On Saturday, December 20 at 11:15 p.m., around 75 volunteers for Operation Santa Paws gathered at the site occupied by Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (spcaLA) to bring well-deserved cheer and comfort to the cats, dogs, rabbits and other creatures waiting there. The items that had been donated by individuals or left at collection boxes at various area locations were brought to the ACS/spcaLA parking lot. The gifts—toys, towels, bowls, bedding, treats, food and other necessities and delights were distributed among the two Long Beach facilities, Seal Beach Animal Care Center (SBACC) and Orange County Animal Care Services in Orange.

Gift cards and individual donations were also donated to favorite rescues and shelters, and checks will be written to selected organizations by Operation Santa Paws. Long Beach community activist Justin Rudd started the operation eight years ago and has since inspired cities in 20 other states besides California to play Santa to shelter pets nationwide. Santa really does get to be in several places at once.

Operation Santa Paws coordinator Nancy Buchanan (in white sweatshirt) and volunteers organized the gifts. The volunteers grabbed a few treats and toys and headed for the shelter entrance. Two of the volunteers had found a small poodle mix the day before and were hoping to find her a forever home. They’d already named her, however—Suzie—and we know how that goes. Someone’s looking forward to a real Christmas.

ACS bureau manager John Keisler thanks an unusually clean-shaven Santa and his elves for making furry spirits bright. “We want [the animals] to have as humane an experience possible,” Keisler said. “I look at this as a foundation for creating community involvement.” Keisler added that toys help animals become socialized and adoptable—there are few things as endearing as watching an animal enjoy himself or herself.

Young Skyler McClean is probably hoping for a little “brother” or “sister” as mom Chris gives treats to happy tail-waggers.

Stephanie Loftin administers goodies and kind counsel. We hope that she can find someone to bail these kitties out.

Here’s Momcat nursing her babies. The best gift that anyone can give the rest of the animal world is spaying or neutering so that they won’t wind up in shelters or colonies.

“Rub my chops and I’ll pull your sleigh forever, Santa Paws.”

“This has been a lean year,” said Jo Trent, manager at spcaLA. “Everything is welcome—and any who want to adopt!”

Residents at the spcaLA Cat Condos enjoy a treat and a toy before leaping onto Santa’s lap.

Then there’s this guy, who didn’t want to share.

“We operate solely by volunteer effort and donations, and you have no idea what this means to us,” said Jane Parnes, SBACC board member and Dog Welfare Committee chair as she thanked Santa Paws and his volunteers for the sleighful of cleaning supplies, food, treats and toys.

Janet Wood brings goodies to the center’s “bookends,” Sammy and Axel.

“So, ho ho ho, what do you want for Christmas, little fellow?” (Cute ankles, Santy.)

“Forever homes, for me and every abandoned animal in the world.”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.
–    Francis Pharcellus Church’s unsigned editorial in The New York Sun, 1897

Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) was invited to hop aboard the sleigh with Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster’s Food Program.  This means that you can take pet food donations for pets in need to Food Finders.  Many families who benefit from the Food Program also have pets in need of food.  We only have a couple of days left to make some donations of pet food for those pets, so please give this your urgent attention.  Pet Food donations can be dropped off directly during the day at Food Finders located at 3434 Atlantic Ave. 90807, just north of the 405 Freeway.  Thank you in advance for helping some of the less fortunate at this Holiday time. Our Board of Directors wishes each and every one of our friends, members and supporters a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.