Shake a paw in person with Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue’s funny fellas and girls

Virtually pets

“More dogs!” barked Long Beach Post veteran editor, writer and ailurophobe Tim Grobaty after he edited last week’s feline-focused Scratching Post. The columns have featured cats and kittens for the past couple of months because they’re in season like blueberries and about as plentiful, and they need homes. However, I’m delighted to give canines a break.

This Sunday, I went to see Sherri Stankewitz, the naughty-girl founder of the nonprofit dog rescue Sparky and the Gang. Sherri and her friend and volunteer Dana Hoff were hanging in the play yard of her kennel facility where a bunch of puppies were enjoying a frolic before they went back inside to the air conditioning. The puppies were yipping and yapping and having a wonderful time.

“Hey, don’t be nasty!” Sherri yapped back at them.

Sherri had spent a grueling, hot 15 hours the previous day at the facility, and Sunday promised to be at least that exhausting. She works at rescue constantly, with the idea of doggie welfare always in her heart, soul and mind. Once, she took what was supposed to be an island vacation and wound up at a tropical animal rescue bearing a suitcase full of flea meds and other donated supplies. During Canyon Fire 2 in 2017, she loaded herself and a few friends into a truck and dashed down to the fairgrounds in Orange County, where they helped tag and calm horses saved from the fire. She hosts and co-hosts the best parties—drag queen festivals, Roaring Twenties speakeasies—which are really fund-raisers. Money raised there is integral in transforming suffering, ragged creatures from the worst conditions you can imagine into happy, healthy housedogs.

blonde lady wearing white mask and black tank top caresses a German-shepherd-mix dog as a friend, seen only as a torso and legs, sits and watches

El Guapo is one of the lucky dogs that Sparky and the Gang pulled from Long Beach Animal Care Services. “The story is that he was hit by a car and the family couldn’t afford the surgery,” Sherri said. The rescue covered the surgery and the water-therapy sessions that followed. Too late for adoption—El Guapo’s foster fell permanently in love and will keep him forever. Photo by Kate Karp


It was Sparky and the Gang, in fact, from where Tim adopted the adorable Jasper and Annie lo these many years.

“A hundred dollars worth of toys, and they went with a branch.” Seriously, Tim, you’re dissing cats? Video courtesy of the Grobaty family.

Sherri’s been working at the same frenetic pace for 25 years. As with many rescuers, she started out by herself, scooping up unfortunate canines from the street like a fairy dogmother.

“I wasn’t a nonprofit—nothing like that,” Sherri said. “I was working Downtown as a fashion designer, and I kept picking up dogs. I had my own dog, Sparky, and he was really friendly, so we’d keep the dogs around.”

Pretty soon, Sherri had a full-fledged rescue. She named it Sparky and the Gang, and soon developed it into a nonprofit that has rescued and re-homed countless dogs.

““Being a friend of Sherri’s, you get bombarded with emails about dogs in trouble. If the dogs seem like good candidates, I forward them to Sherri,” Dana said. “She always gets the ones that are near death, have mange, are malnourished, or pregnant. And there are so many stories of amazing recoveries. Sherri knows her stuff.”

Sherri knows a lot of people through rescue, adoption, and just being a butterfly and has found that friends and acquaintances are immensely helpful in adoption.

“I feel like if you know someone who’s in rescue—cats or dogs—you can help with that kind of thing,” she said. “The process can move along more smoothly—not that I WANT to move dogs out fast, but if it’s an amazing home and a quick adoption, we can get another one in here as fast. There’s no shortage of dogs.”

Sherri insists on appointments for potential adopters as many rescues do, but she also acknowledges that the present restrictions on outside visitors to municipal shelters have made things difficult. Serious adopters generally want to interact with animals before making a decision on whether to take them home.

“That’s why people are calling us so much—people need to meet the dogs and spend time with them,” she said.

Sparky and the Gang has a lot of neat dogs in both foster homes and in her kennels for you to meet. If you’re interested in doing a nose-to-nose with any of the funny fellows in the videos or on Sparky’s adoption page, email [email protected].



The puppies in the two videos above were recovered from an individual who had been murdered. The mother and puppies were left abandoned in the yard. Mom’s now in a foster home, and a couple of the puppies were adopted. As you can see, there are plenty left. Videos by Kate Karp


The two comedians above were left with Sparky and the Gang when the family moved. The mother was adopted first, and these guys are waiting, likely not for long. Video by Kate Karp


This is Vader. Dana said that he reminds her of Alf from the eponymous TV show. You’ll lose your you-know-what to this guy! Video by Kate Karp.

Sealpoint Siamese kitten looks to the left and relaxes on a duvet.

The nonprofit’s full name is Sparky and the Gang ANIMAL rescue, so I’m slipping in a cat. Give me any opportunity. Jasmine, a seal-point Siamese kitten, showed up as a stray, thin as a rail and full of fleas. She’s now in a great foster home and would love to be permanently in yours. Photo courtesy of Sparky and the Gang


Pet projects

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.

Just 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’ calendar

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.

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. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them.  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. Beginning June 18, 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
Woman with short blonde hair and wearing a light-colored shirt and pants squats next to a black-and-white cattle dog mix in a background of flowering bushes.

Freckles is an adorable, handsome lovebug. He appears to have been someone’s pet, but somehow, he ended up lost. Nobody came to claim him at the shelter, and now he’s up for adoption. He’s smart, sweet and energetic. Thanks to his foster, Denise, he’s now safe and cozy. Freckles is quickly learning commands like “sit” and “stay,” which will help him find a permanent home. Photo courtesy of Live Love.

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.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

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.”