February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, and I’m writing another column asking people to spay and neuter their pets and encourage everyone to do it. I do that every month and just about every week, in fact. Most of you know why it’s necessary and probably have done it already or plan to.

But some people either don’t, can’t, or won’t, and meanwhile, our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services and a lot of them across the country are nose to tail with cats, dogs and rabbits, and staff and volunteers are scrambling to find fosters, adopters and places to put them. At LBACS, dogs are residing in offices waiting for kennel space, and just wait until kitten season is in full bloom. Unaltered animals birthing unwanted pets in homes, backyards and streets isn’t the only reason for the crisis, but it sure exacerbates it.

Every month should be Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Every day should be Spay/Neuter Awareness Day. Monthly themes, though, focus on an interest or an issue, give it perspective, and offer suggestions and resources for making it better. In this case, it’s ways to help people who do want to fix their pets but can’t afford to and for the TNR (trap/neuter [and spay]/return) volunteers who dig into their own pockets to fix the cats they trap so that they won’t breed more unwanted cats.

Best Friends Animal Society’s mission is saving and improving the life of every pet they can and motivating people to be part of the effort. Spay/neuter is one component of their purpose.

“Spaying and neutering dogs and cats provides pets and their families, as well as communities, with many benefits,” Best Friends’ CEO Julie Castle said in her email request. “These routine procedures may prevent medical and behavioral problems from developing, allowing pets to lead a longer, healthier and happier life.”

Spay/neuter, Castle said, reduces the risk of testicular, ovarian and breast cancer; stops your pet from yowling, marking territory and escaping during mating season; reduces problem behavior such as biting; and helps the pet chill out. It certainly gives them less to think about. To these, you could add that it might decrease theft of “purebred” dogs (can we say Frenchies?) for the purpose of breeding and making a profit off the pups. Spay/neuter does not make the animal sedentary or lazy—I can testify every time my 10-year-old neutered cat charges off with my exercise tube band.

And of course, fixing your pet decreases the number of unwanted litters that later stuff shelters.

It’s a community problem, and it needs a community solution

People who can’t afford to fix their animals have some options, and the community needs to be engaged to help them discover them, said Kristin Barney, Best Friends’ senior director of lifesaving programs. LBACS, for instance, offers vouchers worth $100 for specified clinics. They can be used by pet owners and TNR trappers. However, with the rising cost of veterinary procedures, there are still people who cannot afford the copay. This can be made worse when people don’t have transportation to the clinics, Barney said.

“Some of that can be dealt with by looking around for other organizations to help,” she said.

Hopefully, this article will help as well. Low-cost clinics lower veterinary costs even further, and organizations such as the Peter Zippi Memorial Fund offer financial assistance. Barney offered a link to Best Friends’ community dashboard where you can click on your state and then scroll to “Find a Best Friends Network Partner Near You,” enter your town, and check the list of organizations. At the end of this article is a group of links to low-cost clinics and resource lists compiled by Long Beach rescues.

Luckily, we have these resources, and sadly, we don’t have enough of them or sufficient ways to make people aware of them. We need more free or low-cost clinics, vehicles that can roll into areas of need and provide veterinary services at low cost, education for people living with pets, and, of course, funding. And people with vision and a volunteer posse. Hopefully, this article will help.

Barney stresses community involvement, but even the most personable, persuasive animal advocate can hit a wall with people who absolutely will not fix their pets. Long Beach has had a mandatory spay/neuter law since 2015, but it’s a virtual impossibility to enforce the law 100% when you consider the reluctance of neighbors to report backyard breeders and unaltered pets. Barney added that, in most cases, punishment would be effective or even humane to either the owner or the animal. LBACS manager Staycee Dains agrees.

“Enforcement is difficult, especially when enforcement results in separating a pet from their family because someone is too poor to follow the law,” Dains said. “It is a challenge for sure. LBACS works on finding ways to support people to come into compliance.”

Backyard breeding is different, Dains said, because the individuals usually breed dogs for economic benefit.

“We rarely receive credible reports in Long Beach,” she said.

A few years ago, I published a Long Beach Post article titled “Pets can be fixed, but some things you just can’t.” It was a collection of reasons, if you can call them reasons, that animal-community people heard from the ones who wouldn’t fix their pets. They were frustrating to all of us, and I have no ideas about solutions. Neither does Barney, but she’s philosophical about it.

“We need community all in on this, but it doesn’t always happen,” she said. “I don’t know that we can give the solution for those who will not. We can share the benefits and reasons for why it’s good to have your pets altered, but I would appeal to those folks who are willing.”

Meanwhile, Barney said, encourage people to spay and neuter their pets and have them consider adopting, fostering and volunteering.

“It’s a community problem that requires a community solution,” she said.

Access the following links for low-cost spay/neuter for pets and TNR volunteers, financial help and medical assistance. Please list any other local assistance you’re aware of in the social-media comments spaces or email to [email protected].

Friends of Long Beach Animals

Best Friends Community Dashboard

Long Beach Animal Care Services

Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation

Live Love Animal Rescue

SNC low-cost spay/neuter clinic

CAMP LA Community Animal Medicine Project

Virtually pets

These pets have already been spayed or neutered and are waiting to go home from Long Beach Animal Care Services.To adopt a shelter pet, email [email protected] to speed the process. The shelter also needs people to foster pets to free up space—email [email protected] to find out how to be a foster.

Fluffy white cat with tabby patches near his ears and one on his leg sits with head cocked to the left.
“Maru” has a couple of meanings in different parts of the world, but probably it’s what Maru answered when the volunteers asked him what his name was. Maru is a handsome 2 ½-year-old cat who came in as a stray. He was happy at first, and then got kennel stress, getting less and less friendly and not enjoying human company. He’s now in a larger kennel and allowing more human interaction. Maru’s been here since July, and he says that’s long enough. Can someone come and take this sweetie home?
Fluffy brown tabby with bluffy tail stares solemnly into camera.
Yep, she’s a fine girl. What a good housecat she would be. Brandy came to our shelter when her human died, and she was sad and shy. She’s since become friendly and loves attention and petting. She’s a beautiful brown tabby, as you can see, with possibly some Maine coon cat in her. She’s only 4 and would love to spend her life in a good home with a caring human.
Tan pit bull with white chest and blue collar sits up smiling, with a Love sign behind him.
Preston (ID#A686171) has been waiting to go home since October! Preston’s a tall, slender 2-year-old pittie who loves to have fun and then chill, preferably with you on the couch watching Netflix. He’s smart as anything, knows a lot of tricks, and sure loves his meals! The way to Preston’s heart may be through his stomach, but cuddles and “good boy!” go a longer way with him!

Spencer! ID#A684516)! He’s been waiting too long, and we can’t figure out why.

 Great furballs of fun!

Inaugural Bob Long Memorial 5K and 1K Mutt Run and adoption event: Saturday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.–2 p.m., Claremont Launch Ramp near Rosie’s Dog Beach, 5300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, $55 and $20 registration fee

Signal Hill Rotary Club sponsors a great way to exercise both you and your dog and raise some money for our shelter and for special projects in Signal Hill. Bring your dog—any breed or mix—to run or walk at your own pace. You can run without your dog, but they’re welcome to spectate with a responsible human. Enter a Valentine’s Day-theme costume contest with your furry sweetie-pie! Best of all, Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’ will roll up to the finish line. Even more best of all, 70% of the profits will go to our shelter, with 30% going to the Rotary Club’s Community Project Fund! Talk about a sweetheart deal! 5K begins at 9 a.m.; 1K starts at 9:30 a.m. Dogs must be leashed and stay on the pedestrian path at all times. Training guides for 5K are available here, useful guidelines for walking can be found at Run That Mutt. Visit the Rotary Club’s Bob Long Memorial Run page for more information.

Talia Fillippelli plays with two dogs during the the introductions at the 16th annual National Bulldog Beauty Contest at Marine Stadium Park in Long Beach on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Photo by Bill Alkofer.

18th annual Bulldog Beauty Contest: Sunday, Feb. 19, 9 a.m.–noon, Granada Boat Launch next to Rosie’s Dog Beach, 1 Granada Ave. at Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, $10 preregistration, $20 cash at event (no cards), $5 front-row seats

“Bulldog” just scratches the surface of this venerable contest, but in honor of organizer Justin Rudd’s favorite kind of doggie, that’s what it’s called! Enter your doggie of whatever breed or mix thereof and leash it down to the beach for a bully ball! Beginning at 9 a.m., 12 contests will honor humans’ best friend, including the National English Bulldog Beauty Contest, Best Senior, Best Siblings, Best Adopted and finally Best in Show! Preregister here and find out the rest of the story on the Haute Dogs page; vendors can register at the bottom of the page. Grand prizes from Redbarn Premium Pet Products and other prizes from Farm to Pet will be awarded. Volunteers, please contact [email protected].

Fundraiser/adoption event for Live Love Animal Rescue: Saturday, March 4, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Lather, 6440 Pacific Coast Highway, # 160, Long Beach, prices vary

Beauty may be skin deep, but we’re only human. Our pets are beautiful from fur to skin to heart and soul. This fundraiser, though, will help your outer layer be beautiful and also do something beautiful for the dogs at Live Love! Check out Lather’s line of cruelty-free bath, body and beauty products, and enjoy free gifts with your purchase, refreshments and raffles! And doggies, of course! Lather will donate 20% of all purchases during the event to benefit Live Love.

CatPAWS 10th annual Bowling Fundraiser: Saturday, March 18, 2 p.m.–5:30 p.m., Westminster Lanes, 6471 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, $45 per bowler, $20 to sit on the sidelines and cheer

Join up with Team Kitty and rack up a few winners for the cats and kittens at Helen Sanders CatPAWS! Bowl for two hours, or pay the lesser amount and just watch the pins fall like a veritable feline. Chow down on hearty appetizers or a personal pizza, with soft drink included. All tickets Include an opportunity drawing, and prizes will be awarded for highest and lowest scores. Buy tickets here. All proceeds benefit CatPAWS and our life saving work.

St. Cat-tricks Day Fundraiser: Saturday, March 18, 5–7 p.m., Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., $35

Feline Good Social Club has some very special kitties who love to pawty and are looking forward to celebrating a lucky day! Buy tickets right here, and come hang out with over 30 kitties and the special Improv troupe Held2Gether, who will be providing a 45-minute fun set to delight and entertain you! We will provide one complimentary Things for Your Head seltzer with the purrchase of each ticket, and everyone who wears their St. Patty’s Day green will be entered into a raffle drawing for FGSC merch.

A helping paw

Dog Obedience Classes: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays until further notice, noon–1 p.m., Lincoln Park Dog Park, Downtown Long Beach at 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, sessions are free

Is Sadie acting shady? Does Belle like to yell? If your dog needs to know good behavior, it’s time to bring them to school! Instructor Charlie DiBono of Body and Mind K9 makes no bones about good dog behavior being more than sitting up and looking cute. The classes are free to attend and are available on a first-come, first served basis. Space is limited, so roll over and get out the door!

Foster for a while—or furever!

LIttle calico-patch cat with closed eyes stands on blue towel.
Prada was born without eyes. Helen Sanders CatPAWS sees all cats as perfect, though, and pulled her from the shelter. She’s ready to be adopted.

PetSmart Charities National Adoption Week: —March 6–12, PetSmart locations everywhere, adoption fees apply

Each year, more than 5 million pets enter animal shelters in need of loving homes. Today, pets are staying in shelters longer, and many local shelters are struggling with stretched budgets and limited staffing, our own Long Beach Animal Care Services included. In partnership with PetSmart Charities, Helen Sanders CatPAWS will bring adoptable pets to the Seal Beach PetSmart location, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., in in support of National Adoption Week. During the in-store event, Helen Sanders CatPAWS invites pet lovers to make room in their homes for pets in need. PetSmart Charities also encourages people to consider adopting pets with special needs, like sweet Prada, seen in the photo, who was born without eyes. She was rescued as a tiny, sick kitten from a public shelter. To view all available pets for adoption, please visit the CatPAWS adoption page.

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’ will roll in, and the volunteers will show you all the wonderful animals aboard.

The more than 300 LBACS dogs, cats and bunnies need your help, as The Scratching Post stresses. 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.

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.

Ally’s Animal Network

Bunny Bunch

Cat Cove

Friends of Long Beach Animals

Fix Long Beach

Feline Good Social Club

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County

Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Ho’ola Dog Rescue

House of Broken Cookies

Jellicle Cats Foundation

K-9 Kismet

Little Lion Foundation

Live Love Animal Rescue

Long Beach Animal Care Services

Long Beach Spay and Neuter Foundation

Newborn Feline Rescue

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center

Pug Rescue of Korea

SAFE Rescue Team

Seal Beach Animal Care Center

Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue


Stray Cat Alliance

Wrigley Kittens

Zazzy Cats