Residents in certain parts of Long Beach who own a cat or a dog have a little over two weeks to take advantage of a temporary amnesty program that waives fees for first-time pet-license applications and late renewal penalties.

Residents are eligible if they live in any of the city’s Community Development Block Grant-designated areas. CDBG is a federal grant program that assists the development of neighborhoods with high concentrations of people with low or moderate incomes. That largely includes parts of Downtown, Central, West, and North Long Beach, though small portions of East Long Beach also meet the criteria. Find a map of CDBG areas in Long Beach here.

“The pandemic brought with it an uptick in pet adoption as well as financial struggles for many communities,” 8th District City Councilman Al Austin, who initially proposed the program, said. “Taking those factors into account, an amnesty program seemed like an appropriate barrier to remove to help people with late fees but also encourage new pet licenses.”

While the amnesty program was originally slated to run through Aug. 23, the City Council later voted to move forward with extending the deadline through Dec. 31.

Long Beach Animal Care Services manager Staycee Dains said during the Sept. 6 council meeting that the 60-day amnesty period had increased the number of new pet licenses to the level they had been before the pandemic—1,533 in pre-pandemic 2019. License purchases dropped to slightly under 1,400 in 2020 and plunged to nearly 1,000 in 2021. After the program went into effect this year, 1,531 new licenses were purchased.

“While our office hoped an extension would increase the number of licenses acquired, we felt it was important to continue the program through the holiday season because this time of year can be especially impactful on low- and middle-income residents,” said Von Thompson, the legislative affairs deputy for the 8th District. “Stressing over pet licensing fees is one less thing many families will have to worry about this year.”

Pet licenses serve a purpose

Dains noted there are several reasons to comply with pet-licensing regulations. State law requires that dogs are inoculated against rabies and in Long Beach, both cats and dogs must be inoculated. Licenses serve as inoculation records, which contribute to public health. They are also proof of ownership and help ensure a safe, quick return if the pet gets lost.

“Most people think that won’t happen to them, but 5,000 dogs and cats come to LBACS every year because they were lost and could not be reunited with their families,” Dains said. “A pet license lets finders know that the owner cares for and wants their pet back. These animals are held in the shelter for longer periods of time when they are found and are even given a free ride home to their family should they become separated.”

The license fees help support life-saving programs at shelters and also bring people in to shelters where they can connect with other services, such as spay/neuter vouchers. These certificates remove a sizable percentage of the cost at selected veterinary clinics.

Austin hopes to increase the city’s outreach to people with pets through work with the council offices.

“As long as a need exists, I hope that future initiatives can improve upon this program to better serve residents throughout Long Beach,” he said.

See the “A helping paw” section below for details about fee-waiver eligibility.

Virtually pets

During the gift-giving season, or any time when presents are bought for loved ones, remember that pets aren’t things to surprise someone with or to teach a child responsibility. They are gifts in the sense that they enrich our lives, and we’re gifts to them as well, particularly to the ones who were rejected or dumped and thus failed.

However, if you really want to gift someone with a pet, here’s a coupon that appears in The Scratching Post during the holiday season as regularly as “All I Want for Christmas Is You” does while you’re pushing a wobbly-wheeled cart down the aisle in a market.

Art by Michelle Manion

Print out the coupon and present it to someone you love—and only if they want a pet, mind—and let them meet a cat, a dog, a rabbit or any adoptable creature in a shelter or a rescue. When the love match is made, you pay the adoption fee and add any treats, toys, food and accessories you like. Guaranteed to bring joy to everyone’s world.

K9 Kismet pulls dogs who’ve been in the shelter for a long time and risk euthanasia. The doggies spend time with fosters to lift their spirits, socialize them further and give them a glimpse of the future. All dogs have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and housebroken. They’re all waiting for a ride in Santa’s sleigh to a new home. Barring that, they’ll settle for a vehicle or a brisk walk home. Adoption applications are available here.

gray pitbull with white streak between eyes and white chest, and wearing small Christmas lights and red bow, stands against a blue-and-gray-striped background with a confused look on her face.

Loretta is energetic without being rambunctious and an extrovert who also loves her “me time.” She’s food-motivated in a way that doesn’t lead to her hunting around for other treats. When this 2-year-old lies down her head at night, visions of rope toys dance in her head. When she gets up, she plays double-dog-dare-you as she grabs her favorite rope toy and challenges you to take it from her. Then, 15 minutes later, it’s back to nap time. Loretta’s perfect day involves going for a 30-to-45-minute exploratory walk. She listens well when instructed to “leave it” and “sit.” She’s comfortable around new people and dogs she sees out and about. Then at home, of course, it’s power-nap time. At holiday (or any) gatherings, she mingles and engages with guests: “Hello, how are you? Thank you for coming! Have you tried the rope toy? It’s delightful.”

brown pit bull with white chest and paws and dressed in Christmas tree ear decorations, red scarf and red-frame glasses sits on pavement with smiling mouth open.

Don’t let Princess Lula’s name fool you—she’s the sturdiest princess you’ll meet. She’s currently in need of a foster or prospective adopter. She’s 5 years old, a lean 52 pounds and a quick learner. She’ll will make you smile with her basic obedience skills and passion for all things fun. She’s a good roommate who sleeps through the night. She enjoyed condo life with a temp foster, so she would be happy living in an apartment, a condo or a house. You can also expect a solid walker on the leash. Princess Lula seems to be dog selective (vs. reactive), which means she can typically pass other dogs on walks without being triggered; however, it’d be ideal if her human is willing to take advantage of opportunities to work on her socialization through activities like structured pack walks rather than dog parks. She has a strong prey drive, so it’s important she’s not left unattended outside and is always secured with a leash when out in public, for the sake of the random squirrel or cat. Since she’s a current student of the K9 Kommittee—dog trainer and behaviorist—her foster or foster-to-adopter can work with the team inside or outside the home and continue the good foundation they’ve laid.

white pit bull itting on grass with right brown eyepatch wears Santa hat and looks like he's laughing, with closed eyes.

Goliath was a shelter favorite—all the volunteers loved to walk him. He’d sit in his kennel with a big grin on his face when he realized it was his turn to get some TLC. Despite his eagerness, Goliath is easy on the leash and remains calm even when passing by reactive or easily excitable dogs. His ideal home would be with people who relax and appreciate a good day of naps rather than with a dedicated hiker. Goliath has a sweet disposition and is appreciative of his toys and treats and has proven himself to be comfortable around dogs with calm, well-balanced energy. A dog who can downshift quickly can make friends with him fast, but high-energy dogs who like to engage in rowdy play are not a good match. Goliath is currently in a board-and-train, honing old skills and developing new ones. His ideal foster or adopter would be an experienced handler who is willing to continue the work of the trainer to provide the structure and guidance he needs. Goliath needs a strong pack leader who understands his needs.

white pit bull with black nose and wearing red scarf looks into camera, with holiday lights in background.

Meet Virgo, a very special 5-year-old pittie described by her short-term foster mom as the “easiest dog ever.” Because she’s sight-impaired and likely has been so since birth, we anticipated that it might take Virgo some time to grow accustomed to new surroundings—but we’ve never been so happy to be so wrong. This smart, confident lady quickly learned her foster home’s layout and even leveled up to the dog door soon thereafter! Virgo is house-trained and crate-trained. She’s low energy, so she prefers yard time over walks but is good on the leash. Sometimes, she’ll pause if she’s unsure about changes in the terrain, but if you talk her through it, this trusting girl will happily follow your lead. If you’re looking for an affectionate cuddler who loves being around older kids and adults, whether walking or lying at your feet as you work, Virgo is ready to meet you. If you have another furry friend who is of similar size and disposition, Virgo will fit right in.

A helping paw

This map determines eligibility for pet-license-amnesty program.

Pet license amnesty extended to Dec. 31

 The city of Long Beach has extended the fee and penalty waivers for pet licenses to Dec. 31. Anyone living in the highlighted Community Development Block grant neighborhoods, as shown on the above map, may request a waiver by phone at 562-570-7387, by applying by mail at 7700 E. Spring St., or in person at the shelter. The waiver program is not available online. Visit this link and access the drop-down menu with the title “Do I Qualify for A Free New Pet License?” for details. Call 562-570-7387 for additional information.

Great furballs of fun!

Photos with Santa

If Woofie bites your jeans leg or Whiskers is clawing something they shouldn’t when you’re off to see Santa with the kids, it’s only because they want to see Santy, too. They’ve been good—in their own way, of course—and deserve goodies, too. Most of all, they’re intrigued by that beard. Now, they have their chance.

Head to this free event, brought to you by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, at Pet Food Express Belmont Shore, 5265 E. Second St., on Saturday, Dec. 17, 1 p.m.–3 p.m.

Donations are gladly accepted, and remember to be good by bringing the dogs on leashes; cats, birds and pocket pets in carriers; and whatever the wisdom is with reptiles. Bring your phone, too, to take the photos.

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ inaugural Happy Howlidays Series

List of gifts for pets for a Happy Howlidays event

LBACS‘ inaugural series will culminate in a wrap-up event Saturday, Dec. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the agency’s shelter, 7700 E. Spring St. Guests are encouraged to wear Christmas-themed ugly sweaters and bring unopened store-bought pet treats to share as stocking stuffers. Bring a gift for a furry friend to put under the Christmas tree.

Foster for a while—or furever!

Courtesy of Long Beach Animal Care Services

There are more than 200 LBACS dogs, cats and bunnies that need your help. LBACS has reached urgent capacity with the influx of animals coming into the shelter during the holidays. There is no more kennel space to take in more dogs at the shelter.

Your help is needed to keep the healthy and lost pets out of the shelter.

LBACS has expanded its adoption hours: Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests are welcome to browse until closing. To speed up any adoption process, email [email protected]. To foster, email [email protected] or fill out this form.

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 socialize them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about that not-ready-for-a-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.

City extends pet-license amnesty program