics. I’m still in intensive therapy and some days are a struggle. But I’m hopeful knowing that I have been able to cultivate meaning in my life through running and rescue. Volunteering at PAWS also brought Fiona—my newest family member and PAWS alum—into my life. As far as I can tell, she’s had a rough go of it and now I have the opportunity to give her the life she deserves. That alone gives me a sense of purpose as I continue my recovery.

PAWS Chicago is dedicated to building No Kill communities – starting with a No Kill Chicago – where all healthy and treatable pets are saved. Since PAWS Chicago’s founding in 1997, the number of homeless animals euthanized per year in Chicago has dropped more than 80 percent. In 2016, PAWS Chicago found loving homes for more than 5,100 homeless pets. But there is more work to be done and your generosity is crucial to this effort.

Please consider supporting me by making a donation and helping PAWS Chicago provide vital medical care, food and shelter to thousands of homeless pets this year. PAWS receives no government funding and relies solely on people like you to help provide continued care for Chicago's homeless animals.

Your support will allow us to build a truly humane and compassionate community, one pet at a time. If you are feeling extra generous, please consider sharing my page with your network or check with your employer if they will match your donation to make the most out of your generosity.

Thank you for your support!



raised of $3,000 goal

Recent Donations

1. Katelyn Aase
Go, Erin, go! Sending love to you and all the pups you're helping.
2. Alex and Yuliya
We're rooting for you!
3. Katy Engler
Proud of you!
4. Katherine Agre
5. Kelsey Maynard
6. Marilynn Mohlenhoff
Dear Erin, so proud of you and your efforts with the humane treatment of animals. You are a wonderful person and more strong than you know. Fondly, Marilynn Mohlenhoff