We opened our four-part series on pet overpopulation with “Responsibility: The Ball’s in Your Court—Retrieve It!” In the article, we addressed many of the whys and hows involved in combating the overwhelming number of unwanted cats, dogs and other companion animals that we generally refer to as pets, and the subsequent victim state for most of these voiceless creatures.

The following profiles describe the whos: the groups that advocate and activate solutions to the problem and the people who contribute huge amounts of energy to make this happen. AB 1634, (California Healthy Pets Act—see article below) has been spayed and neutered itself and finally euthanized, and we have a growing number and insuperability of barriers to pet overpopulation solutions—lack of education about the consequences of breeding; irresponsibility; treating litters as commodities by breeding the mothers and selling the babies on the street; the mortgage crisis, which has left so many former family members relinquished or abandoned; and the costs of the procedures themselves, which generally range from $150 to $600, depending on species, gender and size of the animal, and what each veterinarian charges. Generally, charges for spay/neuter make it difficult or impossible for someone with a big heart and high standards but a small wallet and a low income to do the right thing with his or her companion animal.

In the face of all this, it’s amazing that we have such a number of people who strive to reach out to the public and create affordable spay/neuter programs. The mission has extended to the United States Postal Service and the funny papers: both the post office and Mutts Comics in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (no surprise there; creator Patrick McDonnell is a longtime advocate of animal rights) have come out with spay/neuter stamps; the USPS’s was launched in 2002 and are now unavailable, and Mutts’s is still available through Zazzle.com. This article in our series spotlights local stewards and organizations that fight—and definitely not tirelessly, for it is an exhausting battle—to make every pet a wanted one.

Mutts Spay-Neuter postage stamp, courtesy Zazzle.com

In this part of the section, we introduce you to Spay/Neuter Incentive Program (SNIP) and Pet Assistance Foundation (PAF). In the closing part, we’ll profile Long Beach Spay/Neuter, Animal Match Rescue Team, Hearts for Hounds and Golden State Humane Society Animal Care Center.

United States Postal Service

Click here to purchase Mutts spay/neuter stamps.

Spay/Neuter Incentive Program (SNIP): One Wish for All Animals

Not long ago, near a long beach not fur, fur away, a covey of fairy godmothers convened one afternoon to plan a bestowal of blessings on the less fortunate creatures who live in the town.

On May 3, 1999, five members of Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) organized an essential component of FOLBA that would address spaying and neutering dogs, cats and rabbits for individuals needing financial assistance to obtain the procedures. They blessed their creation with the name Spay/Neuter Incentive Program, which yielded a rather graphic acronym: SNIP.

“Any time we tell any of the guys about it, they cross their legs,” said Nona Daly, FOLBA vice president and one of SNIP’s founders.

Okay, so they’re not Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, but what they’ve done and continue to do to help a target population to stem pet overpopulation and keep their own pets safe and healthy would rank them with the best of Grimm and Disney. They don’t use magic wands, either—it takes dedication and the work that comes with it.

Friends was founded in 1989 to assist in spotlighting the animals at the old Long Beach Shelter on Willow Street and to recognize animal control officers as animal heroes instead of the old sobriquet of dog catcher. There was no spay/neuter component of the organization, although the organization assisted with a portion of the fees charged to fix adopted animals at the old shelter, and they had an outreach funded by an individual monetary gift to help senior citizens alter their pets. There was no program, however, that directly addressed pet overpopulation.

Daly, former owner and proprietor of Nona’s Framing and Gallery, joined FOLBA shortly after it formed. Daly had been active in cat adoption previous to joining; with permission from shelter officials, she was displaying cats for adoption in her Second Street store. Daly would select one cat who was scheduled for extinction to be the lucky one and would replace him or her with another after the cat found a forever home.

“Here were all these cats, and I had to pick out one so he could have an extra week,” Daly said.

Daly’s epiphany was creeping up on her like one of the cats after a rubber band. It got closer and more species-inclusive the day when she was taking one of her adoptees out of the shelter and saw an animal control officer leading a happy, waggy dog that had no idea of his fate into the facility. But the lightbulb didn’t turn on full wattage until the day that FOLBA president Shirley Vaughan told her about a Spay Day event during which 162 animals were altered by local veterinarian Dr. W.M Mackie.

“I didn’t realize about pet overpopulation until I attended the event,” Daly said. “I thought, that’s the kind of thing we need to do.”

SNIP had its formative meeting and organized as a component of FOLBA on March 1, 1999. The organizing committee, all FOLBA members, included Mavis Rasmussen, the late author/activist Brenda Weathers, FOLBA treasurer Margo Carter, Vaughan and Daly. The program’s objective was to provide an incentive for people needing financial assistance as an impetus to, as Carter put it, get off their rumps and spay or neuter their animals through low-cost veterinarians. SNIP negotiated a price for lower-cost procedures for SNIP referrals at three local veterinary hospitals and came up with vouchers for people in need to redeem at the veterinaries. The cost for spaying and neutering, with the exception of a small copay, would be picked up by SNIP.

The first count after the launch didn’t stray far from the mother ship; the first bill from the veterinarian totaled $923.

“That’s the amount we paid to alter 24 cats and 13 dogs—not many, considering that it was three months time,” Carter said.

To an outsider, it seems pretty good, especially for a fledgling organization, but Daly and the group were determined to get SNIP in full flight mode. The group found ways to raise funds, some of them quite creative: sale of a cookbook with contributions by FOLBA members and friends; the first WALK, which took place at Heartwell Park and requested a $10 donation per participating dog; and a bounty program, which offered $5 to anyone with an unaltered male cat to take him to the vet and receive $5 plus a free neuter. SNIP’s first fund-raiser was a yard sale at the home of Cindy and John Gonzales, two active members. To the delight of the group, they raised $1,500.

Courtesy Friends of Long Beach Animals

Getting people to participate in fund-raisers and donate was less complicated than reaching people in need without attracting individuals who could afford the procedure and were morally ineligible but wanted to take advantage anyway. This was addressed by placing advertisements in publications like the Pennysaver, sending city mailers to selected zip codes, word of mouth from members, and by Daly, vouchers in hand, merrily tripping around to Laundromats and liquor stores in areas where the group felt there was need. In the year when SNIP offered the Big Fix, which offered a period of free spay/neuter and further incentives like DVD-player drawings, Nona and the group hired a company to distribute 20,000 door hangers in the target areas.

“Nona’s the Queen of Spay/Neuter,” Vaughan said. We still prefer fairy godmother.

SNIP continues its voucher program and hopes to revive and continue their free altering events on a quarterly basis. But, as we said, these godmothers don’t have magic wands. They need donations, they said, but even more, they want people to take responsibility for their pets. With a growing population of humans also comes a growing population of pets. The number of animals euthanized increases yearly, even with all the programs to assist.

“We do 2,100 animals a year, at a cost to SNIP of $114,000 annually,” Carter said. “And that number is a drop in the bucket of unfixed animals.”


Pet Assistance Foundation: Dealing with the Root Cause

One of the more creative efforts by the Pet Assistance Foundation (PAF), a nonprofit spay/neuter foundation centered in San Pedro, was to erect billboards in various locations that said, “Fix them or kill them.” This is a statement of consequence and not a directive, and the lack of a beamy little exclamation point at the end of the sentence makes the message even more somber.

HSUS estimates that between 6 million and 8 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year, and only half that number get adopted. Anyone who knows the simple facts of life knows where the animals come from, and it’s PAF’s mission to stop the glut of unwanted litters and large numbers of euthanized animals. PAF offers education, referrals to low-cost veterinary facilities and subsidies for people who cannot afford to alter their pets.

“Our charter is set up in such a way that we can do anything we want to help companion animals,” said Wendy Aragon, who is PAF’s president and has been involved with spay/neuter and humane work for 35 years. “If branches want to adopt animals, raise money, foster, they’re free to do these kinds of things. The Long Beach branch is active in this area.”

PAF’s branches are located in the Antelope, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys; South Bay; Orange and San Diego counties, Los Angeles and the Mid-City area, which includes a chapter in Long Beach. The organization is volunteer-run, and conducts humane education and outreach through brochures, school assemblies and adoption events. In the Long Beach area, cats and kittens—and they have some beauties—may be adopted Sunday afternoons inside Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies in Long Beach (4700 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.) and at the Lakewood Petco (5215 Lakewood Blvd.).

PAF is one of the most venerable organizations in Southern California founded to curtail pet overpopulation, and the oldest one that is operative. It began in 1955 to address what Aragon calls the root cause of animal suffering—breeding more animals than there are loving homes for them.

“When something is cheap and plentiful, people can abuse it,” Aragon said. “If a pet gets hit by a car—just get another. Animals aren’t given the respect that sentient human beings are given. People will often say, ‘I let my cat or dog have a litter and my family wants them.’ Then they bring in the last two that no one wants, and our poor overwhelmed rescues have to refer them to shelters. Or they’ll say, ‘I won’t take them to a pound because they’ll kill them. I’ll just take them to a park.’ Then the animals die anyway from predators, starvation or disease.”

The population and culture are changing and growing in leaps and bounds, Aragon said, and PAF uses outreach and education to teach people that pets aren’t rights but responsibilities, just as human children are. For those who have the knowledge but not the means or the resources in that area, there is also assistance from PAF.

Aragon decried the gradual demise of AB 1634, and said that “uncorrupted state legislation without breeders or anyone else lining their pockets” would do well in controlling the numbers of unwanted litters. Long Beach has an ordinance against unlicensed dog breeding and another against keeping unaltered cats, but enforcement of these laws so far has been difficult, due to understaffing of Animal Care Services Bureau.  For immediate purposes, however, PAF desperately needs Web site assistance, fostering and phone volunteers.

“It’s hard to keep dedicated volunteers,” Aragon said. “They get emotionally involved—you deal with so many people who need education in spay/neuter. There are times when I have to stop, or I’ll lose my mind. You get up in the morning and think, have I done everything to address all these issues?”

Main Office
150 W. 6th St.
San Pedro, CA 90731
Administration: (310) 732-1230
Hotline: (877) 972-9738

Ongoing Events and Adoptions

A Toy for Every Animal
The City of Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) receives many requests for ways to volunteer to help the animals at our shelter. Currently, Animal Care Services is promoting the slogan “A Toy for Every Animal” to improve health and wellness. Chew toys like the Red Kong toys help keep animals’ minds and bodies engaged, leading to greater health and a higher rate of adoption.

Young Abby is delighted to think of the pooch getting her donated toy

HOW YOU CAN HELP The City of Long Beach Animal Care Services has implemented a new program for collecting all sizes of Red Kong toys for shelter dogs at LBACS. The irresistible chew toy is indestructible and safe. It can be easily cleaned and disinfected after each use.

PURCHASING A TOY Purchase all sizes of Red Kong toys directly here or at most pet stores. Either drop them off at LBACS, located on the same premises as the P.D. Pitchford Animal Shelter, or have them shipped directly to the following address:

Long Beach Animal Care Services
7700 E. Spring Street
Long Beach, CA 90815
Contact: Debra Brubaker, Public Health Associate (562) 570-7387

DONATIONS We are working closely with our registered rescue organizations, including the Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA), to obtain toys for the dogs as well as the cats in the care of LBACS. Monetary donations to the Friends of Long Beach Animals’ will allow FOLBA to purchase Kitty Woofer balls for cats or the Red Kong toys for dogs. Send the check to:

Friends of Long Beach Animals
P.O. Box 92736
Long Beach, CA 90809-2736

Specify “dog toy” or “cat toy” on the memo line.

Hearts for Hounds
10:30 a.m.–1 p.m. every Sunday.
Alamitos Bay Marina Farmer’s Market, E. Marina Drive, just south of 2nd Street, Long Beach, CA.

Hearts for Hounds is also celebrating 10 years at the Alamitos Bay Farmer’s Market and 12,000 lives saved so far. Right now, HFH needs the community’s support more than need financial support to cover the ongoing expenses such as food, shelter, transportation and medical expenses. Ongoing needs include food, bedding, towels, medicines, toys, pet enclosures, bathing needs, cleaning supplies heating pads and donations for medical care, spay/neuter, boarding, transportation and many other things.
To view adoptable dogs, volunteer or donate, visit www.heartsforhounds.com
Animal Match Rescue Team
10:30 a.m.–1 p.m. every Sunday
Long Beach Petco in the Whole Foods Shopping Center, 6500 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA

To view adoptable dogs, volunteer or donate, visit amrt.net (Long Beach Small Dog Adoption).


Sept. 12–13
Basic Animal Emergency Services Training
Be prepared when disaster strikes. Learn about animal first aid, shelter setup and response, incident command systems and more. This course trains you to be able to assist in your community, and it is the first step to becoming an American Humane Red Star Animal Emergency ServicesT volunteer. You can make a difference for animals that are all too often left behind when disasters strike. This class will get you ready! Presented by American Humane. $85 members, $100 nonmembers. This class is at the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA, 361 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena 91105, (626) 792-7151
Click here

Sept. 18
Coffee with the Commander
Join East Division Commander Cynthia Renaud for a cup and a chat, and maybe a biscuit or two. K-9 Officer Winston will be there to discuss his career as one of LBPD’s top dogs, and his human partner, K-9 Officer Joe Valenzuela, will translate. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m. at Polly’s Bakery Café, 4680 E. Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach. Contact the East Division at (562) 570-5880.

Sept. 21
Sunday Night Live Comedy
Comedian Lynda Montgomery hosts two performances of rowdy comedy, and if any one can find the humor in animal rescue, it’s Lynda. Performances are at 6 and 8 p.m. and are accompanied by wine and a raffle. Buy tickets at AMRT Rescue in front of Petco on Sunday afternoons or at the Launderpets for $10, or pay $15 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Friends of Long Beach Animals and Animal Match Rescue Team for spay/neuter education and animal welfare. At Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach 90804

Sept. 27
Seal Beach Wag ‘n’ Walk
The Seal Beach Animal Care Center’s annual event is a chance for you to take a healthy walk with your pet and raise money and awareness for the animals in residence at Seal Beach Animal Care Center. Long Beach neighborhood activist Justin Rudd and his bulldog Rosie will be grand marshals. Participants need not be accompanied by an animal. Fetch information at our Web site.

Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals
The Walk for Farm Animals is coming to Santa Monica, and the farm animals are depending upon you to step up and help raise awareness and funds for Farm Sanctuary’s vital rescue, education and advocacy efforts! Take steps toward compassion by participating in your local Walk. Walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Santa Monica City Hall Lawn, 1685 Main St., Santa Monica 90401. A post-walk drumming circle will follow. Companion animals welcome, of course!

Sept. 28
A Dog’s Life Rescue Sale
Join us for an afternoon sale to benefit humans’ best friend. Designers, showrooms and various companies have generously donated so many incredible items—clothing for women, men, kids, swimwear, shoes, bags, restaurant certificates, spa certificates, hotel stays and more. Get amazing deals while supporting the animals who so need all of us. The event takes place at Falcon, 7213 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90046 from noon–5 p.m. (early bird entry, 11 a.m., $20). For more information or if you have items to donate, please call 310 590 7387

Oct. 4
Interfaith Blessing of the Animals
The annual Interfaith Blessing of the Animals takes place at noon on St. Francis Day at Marine Stadium, 5225 E. Paoli Way, Long Beach. The event is free to the public and their pets. Seniors, families, singles, and children are encouraged to bring their dogs, cats, birds, lizards, rabbits, pot-bellied pigs, fish, tortoises and turtles, and other well-behaved pets. After brief orations from each of approximately seven leaders of various faiths in raiment representative of his or her faith, the menagerie of participants will have the opportunity to line up single-file to be blessed by any or all of the clergy. Olive branches and holy water will be available. Free event.

Small Dog Festival and Chihuahua Beauty Contest
In conjunction with the Interfaith Blessing of the Animals, hundreds of Chihuahuas and other small dog breeds will be celebrated in a big way at 1 p.m. at the Marine Stadium. Other events include the Pet Adoptions and Vendor Fair, 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; the Small Dog Yappy Hour and Contests, 11 a.m.; Interfaith Blessing of the Animals, noon, and Chihuahua Beauty Contest, 1 p.m. All events are free to spectate; the Chihuahua Beauty Contest entry fee is $10/advance or $20 on the day of the festival. Sponsors: Haute Dogs and Councilman Gary DeLong’s office. Vendors and rescues contact [email protected].

Compassionate Cuisine
Join in the celebration of World Vegetarian Day! Delicious vegetarian dishes to sample, music by Makena and appearances by special guest speakers. Tickets are $35 and available online; all proceeds will benefit Animal Acres, a framed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center. The event takes place 5–9 p.m. at the Second City Council Gallery, 435 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach 90802.

Oct. 19
Host a Humane Bloc Party
The 2008 elections are right around the corner, and the opportunity for animal advocates to form a “Humane Voting Bloc” and have an impact at the voting booth has never been greater. Join the Humane Society Legislative Fund as we party to get political for animals with our nationwide Humane Bloc Party on Sunday, October 19th! Party Animals is a fun and unique way to support the Humane Society Legislative Fund. The HSLF works at the state and federal level on animal protection legislation and also works to support humane candidates for office. By hosting a Humane Bloc Party, you can invite your friends, neighbors and co-workers to party with a purpose and become part of the Humane Voting Bloc! It won’t be a party without you.

Oct. 26
Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade and Pet Adoption Fair
See Pumpkin Pups, Masked Meowvels, Pirate Parrots and all the critters out for their own trick or treat. The parade starts at 2:30 p.m. on the sidewalks of 2nd Street. Pre-parade entertainment, vendors and adoption fair will be held at Livingston Park, Belmont Shore and will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s the biggest Halloween pet event in the world! Presented by HauteDogs.org and Justin Rudd. (You might want to stay for the huge Kids’ Halloween Costume Contest at 4:30 p.m!)

Please e-mail any Long Beach-area animal-related events to [email protected].

Evening at the Stray Cat Club
The Stray Cat Alliance presents a gala evening of entertainment, vegan entrees and a three-course dinner, silent auctions, a masquerade and Stray Cat Martinis! The event takes place from 5:30–9:30 p.m. at the Historic Ebell Club, 743 S Lucerne Blvd, Los Angeles 90005. Enjoy pet patter from the evening’s host, Warren Eckstein, host of The Pet Show. Honorees include councilmembers Tony Cardenas and Richard Alarcon. Tickets online, $175, $200 at the door; proceeds benefit the Stray Cat Alliance. If you wish to donate an item for the auction or to volunteer, please call (818) 516-1622.


In the News
Spay/neuter awareness campaign planned in L.A. With less than a month left for los Angelenos to alter their pets, LA Animal Services is partnering with a group of animal welfare advocates, organizations, city officials, community leaders and celebrities to launch a citywide spay/neuter awareness campaign in conjunction with the October 1, 2008 date for the beginning of active enforcement of the landmark spay/neuter ordinance approved in February. The new law requires all cats and dogs in the City of Los Angeles to be altered after four months of age, with some specific exemptions allowed. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed this ordinance on Feb. 26, making Los Angeles the national leader in efforts to humanely decrease the number of pets abandoned and euthanized each year. We at Pet Post hope that enforcement won’t be necessary. For more information and a fact sheet on the new spay and neuter law, please visit www.laanimalservices.com/spayneuterlaw.htm.

The new law requires all cats and dogs in the City of Los Angeles be spayed or neutered after four months of age, with some specific exemptions allowed. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed this ordinance on Feb. 26, 2008, making Los Angeles the national leader in efforts to humanely decrease the number of pets abandoned and euthanized each year. The spay/neuter law is a tool for Animal Services to hold accountable those pet owners whose irresponsibility threatens public safety and fills our animal care centers with homeless dogs and cats. For more information and a fact sheet on the new spay and neuter law, please visit www.laanimalservices.com/spayneuterlaw.htm.

Genesis Awards on AmericanLife TV Tune in to watch celebrity presenters honoring the most groundbreaking, the most inspirational, the most courageous, and the most entertaining media coverage of animal protection issues. Recipients include Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, presented with the Wyler Award for using her celebrity to spotlight Japan’s brutal annual dolphin slaughter. Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. and midnight, or see highlights on Animal Rescue Sept. 20–21.

Dangerous pet toy
We all get those e-mails warning us about nefarious deeds of political candidates, horror stories about people with or without hooks crouching under our cars to get what’s left of us after we fill our tanks with gas, and viruses that never made the news. We always check ours out at Snopes.com, which is the best place to go to arm yourself against the Old Wives. So when we got the e-mail about the dangerous doggy toys on the market, that’s where we went, and it turned out to be factual. Visit http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/pimpleball.asp, then bookmark the page and quit sending us all those damned recipes for cell phone popcorn.

Remember to Vote Yes on Proposition 2, the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.