Gelson’s installs pets aisle—outside the market

Long Beachers lost a favorite watering hole in March 2013, when Hof’s Hut on Pacific Coast Highway closed down, taking with it its patio dining, sunken bar and some of the best comfort food served this side of the birth of rock ’n’ roll. (See “Hof’s Hut at Marina Pacific Closed.”)

It rankled a sizeable number of us that we’d never again sit in the “Hunter S. Thompson room,” as a friend called the green-leatherette-adorned bar, and order a Manhattan and a big, gooey cheese melt and refried beans. A bunch of us, including Long Beach’s former mayor Beverly O’Neill, protested in front of Hof’s holding signs and grudgingly accepting cookies proffered by the management in sympathy.

Cookies weren’t enough. I swore that I wouldn’t patronize any business that opened there. Lucille’s? I don’t eat barbecue, and how come Mr. Hoffman didn’t opt to Googie up the old place and apply for historical-monument status? CVS? There’s one I patronize regularly in Seal Beach. And Gelson’s? Geez, with three other grocery stores within the throw of an organic cabbage, I can get anything I need from an economy-size four-pack of cornflakes to a bottle of kombucha-infused ginger ale with things floating around in it.

Well, that all changed for me nearly a year later. In February 2014, Gelson’s Market brought its Pet Partners program to Long Beach. The program began at a corporate level in April 2011, with a mission of educating pet owners about the importance of adopting or at least fostering cats or dogs. Pets from rescues are showcased in front of the market, samples of goodies are given to visitors, and anyone who donates to any of the rescues receives a reusable bag with Gelson’s coupons.

Adopters and rescues get happy at Gelson’s Pet Partners program. Top, second from left: Sherri Stankewitz, Sparky and the Gang founder; top, right: Jeff Stein, Gelson’s marketing director. Photo courtesy of Gelson’s Market.


The Long Beach Pet Partners program featured dogs from Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue, cats from the Long Beach Spay & Neuter Foundation and a little bit of both—dogs, mostly—from the shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services.

“The outside area’s nice—there are great people, too,” said Sherri Stankewitz, founder of Sparky and the Gang. “Employees have adopted pets, and they tell the customers about them.”

The Long Beach program stopped after a couple of years. Stankewitz attributed it to the heat and conflicting rescue obligations. Furthermore, Stankewitz had fallen seriously ill; as the spirit behind the Long Beach effort, the program fizzled out. She’s now bright eyed and healthy, so when Jeff Stein, Gelson’s marketing director, reached out to resurrect the program, Stankewitz was already tugging at the leash.

Pet Partners will be at Gelson’s Market the second Sunday of each month, beginning Oct. 14. I have already four cats, so I won’t be adopting anyone, but I now patronize the bakery, the hot bar (vegetarian choices!), the freezer compartment (I saw Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs there, and they have McConnell’s Salted Caramel Chip for me) and the coffee bar, and occasionally buy a Cherokee Purple tomato. And if you suffer the inconvenience of a CPAP machine, their distilled water is competitively priced.

Actively promoting adoption when you’re not a pet-related business beats all the free cookies in the world. And it’s better for you.

Here are some lucky doggies from Sparky. If they haven’t found homes by October, you might liaise with them at Gelson’s. But that shouldn’t stop you from adopting one now—contact [email protected].



Sparky and the Gang saves dogs in the most dog-awful conditions in California and Mexico, or pulled from shelters where they’re seen as hopeless cases. The pooches are then transformed into physical, loveable friends. They’re all spayed or neutered, fostered, fed good stuff, socialized and loved. Take Sunny—please. A concerned person in Mexico contacted Sparky about a little crippled dog—a Lab/beagle mix only 6 months old. Sunny required $5,000 in surgery to save both his back legs. He can now take walks with his new human!

Dugan and Rico Suave

Dugan (left) and Rico Suave were rescued from the San Bernardino city shelter. Both of them need surgery—Dugan needs an operation on his leg, and Rico needs a leg amputation. Both are under a year old.

Sparky and the Gang operates through in-kind and monetary donations. Check out the donation page for information.

Things to Do, Pets to Support

Fix Long Beach Free Spay/Neuter Clinic—sponsored by Friends of Long Beach Animals. Saturday, Aug. 11, 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Ramona Park, 3301 E. 65th St. at Obispo Avenue, Long Beach

Have your cat spayed or neutered free with appointment and qualifications; vet appointment with voucher, minimal charge for dogs and cats; flea meds $10; shots and dewormer $10 each; nail trimming, $10.

Make an appointment through IM or email at [email protected] for your dog, and include (1) your name, (2) address, (3) phone number, (4) pet’s name, (5) age, (6) sex, (7) breed, and (8) weight, and Fix will see if they can schedule you. You can also come as a standby, but be there at 8:30 a.m.. Make sure that your pet has had nothing to eat or drink past 10 p.m. the previous night.

Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw

Saving Kittens’ Lives workshop and fundraiser, with Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2 to 4 p.m., El Dorado Park West Community Center, 2800 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach. Tickets: $39.95; a portion of ticket sales will benefit The Little Lion Foundation.

If you’re expecting an eccentric cat person raving about kitties, yes. But you have no idea where her whimsies will take you or how much you’ll learn about cat care! Hannah Shaw can captivate an audience the way that little birdie does to the cat on the other side of the window—she’ll teach you how to care for underage, orphaned kittens so that more lives will be saved. Best of all, your ticket purchase will help The Little Lion Foundation do just that as well! Purchase tickets here.

K9 Kismet Yappy Hour: Friday, Sept. 28, Baja Sharkeez, 211 Main St. Huntington Beach. $25 wristbands at the door; $20 at[email protected]

K9 Kismet is raising money for the puppies of one of its rescues. Kayla—Fiona now—has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder called urachal remnant abnormality, and three of her siblings are symptomatic, as is momma Salem. Their adopters are going through a series of diagnostics to confirm or rule out this disorder, including urinalysis, ultrasounds, medications and potentially corrective surgery. One expects healthy puppies at adoption, and the adopters aren’t prepared to financially tackle this type of condition. We feel it is our duty to stand by our adopters and help them get these babies healthy. So, come down and enjoy two-for-one drinks, appetizers, Jello shots, raffles, prizes and a 50/50 drawing. How could you have any more fun helping? K9 Kismet is a 501c3 rescue, and all donations are tax deductible.

Pet First Aid and CPR Class: Saturday, Sept. 29, Bloomfield Animal Hospital, 20927 Norwalk Blvd., Lakewood. Free event; register online here.

Join up to learn how to administer CPR and first aid to your pet. This event could save your pet’s life.

‘Show Us Your Kitties!’ Calendar Contest, benefitting Helen Sanders Cat Paws: To Sept. 30, guidelines here. $10 to reserve a date for your cat on the calendar; $1 per vote for an entire page, $5 minimum starting vote.

Want to help Helen Sanders CatPAWS raise money to save cats from public shelters? Submit a photo of your kitty and/or vote for your favorite kitties! Also, because CatPAWS believes in working with other groups toward our common goal of saving more lives, you may designate an organization other than Helen Sanders CatPAWS as a recipient when you enter. If you are one of the top three winners, a portion of the money raised after expenses will go to that group! For $10, you can also reserve a date for your own cat’s birthday. All funds benefit pets.

Pup-Crawl for Dog-toberfest, to benefit Fix Long Beach: Saturday, Oct. 20, 5 to 9 p.m., Red Leprechaun, 4000 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Tickets: $50; includes drink tickets and appetizer.

Hop on The Big Red Bus for all the fun you can handle! Fix Long Beach’s fund-raiser will begin at Red Leprechaun and stop at Malainey’s Grill, Shenanigans and Gallagher’s. Your ticket includes a drink ticket for beer, wine or champagne, and appetizers at one location. Drink sales will continue on the bus for an additional cost. You’ll meet at the Red Leprechaun at 5 p.m., The Big Red Bus will pick up at 6 p.m., and you’ll return to The Red Lep at 9 p.m. The Red Leprechaun will be staying open late for dinner. If you know a business or individual that would like to fly their banner on the bus, please email [email protected]. All proceeds will go toward Fix’s goal of spay/neuter and rescue in the LBC.

Please send any Long Beach or Seal Beach pet-related events or projects to [email protected]. Posting subject to approval.


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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”