For a year now, empathy has been in abundance everywhere in the world for Ukrainians as they resist attacks on their country and struggle to defend themselves and keep their families safe. Cats, dogs and rabbits are part of these families—not just considered as such. They are family members, and many of us relate.

Ukrainians are determined that no one is left behind, and that includes animals. Volunteer Yevgeniya Pokhylko said that rescuers come to the frontlines of the war when people have no choice but to leave their pets behind. The rescuers locate the animals and take them to rescues, giving them food and any medical care needed. Sometimes, they manage to reunite them with their thankful humans.

During a trip to Ukraine, Arina Gerasimova, founder of the nonprofit Brighter Ukraine Foundation in Los Angeles, collected a cat that belonged to a refugee in Long Beach and flew back to the United States with the animal. Pokhylko said that the cat was anxious during the flight but safely made it home. Both cat and human were overjoyed to be reunited.

“My best friend, her mother, her child—when they were bombing outside their building and the tanks were approaching, their departure was delayed because they were looking for the cat, who was hiding,” Pokhylko said. “I remember her looking for the cat and screaming, ‘I can’t leave him behind!’

“They finally drove past Russian tanks with the cat and the dog and two children and drove for five days,” she added. “It was evident from the first part of the war that the most important thing is family and pets. You can lose your home, but your family and your pets cannot be replaced.”

Pokhylko and her friend Anna Lugo grew up in Ukraine and still have family there. Lugo works as a digital marketing manager and Pokhylko is a speech/language pathologist. They both find time to make people in the Los Angeles and Long Beach area aware of the needs of people and animals enduring the war in Ukraine and suggest ways to help.

Last weekend, they organized a group of volunteers and set up booths at two animal events near Rosie’s Dog Beach in Belmont Shore: the Bob Long Inaugural Mutt Run on Feb. 18 and the far-from-inaugural Bulldog Beauty Contest (18 iterations of it so far) on Feb. 19. The group sold handmade jewelry and dolls, T-shirts and other items, the proceeds of which were headed to Ukraine pet rescues. They also had conversations with attendees about Ukraine.

A man and his bulldog peer through a window in a booth decorated with blue and yellow hearts, sunflowers, and the words "Paws for Ukraine."
A photo booth bearing the slogan “Paws for Ukraine” took photos for pawsterity of dogs and their humans at the Bulldog Beauty Contest on Feb. 19. Photo courtesy of Anna Lugo.

Pokhylko had met the Bulldog Beauty Contest’s organizer, community leader Justin Rudd, at Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap where she’d go to exchange books.

“When the war started, he wanted to work on something with us, and he asked if we could help organize a vigil,” Pokhylko said. “From then on, he has invited us to events and organized some other fundraisers for us. Justin has a nice way to deliver his events. We saw the ad for (the Bulldog Beauty Contest) on social media and asked if we could take part and raise money.”

“It’s an honor to help him,” Lugo said.

Donations from both events went directly to the Plushka Animal Rescue in Kyiv and Give a Paw, Friend in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine shelters that the volunteers are familiar with. They’ll help buy food, medical care and other immediate needs.

“People were very open—they wanted to find out what we were all about. They said, ‘We hear about Ukraine on the news, and we want to help,’” Lugo said.

Blonde woman in pink shirt and cap next to photo of a woman in rabbit ears and yellow sweater.
Jenya Pokhylko and her friend Anna Lugo grew up in Ukraine and still have family there. Lugo works as a digital marketing manager and Pokhylko is a speech/language pathologist. They both find time to make people in the Los Angeles and Long Beach area aware of the needs of people and animals enduring the war in Ukraine, and they suggest ways to help. Photos by Kate Karp

Lugo and Pokhylko’s efforts come under the umbrella of Gerasimova’s Brighter Ukraine Foundation, which helps elderly people, children, displaced residents and animals. The foundation organizes community events to raise funds for humanitarian packages to ship to Ukraine.

“Clothing, meds, generators—any kind of needs people there have,” Lugo said.

“We provide food packages every week for inside refugees,” she added, referring to people who fled to parts of Ukraine that are not under attack.

Lugo is grateful for all the support they get and the progress they make.

“So many people want to help, and they don’t know how,” she said. “When they see us, we’re their channel. We know what to do and we go straight to the source. We get information from our families, who lived this war every day for a year. We know what people eat, what they buy, when the electricity is off, when they bomb residential buildings, how many people were killed. We don’t get used to the killing, but we get used to helping each other. We have to think about the animals and everyone affected by this madness.”

Pokhylko and Lugo encourage people to visit the web page and social media pages of Brighter Ukraine Foundation and the shelters they help.

“If you see us collecting donations, stop on by,” Lugo said. “It’s important to know that we help humans a lot, but those animals rely on our help. Wild animals, too—those organizations are helping. A lot of the Ukrainian zoos are helping. The bombs are polluting our forests and rivers, and volunteers are sacrificing their lives sometimes. We’re lucky—we don’t have to hear the sirens. Just spare your time and a few dollars, and it’ll make a huge impact.”

Virtually pets

As Lugo said, we’re lucky—we don’t have to hear sirens, we’re not under siege, and our animal volunteers here are safe, for the most part. But they work very hard to save lives of pets and to keep more unwanted ones from being born. They, too, rely on donations and often have to pay for supplies, medical care and spay/neuter procedures out of their own pockets.

Two such organizations are The Cat Cove and Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation. They frequently work together conducting TNR (trap/neuter (and spay)/return) and adopting out the kittens and any adult cats who used to live in homes but got dumped into colonies. Please support them. Here are a few furries who want to go home.

Orange cat with belled collar lies on back of chair.
Poppy is a beautiful little girl who was born around May 2022. The Cat Cove TNR’d her and found her to be very sweet and playful. She had been limping, so The Cat Cove took her to the vet a few times for X-rays and evaluation. During recovery, the foster realized that she was not feral. After two months of crate rest, she was released for adoption. She absolutely needs another kitty friend to play with in her forever home.
smiling orange cat lies with head on rump of tabby
Told you she’d be happy with a buddy! Look at the smile!
Tabbico cat with long fluffy tail claws a tall scratching post and looks at the camera.
Dora was born in April 2022. She’s an independent cuddle bug who enjoys playing with friends. She loves to chase and bunny-kick her toys. Each day when she first sees you, she will come to you and loudly demand to be pet and held. She loves pats on her head and tummy. Her favorite nap spot will be atop the highest cat tree. She, too, must have another kitty friend to play with in her forever home.

Poppy and Dora are in foster homes sponsored by The Cat Cove. Click here for an adoption application.

Two black-and-white cats peer out of a bed with a banana-shaped toy under their chins.

Born to the alleyways of Long Beach, Marilyn and her sister, Monroe, are now princesses of the indoor lifestyle. They love high-quality meals, soft plush furniture (big, big fans of Sherpa quality sleep bedding) and personalized catnip cat toys. Marilyn is a hide-and-seek kinda gal, but when the laser toy appears … watch out. The huntress is out in full force. Monroe, on the other hand, becomes the lioness when the wand toy comes out. She is tenacious and unstoppable. The sisters are a bonded pair of kitties and must be adopted together. They’ll require patience while they acclimate and a small room to start off in before they venture out into the home. They’re not familiar with children or dogs. A quiet, relaxing, safe and loving home would best suit them.


Marilyn and Monroe are with Jellicle Cats fosters. Click here for an adoption application.

Great furballs of fun!


Fundraiser/adoption event for Live Love Animal Rescue: Beauty may be skin deep, but we’re only human. Our pets are beautiful from fur to skin to heart and soul. This fundraiser, though, will help your outer layer be beautiful and also do something beautiful for the dogs at Live Love. Check out Lather’s line of cruelty-free bath, body and beauty products, and enjoy free gifts with your purchase, refreshments and raffles. Lather will donate 20% of all purchases during the event to benefit Live Love.

The fundraiser will take place Saturday, March 4, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., 6440 Pacific Coast Highway, # 160.

CatPAWS 10th annual Bowling Fundraiser: Join up with Team Kitty and rack up a few winners for the cats and kittens at Helen Sanders CatPAWS. Bowl for two hours, or just watch the pins fall like a veritable feline. Chow down on hearty appetizers or a personal pizza, with soft drink included. All tickets include an opportunity drawing, and prizes will be awarded for highest and lowest scores.

The event will be held Saturday, March 18, 2 p.m.–5:30 p.m., at Westminster Lanes, 6471 Westminster Blvd. It costs $45 per bowler or $20 to sit on the sidelines and cheer. Buy tickets here. All proceeds benefit CatPAWS.

St. Cat-tricks Day Fundraiser: Feline Good Social Club cat lounge has some very special kitties who love to pawty and are looking forward to celebrating a lucky day. Come hang out with over 30 kitties and the special improv troupe Held2Gether, who will be providing a 45-minute fun set to delight and entertain you. The organization will provide one complimentary Things for Your Head seltzer with the purchase of each ticket. Everyone who wears their St. Pawdy’s Day green will be entered into a special drawing for Feline Good Social Club merch.

The event costs $35 and will be held Saturday, March 18, 5 p.m.–7 p.m., at Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave.

Dog Obedience Classes: Is Sadie acting shady? Does Belle like to yell? If your dog needs to know good behavior, it’s time to bring them to school. Instructor Charlie DiBono of Body and Mind K9 makes no bones about good dog behavior being more than sitting up and looking cute.

The free classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are held from noon to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Lincoln Park Dog Park, 101 Pacific Ave. Space is limited, so roll over and get out the door.

Foster for a while—or furever!
LIttle calico-patch cat with closed eyes stands on blue towel.
Prada was born eyeless. Helen Sanders CatPAWS sees all cats as perfect, though, and pulled her from the shelter. She’s ready to be adopted.

Each year, more than 5 million pets enter animal shelters in need of loving homes. Today, pets are staying in shelters longer, and many local shelters are struggling with stretched budgets and limited staffing, our own Long Beach Animal Care Services included. In partnership with PetSmart Charities, Helen Sanders CatPAWS will bring adoptable pets to the Seal Beach PetSmart location, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., in support of National Adoption Week, March 6-12.

During the in-store event, Helen Sanders CatPAWS invites pet lovers to make room in their homes for pets in need. PetSmart Charities also encourages people to consider adopting pets with special needs, like sweet Prada, seen in the photo, who was born without eyes. She was rescued as a tiny, sick kitten from a public shelter. To view all available pets for adoption, please visit the CatPAWS adoption page.

PetSmart locations everywhere are also commemorating the week.

The more than 300 LBACS dogs, cats and bunnies also need your help, as The Scratching Post stresses. The city of Long Beach’s commitment to Compassion Saves means that animals in our care can live and thrive. We need our community to show its support of Compassion Saves by fostering, adopting, volunteering, and donating.

LBACS has reached urgent capacity with the influx of incoming animals to the shelter during the holidays. There is no more kennel space to take in more dogs at the shelter. To maintain the LBACS Compassion Saves model of helping those in greatest need—the sick, injured and abused—your help is needed to keep the healthy and lost pets out of the shelter. If you are interested in adopting, please email [email protected] or apply to foster here.

shelter volunteer with peaked cap and blue longsleeve shirt smiles at camera hugging a gray and white pitbull. They sit on the grass.
Long Beach Animal Care Services volunteer Jo Ellen’s big smile shows the love that she feels for Griffin. If you’re a military veteran, you can take Griffin home and pay no adoption fee–not just on Veteran’s Day, but any day you can make an appointment!

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. Keep in mind that the rescues are self-supporting and need donations and volunteer help. Most of them cannot accept found or unwanted pets. Contact Long Beach Animal Care Services for options.

Ally’s Animal Network

Bunny Bunch

Cat Cove

Friends of Long Beach Animals

Fix Long Beach

Feline Good Social Club

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County

Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Ho’ola Dog Rescue

House of Broken Cookies

Jellicle Cats Foundation

K-9 Kismet

Little Lion Foundation

Live Love Animal Rescue

Long Beach Animal Care Services

Long Beach Spay and Neuter Foundation

Newborn Feline Rescue

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center

Pug Rescue of Korea

SAFE Rescue Team

Seal Beach Animal Care Center

Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue


Stray Cat Alliance

Wrigley Kittens

Zazzy Cats