‘Dawgs of LBC’ is a love letter to Long Beach’s streets, beaches and dogs


Woman with long dark-blond hair and wearing a plaid shirt, tank top and jeans and holding a large camera smiles at her little dog, whom she holds.

Marissa de la Torre, shown with one of her muses at Rosie’s Dog Beach, is the author of “Dawgs of LBC,” her photojournalistic love letter to Long Beach and its dogs.

A man with impressive muscles and an intense stare, in tank top and ripped-knee jeans, rides a hoverboard down the bike path against a backdrop of sandy beach and a startlingly blue ocean. The man has presence, but follow the leash he’s holding down to the little dog determinedly chewing on the lead and it will be clear who the real subject of the photo is.

In “Dawgs of LBC,” a photojournalistic love letter to Long Beach streets, beaches and canines, dogs steal the show whether they’re the primary focus or part of the background. Photographer Marissa de la Torre, the book’s author, has snapped scores of canines in neighborhoods, in front of small businesses, at libraries, in parks and at beaches, and outside city limits in Wilmington, Lakewood and Signal Hill. Breeds and mutts alike are doing whatever dogs do, looking however they look with no opinion or judging by the photographer, and seemingly unconcerned about being photographic models. One dog matches the stalwart pose of the Lone Sailor statue in Bluff Park; another smiles on the couch inside the legendary V.I.P Records. Each one serves as a conduit for Long Beach’s soul.

white dog sits on old black-leather couch in front of a wall sign for V.I.P. World Famous records featuring the sign and a man in a T-shirt. A large boom box on top of a large speaker are next to the couch.

“What’s My Name?” is the sole indoor shot in “Dawgs of Long Beach Courtesy of Marissa de la Torre

“What I think of Long Beach, and what a lot of people think of Long Beach, is ‘quintessential beach town,’ but it was important to capture the urban aspect, too,” de la Torre said. “It was a catalyst for me to photograph the dogs and finish it by the end of the year. It’s kind of like a yearbook of LB 2022.”

De la Torre was brought up in the East Bay/Oakland area, with an amateur photographer for a father.

“I was an only child, I was his muse, and we bonded that way,” she said. “And we had pets around. From a young age, I gravitated toward dogs—and cats, but dogs were more integral to our family.”

In 2009, after studying broadcasting and music publishing at San Francisco State and pursuing street photography as a hobby, de la Torre migrated to Los Angeles. Attracted by an adoption event in a Petco parking lot, she asked one of the organizers if she’d like her to photograph the pets.

“That started my career in pet photography,” she said. “I’d go every Saturday. I started volunteering with shelters and rescues. Meanwhile, I was working in media tech and not too happy with what I was doing, so I started my own dog-walking and photography business in 2012. I did it for four years and also took photos of shelter pets.”

De la Torre expanded her lens range to humans, and then ended her dog-walking business in favor of “doing the freelance hustle photographing events, people, pets—animals, not just pets.” While in Los Angeles, she completed “Mammalz of DTLA,” an unromanticized collection of Los Angeles urban street lives of pets and people. When she moved to Long Beach in 2020, she began a similar project, “Dawgs of LBC,” to familiarize herself with the city and to meet people there.

Small, tan Chihuahua with underbite stands on hind legs with eyes shut in front of a colorful mural.

They do what they do. “Living It Up,” courtesy of Marissa de la Torre

The coronavirus made it difficult for de la Torre to meet people outside the house, and she didn’t know many of them, so she used social media to invite people and their dogs to free photoshoots. All dogs were welcome, mutt or breed, fixed or intact.

“I didn’t want to miss opportunities or make any judgments,” de la Torre said. “It made me more open-minded and able to represent what’s happening, showing where they’re at. And I met some really cool people!”

De la Torre scouted parts of the city and slightly beyond for interesting locations. During the sessions, even with all conditions right—sunlight, shadow, and backdrop—getting the canine subjects at the right angles was a pain in the hindquarters—she said that the dogs couldn’t have cared less about her. But the dogs’ personalities came through in all the shots she picked, and besides, who wants a perfectly postured pooch?

white dog looks longingly out the side window of a tan bungalow with succulents growingin front.

“Don’t Go” focuses on the Everydog who waits patiently for their human to come home. De la Torre said that she was lucky to get the shot, as the family moved away soon after. Courtesy of Marissa de La Torre.

De la Torre determined which photos should represent SoCal vibrant color and which called for monochrome, urban tones of sepia or black and white. She and  designer Pamela Steuri—“I couldn’t have had a creditable project without her management,” de la Torre said—finished by creating a strikingly representative portrait of Long Beach and its resident dogs, and by extension, its humans.

Black dog sits with open mouth, looking as if he's crying for something. A water dish stands next tohim. He's in front of a small shop.

Black and white says it better in “Belly of the Beast.” courtesy of Marissa de la Torre.

Circumstances recently took de la Torre, her boyfriend, and their two rescued Chihuahuas and one likewise saved cat to New Hampshire. She found work at a family-portrait business, but she hasn’t abandoned animals or volunteering. She cares for the horses at the New Hampshire SPCA, which has a considerable number of farm animals but only six dogs, eight cats, and a handful of various pocket pets and rabbits.

“That is a big takeaway for me,” she said. “[The shelters I knew] were packed—it’s a big deal, a big problem. It’s a community issue, it’s a government issue—it’s overpopulation with all these dogs not being fixed, backyard breeders.”

“Dawgs of LBC” presents the animals as they are, and readers might draw the similar conclusions. That’s what good art does.

The last page of “Dawgs of LBC” is dedicated to homeless animals, their rescue and adoption. Even with the overalls and boots she bought in New Hampshire to slop around the horse stables, de la Torre’s heart, soul and spirit will be forever urban and dedicated to the dawgs (and cats, too, of course) of LBC and DTLA.

Book titled "Dawgs of LBC," with a photo of the ocean and a parking lot next to it, with a red car and a dog hanging their head out the window.

Courtesy of Marissa de la Torre

If you want to adopt “Dawgs of LBC,” access de la Torres’ business web page. “Mammalz of DTLA” and samples of her photography of mammals of every number of legs are there, too.

Virtually pets

little white Chihuahua wearing a cap from a casino and a gold chain sits on grass in front of a pastel-rainbow wall licking his lips

Rock Steady Freddy’s tribute appears on the last page of “Dawgs of LBC. Courtesy of Marissa de la Torre

Freddy was a hospice foster from Live Love Animal Rescue in Long Beach, an organization that has appeared on these pages more than once, and for good reason. Freddy has since passed away; his foster, Lucy, is a good friend of de la Torre.

“I went over there for a couple of times and met him—I love seniors!” de la Torre said. “I met Emily [Peters, Live Love’s founder], too. I saw the cases they were pulling, and I was amazed.”

So am I. If you’re considering adopting a dog, look at the cases they’ve pulled—click the website link, the places they were, and hopefully, the places they’ll go. Can one of them be your home?

 All dogs have been spayed or neutered, vaxxed, vetted, microchipped and introduced to inter- and intraspecies love. To adopt any of them, fill out the adoption application on the website or email [email protected].

Chihuahua with one eye and wearing a double-strand pearl necklace with a bling heart charm looks to left.

Say hello to sweet Becky! This little 10-year-old senior gal is also known as Pirate B around these parts because she’s got just one eye. Rest assured that this doesn’t stop her from living life to the fullest—what she lacks in sight, she makes up for in zest for life, fun, and snuggles. She loves outings, sunbathing, and curling up on the couch for TV. She loves toys and tug-of-war—she’s meh about cats and can coexist, but she does prefer male dogs and friendly, considerate kids. Becky is a Forever Foster with our rescue because of a terminal diagnosis of lymphocytic leukemia, but she has no idea she’s sick. She’s on oral meds to keep her feeling her best, and she takes them with ease at mealtimes. Live Love is seeking a family that will welcome Becky into their home for however long she has left and give her all the fun experiences she deserves in her golden years! Forever Fostering is free—all medical care and supplies are provided by Live Love.

yellow Lab mix with one blue eye and one brown eye looks at camera with tongue lolling out. He stands on a gray rug in front of blond cabinetry and knick-knacks.

Blue is your boy—a gentle giant with a heart of gold! Blue, 9 years old, is so named for his odd eyes, one brown and one blue. Those eyes so soulful, his fur is soft, his personality is down-to-earth, and he’s loyal and intelligent. Blue is believed to be a Pyrenees/Labrador mix, but whatever’s in his DNA makes him win over everyone he meets. He gets along well with all people as well as dogs and cats. Blue knows his basic obedience commands: sit, lay, wait, shake and drop. He has excellent manners in the house. He can initially experience slight separation anxiety but settles in with ease once he learns your routine. His foster mom says he loves walks and joining you for a drive, especially if he can stick his head out the window. He’s a sensitive guy, and that is to be expected for such a soulful, intelligent dog!

gray pit/Frenchie mix with HUGE upright ears and blue eyes, wearing an orange harness, stands in front of some humans with mouth open, looking to right.

Who’s better to follow a dog named Blue than one called Velvet! Velvet is a 5-year-old American pit bull/Frenchie mix, and the poor girl spent almost a third of her life at the shelter—more than 500 days! The volunteers there worked beautifully with her, and finally, Live Love came to get her! Now, she can feel the grass through her toes as much as she wants instead of only on daily walks and the rest of the time inside a concrete kennel. After a car ride and a Puppacino treat. Velvet went to Humble K9, an organization that offers behavioral training, to “decompress” and learn new doggie skills in training camp. She made lots of friends, both canine and human, and learned that she really loves baths! She also likes petting and pampering. Her foster family found that she likes long walks, couch cuddling, kids and other pets. She’s housebroken as well. Come meet her!

tan pit bull/Lab mix lies on grass with one ball on a deflated yellow ball with black stripes.

A loyal, eager-to-please, handsome fellow, Wilson is a 5 1/2-year-old pittie mix looking for his forever home. He’s an affectionate, goofy guy who loves playtime, especially with his soccer balls, and enjoys chasing bugs and butterflies around the garden. He approves of all your petting and belly rubs—throw in a neck massage, and watch him melt! Wilson is a smarty pants and is eager to show you all he knows: commands, impeccable manners, ease on a leash good car behavior. He’s crate trained and potty trained, knows how to use a doggy door, and stays off furniture (unless invited up!). With a regimen in place and someone to look up to, this guy can do it all! He’ll wait for you patiently when you are away from home (or even just in the bathroom) and will give you the best greeting when you get back, showing off his “happy feet dance.” He does well with slow introductions but, once he warms up, he is a happy go lucky type of guy! He’s done well with kids, adults and other medium/large dogs. He would do best in a home without cats or even as an only dog.

Coupon for a pet adoption, with silhouettes of a dog, a cat and a rabbit, offering to pay adoption fee

Remember: pets aren’t presents. Use this coupon to pay for an animal’s adoption fee when a loved one who wants a pet chooses one. Art by Michelle Manion

A helping paw

Food and snacks that are dangerous for your dog and may cause intoxication.

Set of house plants poisonous to cats on white background

Just as with Thanksgiving, the winter holiday season is full of temptations for humans great and small and their pets. Unless you’ve foolishly giftwrapped a catnip toy and left it under the tree, the temptations go beyond trying to reach the top shelf in the closet to see if there’s a Flying Boomerang toy in a shopping bag. Certain food and plants—the cat chart left out mistletoe, which can be the kiss of death to pets—are toxic to cats and dogs. The tinsel on the tree and the ribbon on the packages can wreak havoc on the intestines if ingested, and If you spike the eggnog, keep it out of leaping or pawing reach. Please keep your best buddies safe this holiday. As with any medical emergency, get in touch with your vet or an emergency clinic if your pet eats something they shouldn’t.

This map determines eligibility for pet-license-amnesty program.

Pet License Amnesty extended to Dec. 31

 The city of Long Beach has extended the fee and penalty waivers for pet licenses to Dec. 31. Anyone living in the highlighted Community Development Block grant neighborhoods, as shown on the above map, may request a waiver by phone at 562-570-7387, by applying by mail at 7700 E. Spring St., or in person at the shelter. The waiver program is not available online. Visit this link and access the drop-down menu with the title “Do I Qualify for A Free New Pet License?” for details. Call 562-570-7387 for additional information.

Foster for a while—or furever!

Courtesy of Long Beach Animal Care Services

The more than 200 LBACS dogs, cats and bunnies need your help. The city of Long Beach’s commitment to Compassion Saves means that animals in our care can live and thrive. We need our community to show its support of Compassion Saves by fostering, adopting, volunteering, and donating. The graphic shows a map of the shelter’s dog cottages. The darker the blue, the more dogs in the kennel. LBACS has reached urgent capacity with the influx of incoming animals to the shelter during the holidays. There is no more kennel space to take in more dogs at the shelter. To maintain the LBACS Compassion Saves model of helping those in greatest need—the sick, injured and abused—your help is needed to keep the healthy and lost pets out of the shelter. If you are interested in adopting, please email [email protected] or apply to foster here.

Long Beach Animal Care Services has expanded adoption hours as follows: Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests are welcome to browse until closing. To speed up any adoption process, email [email protected]. To foster, email [email protected].

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. 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. Keep in mind that the rescues are self-supporting and need donations and volunteer help. Most of them cannot accept found or unwanted pets. Contact Long Beach Animal Care Services for options.

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