Cinespace goes to the dogs for a day

CineCares Foundation Executive Director Sheila Brown makes a friend at Cinespace (photo by Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS)

CineCares Foundation Executive Director Sheila Brown makes a friend at Cinespace (photo by Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS)

Chicago Film Studio
partners with
PAWS Chicago
to spread awareness
and showcase
“amazing pets”
available for adoption


Production at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios was temporarily disrupted yesterday when a half-dozen dogs appeared in a patch of grass at Rockwell and 16th.

Frolicking, rolling around, and generally being adorable without really trying, the pooches were the highlight of an event hosted by PAWS Chicago, the largest no-kill humane organization in the Midwest. All of them were up for adoption.

“Everyone’s getting along famously,” exclaimed PAWS spokesperson Sarah McDonald. “We were so lucky to be able to partner with Cinespace on such an awesome opportunity.”

Torrey DeVitto (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS Chicago)
Torrey DeVitto (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS Chicago)

McDonald is the Associate Director of Media and Community Relations at PAWS, which operates a main adoption facility at 1997 N. Clybourn. She said that the purpose of yesterday’s event was “not only find these guys homes, but truly spread awareness and showcase the amazing dogs that are available for adoption in your local shelter.”

The six dogs who made the trip — like all of those represented by the organization — had received a thorough screening from the PAWS medical center in Little Village before being unleashed.

“That’s where all of our dogs come first,” McDonald explains. “As a no-kill shelter, we treat them medically and give them whatever they need to make wonderful pets.”

In addition to behavior modification and training, PAWS handles spaying, neutering, and microchipping for its dogs and counseling for their prospective parents. The shelter also makes a lifetime commitment to every one of its adoptees.

“So if for any reason it doesn’t work out,” adds McDonald, “we welcome them right back.”

A necessary option, no doubt; but it seemed that most of the people who came out to play had grown far beyond puppy love and were comfortable making permanent commitments. Chicago Med Producer Carla Corwin — who helped organize the event with Rosie Burke and Karen Banks from Cinespace — was among them.

“I used to do rescue in LA for many, many years and these animals are so wonderful and, when they find a new home, the people are so happy,” she says. “Everybody benefits.”

Cinespace President Alex Pissios and ‘Chicago Med’ Producer Carla Corwin (center left, right) get down with the dogs.

Chicago Med stars upstaged by canines
The four-legged frenzy inspired several staff, cast, and crewmembers to take a break from work and do some outdoor petting. Among them was PAWS supporter and self-described “dog lover” Nick Gehlfuss, who plays Dr. Will Halstead on Chicago Med.

Gehlfuss and his wife moved to Chicago with a pair of dogs that they adopted one Christmas season while living in Los Angeles.

Nick Gehlfuss (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS)
Nick Gehlfuss (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS)

“I couldn’t go home that year and I’ve always wanted a dog and so it just became my present to myself for not being able to go visit my family,” he recalls. “The energy that an animal can bring to a home is one of the most rewarding things.”

He says that Holly and Waldo both weigh about ten pounds and sleep in their own bed, for the most part.

“In the morning, like an hour before we get up, they know they have an hour to come in and chill,” he says.

Gehlfuss came to the event with fellow cast member by Torrey DeVitto, who plays Natalie Manning on the series and also enjoys life with a pair of rescued dogs. Besides gracing the cover of the next issue of PAWS Chicago magazine, DeVitto will also be the face of a new PSA campaign scheduled to launch this fall.

Several other dog-lovers came out to play during the afternoon, and took a moment to talk about their pets with Reel Chicago.

Michelle the Chihuahua and her new best friend (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS Chicago)
Michelle the Chihuahua and her new best friend (photo: Stephen Lotho courtesy of PAWS Chicago)

CineCares Executive Director Sheila Brown said that of course her “little baby,” a nine-pound Poodle named Teddy, gets to sleep in bed every night. Stage 18 Co-founder Angie Gaffney mused that her “ladylike” fifty-pound Golden Doodle, Penny, may soon be joined by a new friend from PAWS. And Periscope Head of Business Development Kamelya Alexan said that her Chihuahua, Sedona, and her Miniature Dachshund, Loki, deserve to be as spoiled as they are.

In an average year, PAWS finds homes for more than 5,600 dogs. When they’re ready to move away from the shelter, the organization gives them a bag of dog food, a certificate for a free wellness check at a VCA hospital, a collar, and a leash. Yesterday afternoon, it established a new situation for at least one of the furry VIP attendees, a gentle Chihuahua named Michelle.

To learn more about PAWS, click on this.

Send your four-legged updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,