Sherri Stankewitz was driving down the street when she spotted a woman riding a bike with two little dogs in the basket. Stankewitz rolled down the window and hollered, “‘Hey, you wanna get your dogs spayed or neutered?”

“Heck, yes!” came the return holler.

“She rode right down to our facility, and she was so happy to get her dogs fixed,” Stankewitz said.

The facility is the Fix Long Beach clinic, at 1749 Magnolia Ave. in Long Beach. Stankewitz is the founder of the Sparky and the Gang animal rescue, which recently formed a partnership with Fix Long Beach. Since its founding in 2013, Fix Long Beach would host free spay/neuter and vaccination clinics at parks in areas of the city where the need was great. Now, with a facility, Fix Long Beach offers spay/neuter and vaccinations, bloodwork, low-cost dental, minor surgery and other procedures that weren’t available in the mobile clinic. Sparky and the Gang has its headquarters there and no longer has to scramble for low-cost procedures for her rescues.

Because of the overhead from the clinic, Fix Long Beach no longer can offer the services for free. But even with low prices and the discount that shelter vouchers offer, “affordable” is relative. Not everyone can afford them, and that includes Terri, who lives in a tent on the street.

Situations like Terri’s are not unique, said Stankewitz. During her 25 years in rescue, she would encounter people living on the streets with their pets.

“It broke my heart,” she said. “Then, I’d have conversations with the people, and I’d think, that’s their family! Everyone thinks a dog should be in a home—I do agree, but I also think there are homeless people who take very good care of their animals but need that extra help.”

Stankewitz recently created Paw Street Outreach, which involves reaching out to people and pets with very low or no income living on the streets, in RVs, parks or riverbeds. Paw Street Outreach will provide the pets with free spay/neuter surgery and other procedures and fund it through designated donations. Stankewitz suggested Facebook birthday fundraisers with donations going through either Sparky and the Gang’s PayPal page or to Fix Long Beach’s donations page. Donations should be tagged with “Paw Street Outreach” in the message box. The program will also provide food, pet toys, collars, leashes and microchips.

“I’ve always been doing this, but we just put a name to it,” Stankewitz said.

Stankewitz said that she’s considering finding a way to get the animals licensed as well and using the clinic as the address for the pets.

Convincing people that spaying and neutering their pets is best for both the animals’ health and for pet populations as a whole isn’t easy, but Stankewitz has patience. Her approach is always to educate and not taking a hard stand. Besides, she has at least one ambassador.

“It’s just the best thing that can happen for them,” Terri said. “Because, you know, if you’ve got dogs, you never know when you’re going to get put out of the house. If they get pregnant and have a bunch of babies, where you going to take them? And if you don’t, if the shelter gets them, you’re going to have to pay $269 to get them out!”