Jillian Hogan, regional specialist
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, West Virginia
I might not have known it all along, but I never stood a chance in being fulfilled in any other line of work but animal welfare. My grandfather visited the Sanctuary over 25 years ago, and is just one shining example of how deeply rooted the wellbeing of animals is weaved into my existence and upbringing.
After graduating with a degree in English and dual minors in Sociology and Psychology, I found myself working more traditional, office-based roles, like copyediting. Although successful, I continued to find myself unfulfilled and yearning for more. I volunteered in rescue on a regular basis, and eventually the light turned on and I made the connection that I could spend 8 hours at the shelter – scrubbing kennels, walking dogs, scooping litter – and leave with enough energy to take my own dog for a run or go out with friends. This was a critical realization to make, as I would leave my paying jobs (at a desk, with little to no physical strain) each day completely exhausted and disengaged. Thus, when the opportunity presented itself to take on a role as an Adoption Counselor and Mobile Adoption Coordinator with Humane Society Naples, I jumped on the opportunity.
I could be generous and say it was within a week of this new endeavor that I was hooked for life, but in reality it was within ten minutes. After a few wonderful years with HSN, I accepted a position in Animal Care Management with PAWS Chicago, a powerhouse of a humane society with a sparkling reputation. Here, I learned the finer ins and outs of shelter management, staffing, training, housing, disease prevention and management, and the like. I fell deeply in love with our ever-present population of “behavior dogs,” and found myself fighting for their enrichment, wellbeing and positive outcomes more often than not. This pushed me to apply for the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional Program in an effort to better understand canine behavior and apply my knowledge to increasing positive outcomes for dogs experiencing these types of issues in a shelter environment.
My participation in Chicagoland Rescue Intervention and Support Program (CRISP) was also a critical learning opportunity for me. Here, I was able to dive into the municipal side of sheltering while serving as a boots-on-the-ground life support system for the underserved in our community, decreasing owner surrenders by offering guidance and support, while at the same time building relationships with smaller nonprofits in the area to transfer owner surrenders out before they even needed to step foot in the building.
I’ve wanted to be effective on a greater level for some time, now, and am so proud to be a part of Best Friends’ No Kill 2025 initiative in the Midwest. Having been born and raised in Chicago, I am thrilled to be working towards increasing lifesaving in my region. My blocky-headed sidekick, Edward (a Pitbull-like dog), and his long-term foster sister, Pamela (a spider monkey/Maltese cross), are over the moon that I’m playing a critical role in helping animals just like them get a well-deserved second chance. And I hope my heart dog, Lucky (who’s almost single-handedly responsible for all of this) is looking down on us, feeling the same way.