With the ‘pandemic pet’ adoption rush slowing, pet foster homes are needed

The “pandemic pet” adoption rush seems to have petered out, and shelters are once again low on kennel space. Stray and unwanted dogs keep coming in, and people still find kittens everywhere.

Rescues are short on humans willing to foster pets, too. This limits their ability to pull animals from shelters and ease the stress on staff, services and the pets themselves. Fostering an animal is one more way to help mitigate shelter overcrowding and socialize pets for new homes. It occupies a point somewhere on the shelter-overpopulation continuum, between spay/neuter at one end and adoption one on other. Giving an animal a temporary home for however long it takes will help to socialize them for the transition to a permanent place and give comfort to those with medical needs and to older animals.

“We need fosters to save more lives—it’s that simple,” said Deborah Felin Magaldi of the Helen Sanders CatPAWS cat rescue.

Megan Hong, community outreach director at Pet Food Express, said that fostering animals nurtures a sense of safety for them, helps develop their personalities, and reduces the stress of living in a kennel, which even exemplary shelter employees and volunteers say is an unnatural environment for them. It also doubles down on lifesaving.

“[Fostering can] save the life of an animal who can use socializing, and it saves the life of another animal who can now take their place in a kennel,” Hong said. “It saves lives, but it also improves lives.”

If having a pet for a limited time appeals to you because you don’t know whether you or your housemates are ready for a commitment, there’s no time like now. Of course, while fostering a pet is a lot of fun, it’s not fun and games—it’s a responsibility and a commitment to as much time and care as it takes. All animals need good food, water and, at least at first, privacy. Dogs need to be bathed, brushed and walked; cats need clean litter boxes; and rabbits need specific types of hay and bedding and have no access to anything chewable that they shouldn’t chew on, like electrical cords. Newborn kittens at first need hourly bottle feedings, poop expressing, and monitoring—check out The Kitten Lady’s newborn kitten page for details. Medical fosters will need care specific to their age and illness. Some rescues have begun scheduled in-person adoption events, and you may be asked to transport them there. Any of them might need visits to the vet.

“Virtually every rescue is desperate for volunteers,” said Louise Montgomery, a 20-year volunteer and foster for Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue. “However, once a foster steps up to take a dog or cat or a litter, it becomes their responsibility. The rescue will provide crates, pens, food, and so on, and reimbursement for expenses, but it ultimately is the foster that needs to coordinate, my point being that fostering is a big commitment and it does not stop and start on the foster’s schedule.”

Shelters and rescues worthy of the name, and all of them linked in the “Adopt, adopt, adopt” section at the end of the column are, will provide detailed instructions along with food, supplies and any medical necessities. You might opt to help them out in that area if you can. The foster team will also quiz you like a fourth-grade teacher to make sure that you’re the right match for a cat or a dog.

“We are a responsible organization—we screen fosters, we interview and we do home visits, so it’s a process,” Felin Magaldi said. “We don’t just hand cats out to whoever says that they can foster, and we typically like to have preapproved fosters in advance. If we don’t have qualified, available fosters, we cannot take more cats!”

Helen Sanders CatPAWS has a thoroughly developed foster application and training.

Yes, it’s a responsibility and a commitment, but it’s also rewarding and can be habit forming.

Hong said that the biggest challenge of fostering is saying goodbye when it’s time, whether it’s end of life for hospices or, more happily, transport to a good home.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see your foster go to a loving home,” Montgomery said. “Every day on my Facebook memory, a dog’s face appears from a year ago or five years ago.” I think of it as sending the kids off to college.”

Montgomery said that the difference between fostering and adopting is that a foster cares for an animal that isn’t wanted and the adopter truly wants the pet and will give it a lifetime of love and care. A good number of people I know—a couple of them work for the Long Beach Post—are fully aware that “foster” and “adopt” can meld. Some of us call it foster-fail and others, foster-success. Like Shakespeare’s rose, and litter boxes and poop bags aside, both terms smell sweet.

Virtually Pets

Most of the links to rescues at the end of the column under “Adopt, adopt, adopt” have foster programs or will release pets to people willing to foster. Here are a few hopefuls.

Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS), [email protected]gov

Long Beach Animal Care Services doesn’t have a formal fostering program, but you can now foster pets from the shelter. This will not only help to mitigate the full-kennel situation but will also help the medical staff to care for sick pets, especially if you foster an animal with medical issues. The shelter staff is shorthanded, and there’s a small core group of volunteers. The facility is absolutely full, and fosters and adopters are desperately needed. You can view all the pets here—if a dog tugs at your heartstrings or a cat bats at them, contact the shelter at for fostering information.

little black dog with brown paws holds a toy animal almost as big as he is in his mouth. He stands on grass.

Please help Lucas (ID#A657334)! He is still patiently waiting at our shelter for someone who would love to foster or adopt him. He’s about 2 years old and is neutered. He’s a kelpie—possibly a mix—and weighs about 25 pounds. He loves to play—his best friends are Mr. Tennis Ball, Mr. Bouncy Ball and, of course, the volunteers.

 

brown kelpie dog with tan chin and white paws stands on grass

This puppers is named Happy (ID# A592389), but she’s the stoic and reserved kind of happy. She has come around from being very scared and she is still a bit cautious but is improving every day! If you put no pressure on her, she will come up to you in a friendly manner and take treats. Happy is 12 years old and spayed. If you have patience and empathy for a senior, she just may capture your heart and make you very happy yourself!

fluffy black cat with white chest and paws and a pink nose lies in a kennel, looking out

Miss Arizona (ID#A654830) is a sweet cat that loves making biscuits with her back paws! She will immediately start moving her back legs once you start to scratch her. Sadly, she has cancer and needs a foster/hospice home. Helen Sanders CatPAWS is raising the funds for her cancer treatment if a hospice can be found, and we so hope one shows up for her. This scrappy girl has survived so much, and seven months is too long to be in a shelter. She mustn’t die there. Please, please make an appointment to meet her.

 

Helen Sanders CatPAWS, [email protected], foster application available here

green-eyed black cat stares at camera as she lies downsmall black cat with green eyes sits tall and stares in bewilderment at camera. He sits on a tan surface.

CatPAWS has an immediate need for fosters for two cats—a mom and daughter adopted from us in February and returned recently when their adopter entered long-term hospitalization and the family couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take the cats. Soda is the mom—she’s very friendly—and RC is the daughter. RC is not even a year old now, and she’s a little scared but docile. She’s learning to relax again and play under the care of volunteers. Right now, the rescue is boarding them, and the volunteers are doing what they can to keep their spirits up, but they’d do better in a home.

Seal Beach Animal Care Center (SBACC), contact [email protected]

silver tabby with bright blue eyes and white chest, paws and legs lies on a bed and stares into camera. He holds a banana-shape cat toy.

SBACC has a foster program for underage kittens only, and they’re covered there. But they do have “a very special cat who needs a very special foster home.” His name is Xander. He was living in a Walmart parking lot when an SBACC volunteer spotted him. Shelter volunteers find him to be a “relaxed, handsome and friendly boy and also quite a talker.” He’s one of those cats who does a belly flop as soon as they see you, and he purrs up a storm when you accept his tummy-rub invite. Sadly, the vet found a significant heart murmur, and a cardiac consultation revealed a serious congenital heart defect that will probably shorten his life. He’s doing well on his meds, but he needs less stimulation, which is difficult with the “roommates” and visitors. He needs a stress-free foster home with someone who could give him his daily medications and take him to his cardiologist appointments. Of course, SBACC will pay all expenses. Email SBACC at the address above, and visit this link to find out more about Xander.

 

Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue, [email protected]

 “COVID-10 has left us void of volunteers that are able to sit and cuddle, walk our sheltered animals or provide the love and attention they crave,” Louise Montgomery said. “Rescue takes a village, and fostering helps us to keep a village of dedicated rescue people all doing their part to make this world a better place for pups like Ronnie and Nutella.”

 tan Chihuahua emerges from under a blanket and sits.

Ronnie is 2 years old and had a loving home along with two siblings. HIs family was unable to keep him as their four two-legged children required more care than any one of us could imagine. Ronnie is one of the three pups they surrendered. He is a little shy at first, but he’s gentle and loving and horribly confused by all of the upheaval he has experienced.

small tan dog with white paws and huge ears stands on cement

Nutella is a great example of why foster is needed. She gave birth to a litter in a field. She was emaciated but did her best to keep her pups alive. She came into our care ridden with fleas and ticks, barely able to stand. The rescue is unable to spay her until she has put on 10 pounds and her milk has dried up. The volunteers have watched her thrive with regular feedings and water, play with toys and our volunteers’ love. Our job as full-time rescue volunteers would be that much easier if Nutella had a temporary home and yard.

 

Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation, [email protected]

faded black kitty stands on a blue shelf near a blue cat bed by a window, with blinds. Books shelved in background.

Frankie is a dapper older gentleman who once was a community cat but has since become acclimated to the finer aspects of being a housecat. He’s a dignified fellow who would love a quiet home with few kitty companions to compete for the coveted sunny spot in the window. Frankie has a hyperactive thyroid, for which he gets medication daily, and has chronic kidney disease, which is being managed with special prescription food, which he may or may not eat, depending on his mood. Veterinary care, medications, and food will be provided by Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation. All you need to provide is the love and the sunny spot in the window. Email Jellicle Cats at the above address if you would be interested in opening your home to Frankie.

 

Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Hounds on the Hill: 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18, Signal Hill Dog Park, 3100 California Ave., Signal Hill, free.

The city of Signal Hill is holding its annual dog-friendly event for dogs and people! Enjoy music, treats (again, for dogs and people), entertainment and more. Stay longer in the park, and see the sun going down.

Timmons Subaru Grand Opening Event, featuring pet adoptions: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18 and Sunday, Sept. 19, Timmons Subaru, 3700 Cherry Ave., Long Beach.

Long Beach Animal Care Services will drive its own vehicle onto the Timmons lot for an in-person event! The Adoption Waggin’ is loaded—mainly with adorable, adoptable cats and dogs. Friends of Long Beach Animals will support the adoptions at the event.

13th annual Seal Beach Animal Care Center’s Pets Ahoy! wine fundraiser: noon–3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18 and Sunday, Sept. 19, Seal Beach Yacht Club, 255 N. Marina Dr., Seal Beach, $50.

Seal Beach Animal Care Services has planned lovely afternoons for animal and wine lovers alike, which will provide equally lovely benefits for the cats and dogs in their care. Sip Napa Valley wines and soft drinks as you graze the buffet lunch. Enjoy silent auctions and a Super Opportunity Drawing for a $1,000 Visa card! Space is limited, so register soon at this link! (CDC guidelines will be observed.)

Drags for Wags fundraiser: 4 p.m, Saturday, Sept. 25, Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach, $10 suggested door donation.

It’s back, finally! Hosted by Long Beach Imperial Court, the longest-running LGBTQ nonprofit in the area, and presented by Reign 48 Princess Dani Carter, this event features Long Beach’s glamorous Drag Queens, who’ll wag their tails across the dog walk and give dazzling performances for everyone! Enjoy raffles for great prizes; all funds will go to Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue. Get there early or make a reservation on the Yelp page—they sold out last time!

Free Pet Wellness day: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, Houghton Park, 1170 E. Harding St., Long Beach, make an appointment here or scan QR code on flyer.

Family wellness keeps the ball rolling, and since pets are family, the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach Animal Care Services have teamed up with rescues and organizations to provide families in need with vaccines, food and other good things for their furmates. Be sure to make an appointment.

Paint and Purrs fundraising event: 5:30–7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2, Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $45 per person, purchase tickets here.

Set free your inner Meowndrian at the Feline Good Social Club’s “Me and My Cat Over the Rainbow” social night! Participants will create a themed painting in the company of the best muses ever: the Club’s adoptable cats (refrain from using tails as paintbrushes). All funds from the event go toward maintaining the club and its residents so that they may continue to thrive and inspire. Face masks for humans are mandatory.

Haute Dogs Interfaith Blessing of the Animals: 5:45 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Granada Beach’s concrete boat ramp next to Rosie’s Dog Beach, 1 Granada Ave., Long Beach, free; parking is free after 6 p.m.

“It’s important to recognize and honor the great bond and relationship between pets and their people,” said Justin Rudd, founder of the Interfaith Blessing of the Animals. And so, humans and their families are invited to bring their furry, feathery, scaly, gilly and whatever they were born with to be blessed by any of a variety of interfaith ministers. Make sure that dogs and large lizards are leashed and that cats, rabbits, pocket pets, spiders and anything crawly are in some kind of secure carrier. If your pet has passed, is ill or prefers to stay home, bring a collar, a toy or a photo that represents them—they can participate in that way. Everything from hamster to horse has been blessed at this beautiful event—not that they need blessing, but it sure makes their humans feel blessed to know or have known them. More information available here.

Best Friends’ Strut Your Mutt fundraising event: details and events here

Ready to start building a team or just strut your stuff solo? Best Friends, a nationwide organization whose intent is to save every animal life possible, has started its registration for its Oct. 23 Strut Your Mutt Day virtual walk. The goal is to raise $2 million for both the organization and animal shelters and rescues nationwide. Access this link for instructions on how to build your team or register yourself, and participate in virtual events such as pig yoga and meeting the animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as you move along the time line. Mutts and all manner of mammals will thank you!

Calendars: 365 days of furry love

Helen Sanders CatPAWS Show Us Your Kitties 2022 calendar contest: entries accepted up to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18.

Calling all stage cat mommies and cat daddies! Now’s the chance for you to buy the way of your ridiculously adorable ridiculous feline into the spotlight! Helen Sanders CatPAWS cat rescue is again holding its annual photo contest in which you can enter your own cat and get your friends to donate funds to vote for a cover or month photo position on the calendar! It’s a lot less fattening than asking them to buy your kids’ fundraising chocolate, and the money taken in will pay more medical bills for cats, put together more DIY newborn-kitten-care kits, and fund all the good things CatPAWS does—the goal is $10,000, but they’ll settle for more. You can also reserve a special day for a kitty whose memory you want to honor. CatPAWS will attempt to place every photo received somewhere on the calendar. Grab all the details here!

2022 Seal Beach Animal Care Center Calendar Contest: entries and votes accepted through 11:59 p.m., Oct. 22, enter here

Only $5 needed to enter your cat or dog into SBACC’s contest! Votes start at $1 (5 vote minimum). You enter and vote for your best friend and then encourage your family and friends to cast votes for them. People can vote as many times as they want! Two separate calendars, one for the cats and one for the dogs, will feature your pets, and the top 13 dogs and top 13 cats (with the most votes) will be showcased in the calendars, with the first-place of each species as the cover guy or grrrrl. Thumbnail photos of all entrants will be featured in the calendars, even if the pets are not in the top 13!

Help wanted, help given

Volunteers of many stripes needed at Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Want to spend a few hours playing with cats? How about brightening the day of a bunch of senior citizens with kitten visits? Fostering cats because you aren’t sure you want to keep one but wish you could have one ever so briefly in your life (and yes, you could change your mind and keep them forever). Delivering pet food to needy shelters? Assembling do-it-yourself newborn-kitten-care kits, and maybe bottle-feeding a few? Kennel cleaning (whee!)? Lend a paw to CatPAWS—fill out the volunteer application at this link.

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving the older-adult population in and around Long Beach. Ida’s Walkers offers dog-walking services to low-to-moderate-income seniors who are hospitalized, have limited mobility, or are at risk of falling. If you want to help senior citizens keep their beloved pets as long as they are able to live at home, call 562-370-3548.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: selected days and times, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.

Fix Long Beach is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Vaccination clinics take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season is still in bloom, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save little lives, get them fixed, get them adopted. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. If you are interested in obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, please email [email protected].

Spay/neuter vouchers available at shelter

Long Beach Animal Care Services has spay/neuter vouchers available. They’ll take a healthy nip out of the cost of a procedure. Residents of any of the five cities served by the shelter—(see above)—can telephone the general number at 562-570–7387 to request a voucher.

 Spay/neuter appointments available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Pets of the Homeless’s home page gives a self-description as the only organization focusing only on providing food and care for pets belonging to homeless people. Businesses and other organizations across the country receive in-kind donations of food and other needs that the dogs and cats’ human families can pick up at outreach locations. The following businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach.

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St., Long Beach.

Food and supplies are available Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach; and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

In-furson events

 

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., second Saturday of each month, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; 10 a.m..–2 p.m., last Saturday of each month, VBurger, 420 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

 The shelter’s favorite glamping vehicle for cats and dogs has been making the scene twice a month. Adopt at the locations and find either everything you need for your pet or a fine vegan lunch.

 Helen Sanders Cat Paws pop-up events: 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; Petco Meet-and-Greet, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, both events Saturday, Sept. 18, adoption prices vary.

Cats can get the zoomies and appear to be at two places at once, and so can CatPAWS! This rescue has enough cats and kittens for everyone to take home, and both stores have the good for the good kitties! C’mon down, adopt, and then shop!

 Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sundays., Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

This adoption center is a much-needed satellite operation of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Julie and her team pull adoptable cats—”adoptable,” to these guys, means any cat in a shelter kennel! The team socializes the kitties until they’re adopted, which takes less time than you could imagine!

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption center: viewable daily during store hours, PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, adoption fees apply.

Window-shopping’s a neat pastime and likely has become more common during the pandemic. Helen Sanders CatPAWS has applied window-shopping to cat adoption; you can peer at several of the fine felines through the windows of the PetSmart adoption center in Seal Beach, and now, you can finally visit with them, scratch their little ears, and rub them under their chinny-chin-chins on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Volunteers will answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

 

two dogs and a cat on one border, two cats and two dogs on other. Caption says, "May we couch-surf at your place?"

May we couch-surf at your place?

Nota bon-e—fosters are needed everywhere!

If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, or if you’re past the pet-roommate days for any reason, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Every one of the organizations listed below is in desperate need of fosters who’ll social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing!

These nonprofits also regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Fosters are needed for kittens as well. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list.

 

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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.”
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