Occasionally, I’ll be putting the finishing edits on a shelter adoption column, and I have all the ducks in a row as well as the dogs, cats and rabbits.

Then, right when I’m uploading the photos, I get a hurried email from the shelter that says, “Hey! Mata Furri just got adopted!” So then, I have to ask them for another photo and bio, get the photo ready to post, come up with another accurate and inviting description, and get the whole thing in before deadline.

And then, I yell, “Woot woot!” and give a virtual fist bump to everyone in the shelter, both staff and volunteers, who went to a heck of a lot more trouble than I did to save that adopted pet’s life and send them home, hopefully forever. Because that’s what it’s all about.

And last week, Long Beach’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department announced that Long Beach Animal Care Services, which operates within the department, closed out 2022 with its highest number of adoptions ever. Last year, the facility found homes for a tail-wagging, pupil-dilating 1,961 pets, which exceeded the goal of 1,500 adoptions stated in the objectives of the department’s 2021–2024 Organizational Objective Plan, the strategic plan for the shelter.

“We have worked diligently to get as many animals as possible into loving, safe homes, and our 2022 numbers reflect that commitment,” the department’s director Brent Dennis said in a statement. “I am so proud of the efforts made by our Animal Care Services staff and embrace by our community.”

The numbers represented a 194% increase in pet placement since 2018—the reported number for that year is 686.

The achievement was credited to a combined effort of the implementation of the aims and goals of both the strategic plan and the “Compassion Saves” model developed by shelter management, city staff and the Mayor’s Animal Care Visioning Task Force, which comprises members of the rescue and advocacy communities.

The model includes such strategies as support services, particularly regarding spay and neuter programs; education; public communication through social media and networking; and community outreach.

To make the vision real, the city had to hire more personnel to address the shelter’s staffing problems. Among the recent hires are a behavior-enrichment coordinator, an adoption coordinator, a community outreach coordinator and a foster coordinator. The latter is a triumph for shelter-pet proponents who, often quite vocally, deplored the lack of a dedicated foster program at LBACS.

Last year, 500 pets were placed in foster homes. Quite a few fosters ended up adopting, in fact, and that’s another notch in the adoption-numbers collar.

The resulting social-media presence of pet photos with bios both touching and hilarious, extended shelter hours (you can now go in and meet your best buddy from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.), an increased number of Adoption Waggin’ offsite adoption events, and the Howl-O-Ween and Happy Howlidays family parties have contributed to the great number of adoptions.

“The emphasis we’ve placed on community engagement and offsite adoption events over the past year has proven to be a successful strategy to get more animals into homes, thanks to our Animal Care Services staff and residents,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “We will build on this achievement so even more animals can be adopted.”

We’re gonna hold you to that, Mr. Mayor. We want that to happen, too!

LBACS is open for adoptions 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The shelter is located at 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, near the entrance to El Dorado Park (there is no parking fee for shelter visitors). For more information about adopting or fostering a pet, email [email protected] or [email protected], or call 562-570-7387. Check their website to see everyone who’s there, waiting for you.