Local charity has a canny way to feed hungry pets of Long Beach

CANstruction Long Beach, which takes place annually, combines an ingenious feat of engineering with a gesture of generosity. A group of volunteer engineers builds a thematic structure of cans of food, displays it for several days at a local venue, and then dismantles it and donates hundreds of cans of food to charitable organizations in Long Beach. The purpose of the yearly event is to eliminate human hunger in the city.

In past years, Food Finders has been the beneficiary of the food items that built such structures as Breakfast CAN Make a Difference, which used cereal boxes as well as cans; One CAN, Two CANS, You CAN, You CAN End Hunger, with structures depicting Dr. Seuss stories; and the inaugural installation in 2014 of a Queen Mary clone, speaking of tin cans.

This year, the organization is celebrating National Pet Day, and the theme will be “CANines Rule!” It will be first in a series of pet-themed events—think of it as the CAN opener.

Dogs under the care of a worthy Long Beach rescue will be this year’s recipients of the CANstruction Pet Edition. Sherri Stankewitz, the founder and executive director of Sparky & the Gang, is known for her mass rescues of dogs from freeways, abuse and hoarding, so the approximately 4,000 cans used to make the sculpture will be put to good and immediate use.

“A workout for my biceps and food for the animals!” Stankewitz exclaimed, preceding her interjection with one of the animated but unprintable expletives that often pepper the exhausted rescuer’s speech. She said that she’s grateful to be CANstruction Long Beach’s first beneficiary of the Pet Edition and feels that the event will create awareness of Sparky & the Gang’s continuous work of rescuing and caring for dogs and finding them homes.

“We’ve spent months designing our structure and are allowed only 12 hours to meticulously stack and color-coordinate the cans into our design,” said Steven Peterson, P2S’ engineering group leader. “Being a dog lover myself, the ultimate donation of hundreds of cans of dog food to Sparky & the Gang makes it all worthwhile to our team.”

Blue will be on display during Trademark Brewing’s business hours until June 26, when volunteers will dismantle it and roll the cans out to happy, lolling tongues at Sparky & the Gang. Trademark Brewing is located at 233 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach—come admire Blue’s likeness, and please bring a few more cans of dog food as additional donations. You can donate directly to Sparky & the Gang here.

Visit this link to learn more about CANstruction Long Beach. Check out the international organization here.

Virtually pets

Sparky & the Gang adoptables will also make an appearance at the CANstruction Long Beach event. They’ll enjoy the meals that the organization has provided, but each pup would love their own bowl at home. Will you set a place for one of them at your table, or at least under it?

steel-gray rottweiler mix with white paws stands on all fours and looks at camera. "Harry" in red letters is under his chest.

Harry is such a good pup! He’s 9 months old and full of joy and play. He was one of the “oops litters” that Sparky took in. His siblings all got adopted, but black dogs often disappear into the background and struggle to find families. But Harry is a diamond in the making—he loves people, dogs, playtime and life in general. Want to add some life to your life? You’ll be wild about Harry!

little tan hound with floppy ears looks at cameras. It says "Midas" in green letters on the bottom left.

Midas is—well, a solid-gold survivor. He’s one of the Fab Six, a bunch of little angels found in box at a tire shop near a busy freeway. Sparky took them all in, of course, along with another group of dogs, again of course. The poor things were malnourished, full of worms and covered in fleas. Today, thanks to the volunteers’ “Midas touch,” they are happy, healthy and ready for new homes.

adorable puppy with brown eye masks and ears and white forehead, muzzle and paws has chin on orange chair and looks at camera

Isn’t Levi adorable? He’s a spaniel mix about 3 months old, and by the teddy-bearlike qualities he has, you’d never guess that he was part of a rough situation. He’s about ready to go home with you!

Great Furballs of Fun

 Calling all dachshunds for Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals!

SoCal’s favorite unintentional pet comedy will be held for the first time since 2019 when 100 dachshunds will compete in the event’s 25th running on Saturday night, July 16, at Los Alamitos Race Course. The event is a fundraiser for Seal Beach Animal Care Center. Racing spots for the cocktail franks of the doggie world are still available, so if you know of a faster-than-lightning dachshund one who’s simply super-friendly and a good sport, enter them by mailing a photo along with your contact info to [email protected]. Visit this link for more information

Council District 8’s Gener8 Kindness: A Pet Supply Drive

Long Beach City Council District 8 is collecting pet-supply items for the furry hopefuls at Long Beach Animal Care Services. The district is accepting dog and cat food, cat litter, collars, leashes, blankets, towels, dog and cat treats, dog and cat toys, hamster and gerbil food and toys, and other pet items—check this page for a more extensive list. Drop off the donations at the District 8 Field Office, 4321 Atlantic Ave., or at Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., at the entrance to El Dorado Park. The Pet Supply Drive will culminate in a Pet Wellness and Adoption event at Scherer Park later this month. More details to come!

Friends of Long Beach Animals’ free microchip clinic: through July 3, Bixby Animal Clinic, 3938 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, 562-426-4066, appointments preferred but not required

The Fourth of July—or rather, the unbridled fireworks season that should start (or continue) any day now—is the worst holiday for animals. Every year at this time, dogs and cats fill shelters in disturbing numbers after they’ve been startled by a crack or a boom and go running off. The best way to put the odds in favor of your pet getting a ride home is to provide them with a microchip. Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) is once again living up to its name by providing free microchipping for your dog or cat. Please take advantage of this opportunity if your pet is not currently microchipped—it may mean the difference of being reunited with your pet. Pass on this information to everyone you know so FOLBA can microchip as many pets as possible in Long Beach and the surrounding areas.

Adopt, adopt, adopt
Man lies on plaid blanket with neck-to-toe cats

Happy Father’s Day to a real cat dad! He’s fostering for Helen Sanders CatPAWS, and he’s not lying down on the job, no matter what he looks like. All cat foster parents are encouraged to fill out a form, available here, to take home a kitten and socialize them for the adoption center! It’s just temporary. Really. Unless . . . Photo courtesy of Nancy Cohn.

Foster for awhile—or furever!

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.

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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.”