Update: Friends of Long Beach’s free-pet-food giveaway has been postponed to June 20. Location has not yet been determined. (See “If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag.”)
The nonprofit, all-volunteer rescue Sparky and the Gang, grabs the most grubby, often gruesomely injured dogs mainly from the streets, with a couple coming from shelters. Then, with continuous care, lots of love, dedicated fostering and funds that they have to scramble for, these lucky furries turn into house pets that never would have had a chance for a decent life.
In between rescues, the volunteers dump their scruffy, cruddy clothes and get into elegant and often outlandish garb to produce wacky and inventive fundraisers because all the hospital treatments, food and grooming cost a lot of money.
For example, the rescue put on a glitzy Roaring Twenties-style speakeasy at Elinor that featured puppets and a magician, and they were the beneficiary of Drags for Wags that Sparky’s supporters from the International Imperial Court of Long Beach, Inc. put on. Baubles, bangles and bowsers everywhere.
That was fun, but the scramble to save lives and pay for it continues.
“Wow, man, just in the last week, we did specialized surgery—$6,000 for a leg amputation,” volunteer Louise Montgomery said. “Almost every dog we have has medical needs—parvo, mange, distemper, broken limbs, and you turn them into showpieces.”
Montgomery has volunteered with Sparky and the Gang for 20 years. Before that, she had been a key member of Animal Match Rescue Team. The rescue usually set up at the farmers market and the Petco on Marina Drive and Second Street, and specialized in little poochies. When Animal Match’s founder became ill and couldn’t continue, Montgomery, little charges in tow, merged the rescue with Sparky.
“Hey, we had seven dogs that needed a home!” she said. “Sherri gave us kennel space and assistance with placing the final dogs.”
Montgomery said that even without the ability to do in-person adoption events, anywhere from 50 to 70 applications have come in since the pandemic started. Sparky is relying on other ways to check up on an owner, such as photographs of backyards and homes, and they require the adopters to wear protective gear when they meet the dog. The rescue ditched the kennel model for full fostering years ago—a good switch of the tail for the pups. Dogs like the ones Sparky rescues particularly need hands-on humans willing to deal with their issues.
“[Adopters] have to realize that the dog isn’t going to be tied up with a bow,” Montgomery said. “The dogs have got histories, they’ve lived outside on the street, and people need to accept a challenge. I personally foster 35 to 60 dogs a year, and I can literally count on one hand—one finger even— the number of dogs that have been housebroken.”
Montgomery said that Sparky and the Gang gives support to adopters whenever they need it, but she advised that anyone who wants to adopt a pet needs to know that they’re making a lifetime commitment. Unlike library books, returning them isn’t an option. In fact, you can’t even get a library book now, but if you’re willing to take in an animal with as many flaws as a lot of people have but being capable of a lot more love, email [email protected], and in the subject line, type either “foster a dog” or “requesting an application to adopt” along with the dog’s name.
Dayzee, a 4-year-old poodle/Maltese mix, needs a nice, quiet home. She has epilepsy and walks slowly on a leash. However, once she’s at her favorite dog park, which is open now along with other dog parks, she gallops away off-leash. She’s good in a car, will sit quietly on your knee all day, and couldn’t care less about other dogs.
Here she is with Montgomery, who’s her foster. Montgomery said that she needs a groomer more than Dayzee does. They both look darn good, but at least Dayzee will be able to go to the furdresser now—groomers are open, too.
This is one happy guy! Fun, friendly little Kenny is a 5-year-old Westie mix who needs either a forever home or a foster, as Sparky and the Gang are paying for his board. Kenny was a rescue from SEACCA, a facility serving Downey and several surrounding communities. He had a front-leg injury—you can see a little skip to his step—and he was left in the shelter by his owner, who either couldn’t or didn’t want to address the injury. One specialist and $4,000 later—paid for by Sparky—and Kenny’s back on all four feet. Look how good he is on a leash!
Ruby Jo is around 7-years old and has Cushing’s syndrome, which causes overproduction of cortisone by the adrenal glands. Symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite and fur loss. You’d never know that she has the disease, however. She’s active and follows her foster everywhere, and she sure enjoys fending off waterspouts from the hose!
She’s on a good diet and meds, and she’s smart and affectionate. She does just fine with other dogs and cats, but her foster thinks that she’d relish the position of being the only dog. She’s not a big barker, but if something alerts her attention, she’ll emit a manageable yap. As for her appetite, she loves her raw food and devours it heartily. She has a great personality, as you can see, and whoever adopts her will be as lucky as she’ll be.
Uma, just a few weeks old, was a Long Beach owner turn-in along with her two siblings and her mom and dad. Of course, no one had been fixed, and Sparky’s taking care of that. Warning: Watch at your own risk lest you suffer cuteness overload. Even cat people will be overcome.
If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag:
Friends of Long Beach Animals has organized a food drive and you can help by donating cans or bags of pet food. Volunteers will distribute the donations to people affected by COVID-19. See the graphic for details—and thank you.
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 you or anyone you know is in this position, take a photo of the food normally given to the 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.
Fix’n Fidos is a nonprofit established by KTLA reporter Kacey Montoya to provide free spay/neuter to Southern California residents who can’t afford the procedures. Since there’s been a crimp in the mobile clinics’ availability, Montoya has shifted focus to people who may have trouble finding food for their friends. Monetary donations made on the organization’s page will help the effort along.
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, offers vouchers to cover spay/neuter procedures to anyone living in the five cities in the Long Beach shelter’s service area—Long Beach, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Signal Hill and Cerritos.
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. 7th 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. 3rd St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.
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
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.
- Bunny Bunch
- Cat Cove
- Friends of Long Beach Animals
- Fix Long Beach
- Foreverhome Pet Rescue, Inc.
- Feline Good Social Club
- Helen Sanders CatPAWS
- Jellicle Cats Foundation
- Kitty Katchers
- Live Love Animal Rescue
- Long Beach Animal Care Services
- Long Beach Spay & Neuter Foundation
- Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center
- Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue
- Stray Cat Alliance
- The Cat Cove
- The Little Lion Foundation
- Zazzy Cats
- Zoey’s Place Rescue
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