Clear the Shelters’ 2020 adoption effort embraces social distancing, up until you ultimately embrace your new buddy!

Virtually pets
Clear the Shelters ad, with an orange cat and a brown terrier mix lying side by side

Courtesy of Clear the Shelters

For five years, Clear the Shelters was a robust nationwide event that took place during a given Saturday in August. The event, sponsored by NBC/Telemundo, featured the public descending on shelters, reduced adoption fees and rollicking TV footage of all the adopted cats, dogs and rabbits. In a single day, adoptions in many shelters would surpass those of nearly every other month.

This year’s event is like the scene in “Yellow Submarine” after the Blue Meanies took over Pepperland. No more rushing back and forth from kennel to application table, no huzzahs of joy from shelter staff and volunteers when a bunch of waggy, fluffy little barkers were passed over for a 12-year-old shepherd mix, no whines of disappointment from a family when someone else adopted the cat they’d come for and they had to settle for second best, only to find that when they held the purring runner-up that maybe fate had actually smiled on everyone.

This year’s Clear the Shelters will run virtually, like most other worthwhile pastimes involving human contact. The event’s organizers have taken into consideration the limitations of online adoption and are making a major effort to make it work. Nationwide affiliated TV stations are promoting the participating shelters and their pets during the entire month of August, and their Adopt & Donate program includes interactive tools to showcase the animals and support the shelters that care for them. Unlike previous years, Clear the Shelters won’t require shelters to lower or do away with adoption fees because of the challenges, especially financial, that the pandemic has presented them.

“SpcaLA will miss the traditional Clear The Shelters event—it’s always a fun and exciting day,” said Ana Bustilloz, spcaLA’s director of communications and marketing.

SpcaLA is one of the participating local shelters; nearby shelters can be accessed on Clear the Shelters’ interactive map. Each shelter will have its own process for meet-and-greet and adoption.

Besides the adoption tools, the organization’s home page features a comprehensive selection of articles about adoption and pet care, including pandemic-related aspects.

Of course, nothing beats meeting a pet in furson, but when you consider that the networks could have done nothing this year and decided to see what next year brings, 2020’s Clear the Shelters is an impressive effort. I hope it works at least as well as the grassroots effort to empty our own shelter did a few months ago.

The Scratching Post will help clear the shelters and rescues this month and always. Check out the adoption links on spcaLA and at the shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services—two separate entities under the same roof, both with animals equally in need of forever homes. Here are a few samples from the shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services—cats again! Remember: kitten season—don’t overlook the adult cats…

To set up an appointment to meet any of them, email [email protected].

Tortoiseshell cat with pink collar stares into camera

Gale (ID#644252 is a 6-year-old tortie who came in as a shy stray. She’s now coming out of her tortoise shell—she loves to be pet and is very affectionate. This beauty has killer looks and is sure to light up your life.


orange cat face with golden eyes and widely set ears, and milk muzzle looks into camera.

Simba (ID#A646042) is quite the king of cats! This 2-year-old may be the strong and silent type, but don’t let him fool you! He actually adores company, and his leonine purr will win you over!


head and shoulders of brown tabby looking to the left

Bubbles (ID#A643181) is a 2-year-old female gray tabby in desperate need of a low-stress home. She has a quiet demeanor, but once she gets to know you, she’s very loving and kind.


face of black cat with bright-yellow eyes and wearing blue collar stares into calendar

Shelter staff named this 3-year-old fellow Meowtastic (ID#A646002) because, you know, he is. This sleek hunk of a guy with bright-yellow eyes is quite the catch. He’s adventurous, loves to play and insists on being your number-one.

Pet projects
a pile of pet food and pet accessories

Photo courtesy of Friends of Long Beach Animals.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag:

West Coast Toyota of Long Beach bought $3,000 worth of pet food last month to deliver to people in need in our community. If anyone you know is in this position, take a photo of the food you give to your pet, and include your name, contact information and a brief description of your work situation to [email protected]. Fix’n Fidos will deliver the food to you or arrange for you to pick it up.

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.

Mainly fur fun

Benny’s 3rd birthday celebration and fundraiser: Monday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m. Register online here.

Last year, The Scratching Post published a story about Benny, a little cat who, at a year old, had apparently been through some awful abuse and yet kept his sweet disposition. Benny was brought to Long Beach Animal Care Services in 2018 with a shattered jaw and other trauma-related injuries. Long Beach resident Beverly Leifer’s heart went out to him when she saw him, and it wasn’t long after that her arms also reached out and brought him home, forever. Last year, Benny and Bev both vowed to give back to the community and had a birthday bash like no other to raise money for the shelter and to Helen Sanders CatPAWS, the feline rescue that paid for Benny’s surgeries. This year, undaunted, the two have planned a virtual celebration that’ll be virtually awesome. This year, funds will go to CatPAWS again and also to WISEPlace, an Orange County center that empowers homeless and abused women. Benny hopes to help victims of abuse across species lines. More details are available here.

Helen Sanders CatPAWS Show Us Your Kitties 2020 calendar contest: through Sunday, Sept. 20, register here

Sick and tired of 2020 already? Let’s build a new year and help cats at the same time. Helen Sanders CatPAWS Show Us Your Kitties calendar contest is back, and it’s time to submit your photos! This year the rescue’s goal is to reach $10,000 so they can continue the lifesaving work to make sure every cat gets the best life (and home) possible. The rescue will try its best to place every photo they receive somewhere in the calendar, even if not in the top 13. Because times are tough and CatPAWS wants to encourage people to share their beloved kitty photos, they have waived the usual entry fee this year! You can reserve a day for your cat for $10—a birthday, a memorial, St. Gertrude’s Day… Read the full rules here.

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

It’s kitten season—the time of year when cats give birth. It starts in the spring—sometimes before, depending on the weather, peaks in midsummer, and ends in autumn. It occurs because so many cats are not spayed or neutered, and soon, kittens flood our shelter. 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].

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.

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.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

spcaLA Cat and Kitten adoptions: Through Sept. 30, shelter hours at all spcaLA locations, $20 adoption fee for all felines

Help the community raise kittens born during kitten season and shine a spotlight on the adult cats passed over for their younger counterparts. Because of closures to the public, spcaLA will conduct all adoptions virtually, so check out these pointy-eared cuties here and complete an application on any of the adoptables’ pages. An spcaLA adoption counselor will contact you to complete the adoption. (This adoption special is for qualified adopters; exclusions may apply.)

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption center: Daily, store hours, Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long 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.

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.”