Home for the holidays: Keep your pets safe and close

Virtually pets

As you know, 2020 is doing holidays way different. During Halloween, kids had virtual costume contests, we gawped at the wacky decorations on houses from afar, and trick-or-treaters received their goodies via tossing, catapulting and other activities that could’ve put out an eye faster than a carelessly wielded plastic Mulan sword. Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, thanks to new guidelines, will also hopefully ring themselves in safely.

As far as holiday safety for pets, things will stay pretty much the same, with a couple of malamutations.

Even if it’s a day for sharing, don’t do it with the housepet

As usual, have caution about edibles and inedibles. If you see a quartet (or trio) of furry legs led by a wet nose foraying the dessert table like Carrot Top after a laugh, pick up either the plates or the pets and put them out of reach for the evening. Sweets, especially desserts that contain the synthetic sweetener xylitol, are toxic to cats and dogs. Foods that can poison an animal include grapes, raisins, nuts and chocolate, which is sinful to waste on the dog in the first place. The dog, not the cat, will likely be the one going for it. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, and a piece of it corresponding to the size of the dog will cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and death. So, no chocolate for Chester, but all the more for you.

Turkey is a temptation to both cats and dogs. A small, well-cooked sample won’t hurt them, but the skin is full of fat, as are the drippings. Pets can’t digest fat. Eating fatty food may cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas characterized by such symptoms as vomiting, diarrhea, hunching of the back and moping around. The disease is life threatening, and a visit to the vet will be necessary.

But it’s Thanksgiiiiiiviiiing, you might whinge, and I want my floof-baby to enjoy the celebration, too! Trust me, the dog never has any idea of what day it is, and the cat couldn’t care less. But if you insist on making your pet part of the celebration, PJ’s Pet Café on Redondo Avenue and Seventh Street and The Dog Bakery on Second Street and St. Joseph Avenue in Belmont Shore cook and bake dinners and snacks for dogs. They’re so tempting, in fact, that the dog will have to restrict your access to them. Deadline’s up for The Dog Bakery’s Barksgiving Dinner, but lots of other goodies are available. Every brand of cat food offers canned meals with turkey in them; Merrick even offers a Purrfect Bistro Thanksgiving Dinner. No guarantees that the cat will pounce on them, but if you have a dog, it’s guaranteed that they will.

People pumpkin pie is taboo, but pet blogger Kaity Cable wrote a delightful article singing the praises of pumpkin itself. In “Once Upon a Pumpkin,” Cable told of the health benefits of cooked—not raw—pumpkin, particularly as it helps digestion. She also gave some recipes for pumpkin dog treats, including a pumpkin pie, which can be modified for cats (leave out the peanut butter). Again, no guarantee that the cat will even taste it, and again, the dog will eat theirs and likely the cat’s, too.

Prevent dumpster diving and houseplant grazing

A brief segue to garbage: Trash must always be out of reach of pets, and holiday meals present extra perils. Turkey bones, even if cooked, can splinter and choke an animal or wreak havoc in the stomach. Bones must be kept out of reach and not given as treats. Food leftovers can cause illness as well, and heaven help the pet who devours the aluminum foil that kept the turkey basting or the strings that trussed it. Trash the trash as soon as dinner’s over, and put the leftovers away immediately.

Holiday plants, especially poinsettia, can be toxic as well. Cats like to chew on the leaves, so put them somewhere that can’t be accessed by a proficient leaper. The Pet Poison Helpline is a good resource for identifying stuff that animals consider edible that could hurt them.

In case there is an emergency, several 24-hour emergency vets and clinics that are open late are within driving distance of Long Beach. If it looks as if you can’t wait, hop into the car with the pet and call (hands free, of course) on the way:

Open 24 hours

Long Beach Animal Emergency:  4720 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, 562-735-5200.

 VCA Lakewood: 10701 South St., Cerritos.  562-926-3600.

 Open until 10:00 p.m.

Long Beach Animal Hospital: 3816 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, 562-434-9966.

 Primary Care, 2200 N. Lakewood Blvd., Long Beach, 562-274-7776.

Virtual gatherings are actual hoots with a pet in attendance

Unless you, like some people I know, usually spend Thanksgiving in front of the tube watching “The Twilight Zone” marathon and eating a thawed turkey dinner or a plant-based equivalent, you’ll be modifying family gatherings.

No indoor dinners with tons of people to step on tails or feed something to someone furry from the table (another pet-based no-no). But if you opt to have a social-distancing outdoor meal, weather and heaters permitting, keep the animals indoors with a toy and their own dinner. If you must have the dog outside—cats should be kept indoors, really—keep them securely tethered, keep the gate shut if you have one, and equip him or her with a collar and license tag plus an ID tag with the dog’s name and your phone number. There are too many distractions and unfamiliar people coming in and going out for you to be off your guard with a pet. If you opt for a Zoomsgiving, you can have a house full of cats and dogs—like some people I know—and they’ll all be able to come to the party and will have no problem insinuating their faces into the monitor.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word, I think “turkey.” Separate it into “thanks” and “giving,” and it’s more apropos. Thanks to you readers who love and care for your pets, and thanks so much to the community at large for being proactive, even when fury and tears accompany it. All the rescuing, healing, caring, understanding, donating, educating and everything else are astounding.

And by the way, if you have something you want to express gratitude for, Long Beach Post is as all ears as an English lop rabbit. We’re planning a special Thanksgiving audio project, a compilation of voices from our community sharing their gratitude. Please call or text the Gratitude Line at 562-471-5225, or send an email or voice note to [email protected]. Your message may be included in the podcast. Meals on Wheels is sponsoring this event.

Of course, adopting a formerly unwanted pet from a shelter or a rescue is a wonderful way to engender gratitude, and you’ll thank yourself for doing it. Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St. at the entrance to El Dorado Park, is starting to burst at the seams with big dogs. To adopt any of these lovable, hunky heroes, email [email protected]. Visit the website on the link to see more pets who would also be grateful for a home.

tan pit bull mix sits on grass with a kneeling man in a mask

Buddy (ID#A613162) is a 3-year-old male pit bull mix who’s filled with extra amounts of happy energy. He is definitely looking for a human soul mate that he can run, jump and play with. He knows his commands and is ready to take the next step with a trainer to learn more so he can be the best dog he can be.


Large black Labrador mix sits next to a kneeling man with a mask, in a grassy area

Luke (ID#A644406) is a 1-year-old male Labrador retriever mix. This handsome guy loves to play and needs to be with an owner who loves adventure. He’s a Lab, so naturally, he’ll want to be near or in the water to make the most of his time.


light-colored Siberian husky stands next to man in apron and mask, sitting on the grass

This gorgeous looking heartthrob is Lucian (ID#A522277). He’s an 11-year-old Siberian husky that is well mannered, easygoing and a delight to be around. We can’t get enough of his Bowie-esque eyes and stunning good looks!


tan pit bull sits next to a squatting man in black top, green apron and jeans, on grass

Mako (ID#A647697) is a 4-year-old male pit bull. This big boy is a lot of fun to be around and loves the company of humans. He has a lot of energy, so bring your muscles, as he is sure to give you a great workout!


Just fur fun

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, Home for the Holidays: Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m., 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, free, register here.

The holidays are here, and we’re all sequestered. What do we need to make the season bright? That’s right—cats! “Cat from Hell” and cat-behavior expert Jackson Galaxy, fresh from his virtual Cat Camp with nary scratch on him, will curl up with us under the tree, accompanied by Christina Ha, co-owner of NYC’s first Cat Café, Meow Parlour and president of its affiliated non-profit adoption group, Meow Parlour Cats. You’ll enjoy a virtual event guaranteed to make you roll over and claw the air with glee! Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw will join other guests for a trencher loaded with a feast consisting of creating holiday-themed cat toys and an outdoor winter shelter for community cats, a cat-themed ugly sweater contest and a fireside chat by a yule log. The free event is sponsored by the Petco Foundation.

Holiday Boutique, presented by Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue and Fix Long Beach: Sunday, Nov. 22, noon–5 p.m., 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, $20 donation.

Note: This event has been canceled because of the latest COVID-19 restrictions. To make a donation to make up for what you might have spent, visit this link. The rescue can use it.

Bulldog-themed safety-mask preorder: Southern California Bulldog Rescue, $11 each.

What better way to protect yourself and others from those coronavirus cooties than with a faithful bulldog guardian at the gate! They’re 2-ply non-medical grade protection that feel good and comfy. They’re also hand-washable. Best of all, these whimsical wearables support Southern California Bulldog Rescue! Order them here.

Help wanted, help given

2DIY 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.

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

Amazon presents Packed Weekend: Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, $10 adoption fees for qualified adopters.

Here’s a bonus for you if you’re seeking out a pet! Amazon is debuting its dog-and-owner-competition series, the streamable The Pack. In response, Amazon is sponsoring the Packed Weekend, and our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services is offering $10 adoption fees, subject to approval by shelter staff, to adopt the only thing that Amazon or anyone else cannot ship to you: adoptable pets! Watch this wonderful runway show of big doggies, which the shelter has quite a few of and whom you can see along with other shelter residents.

Video courtesy of Long Beach Animal Care Services.

Adoption appointments must be scheduled in advance at [email protected].

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Thanksgiving Adoption Waggin’: Saturday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees waived for qualified adopters.

As said in the main article, Thanksgiving is a time for thanks and giving. During this event Pet Supplies Plus is giving goodie bags to thank all qualified adopters who take home one of the furries from the Waggin’! For the health and safety of our community, masks are required.

 Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’: Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Salud Juice, 1944 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’ will roll by Salud Juice for a pet adoption event, with adoptable furry friends as passengers. This is a family-friendly event, and all are welcome. For the health and safety of our community, masks are required.

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.”