Laying out the law: A look at Long Beach’s animal legislation

A close friend who’s been involved in rescue and animal welfare for decades was recently directing a tirade at the large number of people who flout laws put in place for the good of animals.

“Signs are posted all over the state that read ‘Animal Abandonment is subject to a $1,000 fine!’” my buddy railed, hackles abristle. “Why in this day and age does mankind still break the laws that were put in place to make this world a better place for everyone both two-legged and four-legged?”

The law my friend was referring to was SB 237, which details pet abandonment and the fines charged to anyone proven to have abandoned the pet. It was added, of all places, to the California State Vehicle Code in 2001.

My friend said her rescue, an adoption partner with the city shelter, is inundated with animals that are left in dumpsters, parks, abandoned in homes, or lost on the streets, with owners saying the animals were “hit by car” (or HBC) and bringing in animals that need thousands of dollars in medical treatment.

This is not to mention having unaltered pets and breeding, which is also spelled in the Long Beach municipal code.

Rescuers aren’t in it for the money—there isn’t much of that. They love what they do and get great joy from helping otherwise unfortunate pets, but at the same time, they feel that shelters and rescues are left to clean up messes that irresponsible people leave behind. That’s not true in every case, but it is in enough of them.

Laws are in place on both the state and city levels that address breeding, cruelty, spay/neuter and a lot of other things for the benefit of animals. The city laws supersede state laws if both differ in any way; the state law is enforced if there is no municipal-code equivalent. Animal advocates, my friend and I included, have spoken at council meetings and in person with other city officials to get some of the legislation in place. An example is the mandatory spay/neuter law, which was spearheaded by humane educator Judy Crumpton and drawn up by then-Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal and Councilwomen Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo. It forbids breeding of animals, with some exceptions.

The laws must be enforced, but there’s so much dog poop, dogs off leash, unaltered roaming cats and deliberate breeding going on that the task is gargantuan. It’s also up to residents to report violations. Some are unwilling to do so because of possible retaliation, and others don’t know where to report them.

Shelter Manager Staycee Dains said that Long Beach Animal Care Services is the primary agency responsible for enforcing Title 6 of Long Beach’s municipal code as well as the state laws pertaining to animals, but any law-enforcement entity with jurisdiction has the authority to enforce laws, for example, the Department of Fish and Wildlife would enforce violation of wildlife laws and, like most enforcement, is done following a notification of a violation by a civilian.

Breeding laws, Dains said, are administrative and not criminal, but noncompliance can result in monetary fines.

“When an officer responds to a reported violation, they have the discretion to issue warnings and citations, as well as seize animals when there is verifiable evidence of cruelty or neglect,” Dains said. “Officers support owners when possible by providing resources to help them comply with local and state laws.”

Dains added that her agency is sensitive to situations in which economics are a factor in having to give up pets.

Resources can include spay/neuter vouchers and referrals to organizations that can provide assistance.

Understandably, the shelter doesn’t send out animal-control officers for dog poop or off-leash behavior that they haven’t witnessed, but they will establish patrols in certain areas where many such violations have occurred. If a violator can be identified, e.g., with video footage, the shelter will issue a letter instructing the pet owner to comply with the law and informing them that noncompliance will result in further enforcement action, including citation.

Suspected animal abuse should by all means be reported, no matter what.

“At this time, the way to report animal abuse is by calling the shelter, but we will accept other reports via email and mail,” Dains said. “An officer will follow up with each complaint, regardless of how the complaint was received. Depending on the report and the evidence, the witness maybe required to testify at trial for prosecution.”

That might stop some from doing so, but abuse of animals, children or anyone helpless or voiceless is the lowest of the low, and authorities must be made aware.

As the late Betty White said, “if everyone took personal responsibility for their animals, we wouldn’t have a lot of the animal problems that we do.” It’s difficult to discuss pet laws without barking, but it’s also a good idea to be informed about them. Here is a by-no-means exhaustive sample of Long Beach’s municipal code that applies to animals. You can access Long Beach municipal codes as it pertains to animals here in straightforward fashion or read them in their entirety on the municipal code page.

Contact the shelter at 562-570-7387 or at [email protected] for information or to report a violation.

 Virtually pets

“In 2020, our dogs were getting adopted so quickly,” Live Love Animal Rescue founder Emily Ann Peters said. “Now, the ‘hotcakes’ aren’t selling, even though we have some really great dogs in need of their forever homes.”

Peters was referring to the rush-to-adopt frenzy that took place during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, during which her rescue not only did a ton of adoptions but also managed, with the help of a couple of cat rescues, to literally empty Long Beach Animal Care Services’ kennels. She and her volunteers found hundreds of rescues and fosters not by twisting arms but with her soft-spoken, zen-like presence. Of course, the dogs helped, too.

“Anything you can do to share our dogs will help them find a family, and it opens up a foster spot for the next dog that needs us,” Peters said when I asked for some bowser bios. I’m more than happy to do anything like that for rescue groups with standards like Live Love’s. If you want a dog in your life forever or just for a while as a foster until they find a forever home, check out these four and fill out an application here. Check out all their doggies on this link.

tan pit bull with perky ears and blue collar sits on a light-tan wood floor looking at the camera

Anabella is 4 years old, weighs 65 pounds, and is beautiful, intelligent and loving. She’s clever and knows many tricks, and her favorite game is finding hidden treats. She’s mellow around the house, likes to go for walks, and take nice naps on her return. She can be reactive around other dogs, but from what we’ve seen, Anabella is calm around kids, and when she feels like it’s a little noisy and too much, she takes herself off to nap in her crate like a good girl. This poor girl, through no fault of her own, has bounced around from house to house, and she deserves to land somewhere good—for good. Come meet Anabella!

tan pit bull stares open-mouthed at camera, with cut look on face. She sits on a patterned runner rug.

Like so many lovebug pit bulls, Fawn, 9, and weighing 65 pounds, thinks she’s a lap dog and will happily climb aboard to sit on your lap for kisses and cuddles. She loves a good belly scratch and will let you know if you stop too soon! Similar to Ferdinand the bull in the old children’s book, Fawn enjoys going for walks to sniff the flowers and see what’s going on in the neighborhood. Although she’s low energy around the house, she will happily go for short runs or hikes. She is friendly to all new people she meets, and not really interested other dogs. She’ll only bark to alert you if there’s someone outside the house or the UPS truck is making their deliveries on your street, She loves treats, and will shake your hand to say thank you! She’s calm and very sweet around children, and just an overall gem of a dog. We are all a little bit in love with this beautiful and kind natured senior lady.

fluffy shepherd mix stares out into camera. She has a tan body and a black "saddle." She lies on a sofa back.

Ariel is affectionate, smart and eager to earn her treats. She is well mannered at home and happily puts herself in her crate. Ariel thrives on structure and consistency. She is the only dog in her foster home, but she enjoys playing with other dogs when she has a chance to meet them. She loves sniffing around and exploring the world Ariel is 4 years old, weighs 50 pounds, and is ready for her forever home!

Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Sound Healing event: 5:30–7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 4, Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $30

Anyone who’s had a cat purring on their lap or stomach knows how good those vibrations are. The only cat lounge in Long Beach is upping the healing by presenting a healing sound bath—with cats! As humans work the ancient instruments, kitties will weave around, over and on you as you lie down taking it all in. Wear loose clothing, and bring a face mask, as COVID-19 precautions are enforced there. Order your tickets here.

Happy Meower: 4–6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11–Monday, Feb. 14, 4–6 p.m., Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $25 for a pair of tickets

The town’s only cat lounge celebrates their guests by offering a reduced price ticket for two to visit their special cats and also complimentary wine and chocolate as well, and all the kitties you can amuse yourself with. There will also be a drawing on each of these four days and times for one guest per hour to receive a special FGSC goodie bag. Spaces are limited, so book your spot for two right meow!

Comedy & Cats: 8–9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 12, Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $25

They’re back at it again! Enjoying a night of laughter and comedy has never been this su-purr! Not only will there be funny people entertaining you but also 30 cats and kittens will be joining in the fun! Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. to give you more quality time with the Feline Good kitties! Buy tickets here.

Help wanted, help given

Long Beach Animal Care Service’s Jan. 5 Virtual Orientation available to view

The shelter’s virtual orientation was hugely successful, with great attendance and enthusiasm. If you missed it and would like to join the team before the next session taking place Jan. 19, please watch the orientation here and follow the instructions. You can access the video by clicking on the discussion link on the side. Hope to see you volunteering soon!

Volunteers of many stripes needed at Helen Sanders CatPAWS

The best labors are those of love, and such work comprises Helen Sanders CatPAWS. One of the most gratifying aspects of animal rescue—the reward that makes all the work and tears and sleepless nights worthwhile—is sending cats and kittens off to their new lives and homes. CatPAWS has an immediate need for people who can help their adoptables pack up their kit bags and go to their forever homes! The CatPAWS Adoption Center is located inside PetSmart at 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, and if you want to be part of making smiles and that magical moment when a previously homeless cat becomes a cherished family member, please fill out a short online application. Thank you for wanting to volunteer and save lives!

Feline Good Social Club seeks volunteers

Long Beach’s only special space for frolicking with felines not your own is recruiting volunteers to help care for all the little loungers in the club. Volunteers will help with two-hour shifts from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. A monthly-minimum shift of six hours is required. To be valet to the little stars, email [email protected].

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a nonprofit nonprofit organization serving the older-adult population in and around Long Beach. Ida’s Walkers offers dog-walking services to low-to-moderate-income seniors who are hospitalized, have limited mobility, or are at risk of falling. If you want to help senior citizens keep their beloved pets as long as they are able to live at home, call 562-370-3548.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: selected days and times, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at

Fix Long Beach is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Vaccination clinics take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season is still in bloom, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save little lives, get them fixed, get them adopted. 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. But before you jump in, consider these steps outlined here. 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—(see above)—can telephone the general number at (562) 570–7387 to request a voucher.

 Spay/neuter appointments available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. More clinic information available here. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

Adoption events
White cat with tabby-patch ears and back stares upward, sitting in bowling-pin position in a glassed-in kennel with store products in background

Hopeful kitty resides at Pet Food Express’ adoption center.

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. .Sundays., Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

This adoption center is a much-needed satellite operation of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Julie and her team pull adoptable cats—”adoptable,” to these guys, means any cat in a shelter kennel! The team socializes the kitties until they’re adopted, which takes less time than you could imagine!

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption centers: viewable daily during store hours, playtime Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 3 p.m., PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach; Petco Marina Shores, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, third Saturday of every month 1-3 p.m., 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, and now, you can finally visit with them, scratch their little ears, and rub them under their chinny-chin-chins on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Visitors to Petco Marina Shores every third Saturday of the month can see them running around their playpens and cuddle them, too. Volunteers will answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Fosters are needed everywhere!

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.

And finally … 

Celebrate Betty White’s birthday on Jan. 17 by clicking on any of the links below, finding the donate button, and shoot out a donation in this great lady’s name!

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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.”