Come to the bark side: Wagoween presents a social-distance event—for humans, anyway

Virtually pets

COVID-19 has all but driven a stake through the heart of Halloween this year. Los Angeles County is strongly discouraging trick-or-treating, and many local businesses, Second Street’s included, have canceled the popular tradition of safely handing out treats. No new scary films in the theaters, no haunted houses or escape houses (darn it) to scare the daylights out of us. And dognabbit, no eagerly awaited Dog Howl’oween Parade and adoption event from Justin Rudd and his Community Action Team.

But Halloween hasn’t quite given up the ghost. Human ingenuity will out, especially where fun and kids are involved. Any species that can run a gamut between the now-banal concepts of Zoom costume parties and the invention of the “candy chute” that some absolute genius developed for socially distancing yourself and trick-or-treaters can certainly do the same for our pets’ Halloween, which we know they all await eagerly. The cat can’t wait for someone to throw a Stegosaurus costume over him.

It might be fun to use the candy chute to shoot out a goodie and watch your pet get some workout time before they gobble the treat and screw it up. But animals need socializing—dogs do, anyway—and not social distancing, and nonprofit rescue Sparky and the Gang volunteers will have the former for your dog and the latter for you at Wagoween on Saturday.

Sparky and the Gang is known for wild, crazy and often booze-fueled ways for guests to donate money to buy food and meds for their adoptable rescues. Wagoween, though, is way calmer. No party this time—instead, it features an animal blessing (the humans need it more than the pets, but it probably transfers over to you), a pet spiritualist to tell you exactly what you’re doing that your dog wants you to stop doing, and vegan hot dogs hamburgers and sliders from Ozo Plant-Based Protein for you. Silent auctions promise wonderful (and tasty) winnings. Your furbabies will be the ones having the party in a special play area, where they can romp with new bowser buddies (please—nonaggressive playmates only!). And dogs will even have trick-or-treat: a gift toy and choice of costume (which, let’s face it, is really for your enjoyment, but so what?).

little, fluffy, white dog sits with a bewildered look on her face. She's wearning a knit hat with teddy-bear ears.

An adoption candidate from a previous Sparky and the Gang Halloween event seems bewildered at the type of animal he’s dressed as.

Wagoween will take place in the backlot of Sparky and the Gang’s new digs at 1749 Magnolia Ave. Bring your doggie, park on the street, and pay a $20 donation, all of which goes to the rescue’s upkeep costs, including re-fur-bishing the building’s floors, kennels, clinic room, lighting and everything else. Masks are required—if you’re wearing a Halloween mask, it must be made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face. The safest and most creative route is to apply makeup to the top half of your face and decorate a plain ordinary face mask for the bottom. Or be a renegade—find a face mask with nose and whiskers and wear cat ears.

The organizers are implementing social-distancing regulations by placing tables at distances of six feet and limiting the number of guests and time spent at the event.

Oh, yes—there are treats for the adoptable dogs who’ll be there—you! They’re all spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to party for the rest of their lives in a loving home. Here are a few of them—Melinda, a pittie mix who was left in a shopping cart; a tan girl named Mama Dog, who had seven puppies who are almost ready for adoption themselves; and a big puggle named Lucas.


Just fur fun and fur-thering education


woman with long blond hair and wearing sunglasses and green T-shirt and jeans releases tortoiseshell cat from a trap. The cat wastes no time running.

Volunteer from a shelter return-to-field program releases recently spayed cat. The cat had no time for farewell. Find out about this program in a Zoom presentation on Tuesday. Courtesy photo


Wag-o-Ween: Saturday, Oct. 10, 3–5 p.m., Sparky and the Gang’s backyard, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, $20 donation

What a great time to scary up your face mask and scare up a costume for your doggie! Or pick one up at Sparky and the Gang’s fundraising event. The $20 donation gets you a Halloween costume for your pooch, a toy, and a vegan hot dog or hamburger for you. A pet spiritualist will let you know what your dog actually wants out of you, and an ordained minister will be there to bless your pets—not that they need it. The event also will feature a silent auction, raffles and a play area for your dog’s own Halloween social. Organizers will enforce social distancing, and humans must wear masks that cover their noses and mouths.

Return-to-Field cat-trapping program Zoom discussion: Tuesday, Oct. 13, 6–7:30 p.m., presented by Stray Cat Alliance in partnership with Long Beach Animal Care Services, free event RSVP here.

Kate Hurley, DVM, is among other things, the cofounder of the shelter lifesaving program Million Cat Challenge, a veterinary-medicine textbook author and the director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Hurley has more accomplishments than the lives that cats are mistakenly rumored to have. She devotes her own life to every one of the individual, furry little lives that would otherwise be euthanized in shelters or die in the wild. Readers might be familiar with trap-neuter-return, the community-based practice of reducing a community’s stray and feral cat populations, keeping the cats healthy, and sometimes getting the kittens adopted. TNR has a close relative called return-to-field (RTF), which addresses the welfare of cats that are already in shelters. This Tuesday, Hurley will host a virtual discussion about RTF and how it benefits confined cats, the shelter system and the communities and will describe the legal obstacles and bottlenecks that come from officials and opponents of the program. Registration is free; access the link in the heading.

Best Friends Strut Your Mutt Day: Saturday, Oct. 24, register or donate here

The annual Strut Your Mutt dog walk, which has raised thousands of dollars for lifesaving projects, is going virtual like everything else. Best Friends has teamed up with local rescue groups, shelters, animal-welfare organizations and pet-community members for a virtual community walk and fundraiser to benefit homeless dogs and cats across the country. During this period of relative isolation, raising funds is more important than ever, so join up and participate in engaging opportunities to help throughout the season and build a virtual no-kill community. All funds raised go directly to lifesaving programs such as spay neuter services and adoption—and it’s all off leash!

Help wanted, help given

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

Kitten season is just about up, but kittens still enter shelters. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. 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 can telephone the general number at 562-570–7387 to request a voucher.

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

Calendars—save the date, and save some pets!

Seal Beach Animal Care Center’s cat and dog 2021 calendar contests: through Sunday, Oct. 18, register here.

You still have time to inscribe your dog or cat in the annals of an annual calendar and support a local rescue/shelter at the same time. Seal Beach Animal Care Center, a nonprofit all-volunteer animal shelter that keeps its pets safe until a forever home is found, is sponsoring two calendars, one for doggies and the other for kitties. Rules for the calendars can be accessed on the above link. Enter and vote for your best buddies ($1 per vote, $5 minimum).

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag:

Helen Sanders CatPAWS offers, through specific private donors, e-gift cards for people struggling during the crisis to buy food for their pets. The CatPAWS Spay/Neuter Fund, also privately funded, has vouchers available for anyone not able to go to the shelter for them. They also accept donations.

Pets of the Homeless’ 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 Long Beach 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 at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.; and at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

four photos of people with dogs in outdoor settings.

Dedicated volunteers contribute over 20,000 hours per year to ensure the animals are socialized, loved, walked, and comfortable until adopted. We have suspended the volunteer orientation sessions due to COVID, but here is a photo of a pre-pandemic group!–caption

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption center: Daily, store hours, PetSmart, 2341 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. Sadly, no ear scratching or chin rubs at this time, but volunteers can answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

NOTE: THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED FOR OCTOBER BUT WILL RETURN IN NOVEMBER: Long Beach Animal Care Services monthly adoptions: Every second Saturday of each month, store hours, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Long Beach Animal Care Services shows up with its fabulous Adoption Waggin’ equipped with air conditioning, running water and comfy kennels with cats, dogs and bunnies waiting to go home. Masks and social distancing required for visitors.

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions, but as of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. 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.”