On beyond rescue: Local rescue does more than just save dogs

Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue’s tireless and often very tired volunteers have rescued and adopted out actual thousands of dogs in the past couple of decades. Poor things from the streets, shelters, hoarding situations wind up living rich lives after the care the Sparky team gives them—in fact, two Long Beach Post staff members share their manors with Sparky alumni, and are all living happily ever after.

Rescue founder Sherri Stankewitz named the group after the dog who sparked Sparky and the Gang. Stankewitz has spent 25 years in rescue and has taken a lot of tangential rescue rides that make Mr. Toad look like Mr. Magoo. She and the team go on rescue missions to Mexico and bring back injured, sick and starving abandoned pets to be fixed, vaxxed, vetted, loved and ultimately adopted. She throws insane fundraisers. During the 2017 Canyon Fire 2, she packed friends into her truck and made an impromptu visit to the Orange County Fairgrounds to help identify confused and terrified horses found wandering when the fire hit. A few months ago, she and her team joined forces with several other rescues in the United States and China to provide temporary housing, baths, food and medical care for 155 dogs, mainly pugs, seized from meat markets. A planned respite in Tahiti took what had become the usual turn for Stankewitz when she offered a holding space in Sparky’s kennels for some dogs who were destined for rescues in Indiana.

“They got the mom out in time and the woman [who was the initial rescuer] was going to get [the puppies] back, but COVID hit, and they were stuck in Tahiti for a year,” Stankewitz said. Worse things, surely, than being stuck in Tahiti, but the dogs didn’t mind the flight over or the shuttle to Indiana, where they likely haven’t stopped wagging their tails.

Stankewitz has added marketing manager to her ever-widening scope of responsibilities as partner with Fix Long Beach, now The Fix Project. Besides offering low-cost veterinary services to the community, rescues can get special discounts to fix their pets, and Stankewitz lines them up. As the workload grows, instead of bogging everyone and everything down, it’s sourdough starter for more stuff.

Recently, Stankewitz, Fix Project board president Diana Kliche Corbett, and whoever else was around at the time came up with a new effort: Paws on the Street, an outreach program for people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers will educate them about the reasons for spaying and neutering animals and will also offer free services, including spay/neuter, paid for by a special fund. Paws on the Street will be featured in an upcoming video article.

Speaking of volunteers, the volunteers want to remind hopeful pup adopters that Sparky and the Gang rescue is run strictly by volunteers, Stankewitz included. They’re sitting up and begging for patience and cooperation.

“If you’re waiting for us to call you back, please cooperate by filling in the applications and giving them to us to respond to you,” said Lynda Montgomery, volunteer and self-described expert poop-scooper. “Also, understand that puppies sometimes get up to 1,000 applications. We may not get back to you right away. We need volunteers to help us do more.”

Many volunteers—not all—have lives outside rescue, and Stankewitz also stressed the need for more people wanting to donate whatever time they have to help.

Anyone wanting to adopt one of these adorable doggies needs to fully complete an application and send requested photos and other information. Incomplete applications won’t be processed. If you are ready and eager to adopt, begin the application process here, or email [email protected]. Request to volunteer at the same email, and of course, you can donate here The Gang will get back to you ASAP

Virtually Pets

Mama Dog was found pregnant in a backyard. She had seven puppies, but one was born with a cleft palate and is with a foster who is familiar with care and feeding of baby animals with such birth defects.

six puppies curled up in three groups on quilt

Six of Mama dogs’ seven puppies are taking their afternoon nap. We’d dare you to not say “Awwwww,” but it’s probably too late.


brown puppy with chin on back of white puppy on a quilt/

“We’re ready for our closeup—just let us sleep a little while longer, OK?”

Tails wagging in synchrony: there are actually four of these sweethearts, but one is out to foster. One of them can actually climb the wire fencing—if you’re undecided between a cat and a dog, he could fill either bill.

Fix Long Beach staff member Maddie guides a tour of Sparky and the Gang’s yard. Meet Joey and Bernie, Captain and Cora (Cora went home yesterday, two days after filming!), Zillow (with a name like that, he’s bound to find a dream home) and Karaoke.

Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Flaunt Your Paws fundraiser for Sparky and the Gang and The Fix Project: Saturday, June 12, 7 p.m., Club Flaunt at the Executive Suite, 3428 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, $10 cover charge.

Join up for the re-launch of Club Flaunt, a monthly get-together to bring the fun, the music and the good times back while also helping to support local organizations and special causes. Opening night will feature the amazing all-girl band Cause for Concern and will benefit dog-rescue group Sparky and the Gang and The Fix Project (Fix Long Beach), a nonprofit organization offering free and low-cost spay and neutering services to individuals who could not normally afford them. Ladies, this is your night to howl! Well-behaved (or not) guys are welcome, too!

Help wanted, help given

Foster2Furever needs foster homes for large-breed dogs

If you love big doggies and want to help socialize one for a forever home, fill out the application here, and Foster2Furever will contact a respected rescue who’ll match you to a king-size lovebug. Big homes and big yards aren’t required—just big hearts and a big desire to learn. Contact Foster2Furever here.

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a 501c3 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 the number on the graphic.

Fosters needed at Long Beach Animal Care Services

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. Long Beach Animal Care Services now has a foster program aimed at saving some little lives and socializing them. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: Wednesday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.

Fix Long Beach has reopened and is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

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

Kitten season is here, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save their 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. 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 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) is back in business for free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. 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.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

homeless man with longish brown hair and beard in old clothing sits on street closely cuddlinghis large tan-and-gray dog

Pets of the Homelesss home page and newsletter give 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 businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. Seventh 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. Third St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

This guy is at Long Beach Animal Care Services and needs very badly to find someone to understand him. Levi is a beautiful chocolate-point Siamese cat. In a typical Siamese manner, he has bright blue eyes and a handsome fur coat. He is very loving and enjoys a good massage by his handlers. Also typical of Siamese and a lot of other cats as well, Levi is not fond of other cats. He’s territorial and aggressive if his personal space is threatened. If you adopt him and give him his own space for an adequate period of time (patience, my dear Watson), you will have a truly wonderful pet!


Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: weekdays and Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., 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 center: viewable daily during store hours, PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal 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. Sadly, no ear scratching or chin rubs at this time, but volunteers can answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Links to lovables

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As as of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Fosters are needed for kittens as well. 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.


Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

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.”