Animal Hero of the Month: Randall Starewicz

Instead of tee time or tea parties, one retiree decided to go to the dogs. Meet Randall Starewicz, our Animal Hero of the Month for October.

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The October 2014 winner of our Animal Hero of the Month award is Randall Starewicz of the Calumet Area Humane Society in Munster, Indiana.

Starewicz is a retired math teacher from Lake Central High School. He taught for more than 40 years, and his wife Elizabeth is also a retired teacher. She was volunteering at the Calumet Area Humane Society, and they needed volunteers to walk the dogs. She suggested him for the position, which he gladly accepted.

A few years later, Starewicz is still spending 25 hours per week or more at the shelter walking the dogs, and they inspired him to write a children’s book trilogy. The books, written in rhyme and sold as a set, tell the story of shelter dogs Max and Miles, named after his own dogs.

All profits are donated to animal shelters, and Starewicz spends his time holding book readings and attending fundraisers for the shelter.

At a time when most people look forward to retirement because they can sleep in, play golf or travel, Starewicz has instead chosen to spend his time and efforts for animals in need.

The Nomination

Starewicz’s nomination was sent in by Sarah S.:

“Please consider featuring Randall Starewicz, a retired teacher turned children’s book author and volunteer daily dog-walker, for your Animal Hero of the Month. His new children’s book, Shelter Us: The Tails of Max and Miles has raised over $1,000 for the Calumet Area Humane Society in Indiana since debuting this spring. His book is also newly available at public libraries, elementary school libraries and dentist and doctor’s offices. One hundred percent of the book’s profits are donated to the Humane Society.

Randall is a Munster resident and spends much of his free time walking dogs at the shelter. The Calumet Area Humane Society is competing in the ASPCA & Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, and Randall will help reach that goal by doing book readings for them at pet adoption events this summer around Northwest Indiana.”

Prizes

Here’s what all of our award winners get:

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on our Wall of Heroes
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon shipped to the winner
  • $50 donation (or cash award) from Petful

About Starewicz’s Organization

In 1941, there were concerns about the conditions at the Munster, Indiana city pound.

Evelyn Sweitzer arranged a meeting to discuss these concerns, and the pound was closed. She then founded the Humane Society Calumet Area, which opened in a 3-car garage, and the organization has moved and expanded in the decades that followed.

The Humane Society is a no-kill facility, meaning that they do not euthanize animals to open up space for incoming animals. They have to turn animals away sometimes, but they do their best to help as many as they can. An animal behaviorist tests the temperament of animals and designs the best training program possible to ensure success.

This year, the Humane Society is participating in the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. Starewicz is helping with their efforts by keeping the dogs exercised, holding book readings and attending adoption events.

Q&A With Randall Starewicz

1. What got you started helping animals?

My wife was volunteering at the front desk of the shelter and she told me they needed “walkers,” and I had recently retired. I thought, “Why not try?” That was more than 3 years ago and a multitude of hours spent there.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

My family was visiting relatives, who said they were given a puppy they didn’t want as they lived in an apartment. My dad, of course, said no to that, but a couple hours later we walked out with Missy, whom we kept for what seemed like an eternity.

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

I was about 10 years old.

4. What is your favorite animal?

Dogs are my favorite animal. They are quite human-like to me.

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

In married life our second dog was Ashley, the sweetest and most loyal dog anyone could wish for. She was fun every day — and unfortunately died from cancer at 12.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

As an adult we have had no pets, 1 pet and 2 pets (we currently have 2 Schnauzers from the same parents but not litters).

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

Max and Miles would say that they have had a great life with our family these past 10-13 years and have been well cared for with a lot of fun thrown in to boot.

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

If I could find a home for every homeless animal in the shelters of the world…not too lofty a wish, right?

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

Regarding animals, the only kind I really know are dogs, so I would love to come back as a dog who is part of a big family. The camaraderie would be great!

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

This is the toughest question here! I would have to say our wonderful Ashley, who died in 2003. However, every pet I have had since childhood is worthy of that.

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