If you’re a military veteran and you want to adopt a pet, there’s good news for both you and the cats and dogs in California public shelters: you can get your new best friend and not pay the adoption fee, which generally hover around $100 in shelters. The benefits of Senate Bill 245 (Chang, called the Pets for Vets bill, are helpful in themselves, but the legislation is really a gift and a thank-you to everyone who has served in the U.S. armed forces.

Gov. Newsom approved the Pets for Vets bill in August 2019, and it went into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The bill requires California public shelters to adopt dogs and cats free of adoption fee to any veteran presenting a current and valid driver’s license or ID card with the word “veteran” printed on the front. Depending on protocols, the shelter may limit the number of animals that can go home with the veteran to one pet in a six-month period and may also allow a dog and a cat to go home together. The adopter will be responsible for licensing and microchips unless the shelter provides either or both. As with the other applicants, veterans will need to complete applications and make adoption appointments. But bingo! after all that, they’ll have a new friend, whether Bingo is their name or is not.

Local animal activist Teri Gray, who was a Navy seaman stationed at Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center in Monterey for four years, characterized the Pets for Vets bill as “a wonderful idea.” Gray, a lifelong animal lover, said that unless they lived off base, military personnel were barred from having pets.

“Even living off base, I think military personnel were hesitant about committing to a pet because you might need to find a home quickly for them when your duty was up,” Gray said. “Besides that, you could also be transferred easily from one base to the next at a minute’s notice.”

woman with short gray hair and wearing a face mask, black-framed eyeglasses and a pink shirt, holds a baby opossum.
Teri Gray’s love and activism for animals encompasses all of them, not just house pets. She’s tended to such wildlife as baby opossums and recently founded Linked Up for Animals (LUFA), a nonprofit network for advocacy of animals everywhere. Photo courtesy of Teri Gray


The discipline instilled in military personnel, Gray said, serves them well in caring for a pet. Plus, animals help relieve the loneliness that many ex-military experience, particularly if they live alone. SB 245 can make it easier for veterans to make up for any time in the services without a companion animal and deservedly enrich both their lives and that of the animal.

“Animals make life wonderful, and for many who have trouble with feelings, animals love us unconditionally,” Gray said. “It is a great incentive to adopt an animal free of charge. I hope this bill is promoted to veterans in a concerted way.”

Whether you’re a veteran or a civilian, the furries will thank you more sincerely than anyone else possibly could. While any animal from any public shelter would be lucky to go home with a loving friend, Long Beach Animal Care Services is our shelter here, and they have a lot of pets—too many, in fact, and they all need to go home. The facility is short staffed, and the volunteers are laboriously completing multiple shelter shifts. Their devotion goes a long way—the cats and dogs get food, playtime, cuddle time, walks and patio time, and they’re as socialized as they can be.

Happy Veterans Day to everyone who has served!

Virtually Pets

 These pets and all the others can be adopted by appointment by calling 562-570-PETS or emailing [email protected]. Check out all the other cats, dogs, bunnies and other pets who need to go home here on the shelter website.

big gray dog with long pink tongue holds yellow tennis ball in mouth. He stands on a field of grass
Their names both begin with “gr,” but there’s nothing grrrr about Grayson and Griffin. Grayson’s a 2-year-old Lab mix with a beautiful gray coat and luminous brown eyes—the ideal big guy. He’s smart, too—he already knows several commands and is always up for a walk. He has a lot of energy and, as you can see by the photo, knows how to have a ball! In all, he’s a wonderful dog, but he’s been lingering at our shelter for eight months and has begun to lose weight. He’d love to chow down with an appreciative human or two. Ask for ID#A 655196.


gray pitbull with white head and paws smiles into camera, with pink tongue hanging out.
Does anything about this smiling guy say “senior”? Griffin’s 10 years old, which classifies him thus, but he’s a young senior! He likes to “hop” around and loves to visit with everybody and anybody. He’s a happy, joyful soul who checks in with people constantly. His favorite toys are the squeaky kind that he can throw up in the air and catch. He sits nicely for treats and rolls over for belly rubs. If you’re looking for the perfect companion whose face lights up every time he sees you, Griffin is the one for you! Ask for ID# A660756.


b;acl cat with blue collar rubs against kennel wall
Yes, cats! These two inky, slinky fellows have a celebrity vibe with the right touch of silly that inspired their names, which you might not want to change when you take them home. Cat Damon and Bing Clawsby are a bonded pair found as strays. They’re 11 months old and about three pounds each. They’re fun-loving and affectionate in every way. The volunteers adore them and know you will, too.


black cat with golden eyes peers out from behind kennel wall.
You probably couldn’t tell them apart in person anyway, so you might as well take them both home. Ask for ID#A658603 for Cat Damon and ID# A658604 for Bing Clawsby.


Just fur fun and fur-ther entertainment

Comedy and Cats: 8–9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 15, Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach,, $25, reserve your seat here.

Here we go again! The Salty AF crew of comedians and the Lounge cats will wrestle for the microphone and spotlight in which the only competitive element is who’s funnier, cats or comics. The group cannot wait for another bout with the kitties. Along with MC and Salty creator Holly Anabel Brown will appear Neel Nanda, featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Comedy Central and Amazon Prime’s “Inside Joke”; international touring comedian Dalia Malek, winner of multiple comedy festivals; ABC and YouTube performer Jose Barrientos; Chris Bryant, who appeared on Netflix’s “Cooking on High” and Amazon’s “Out on Stage”; and Hannah Rose, LA’s “Top Comic Competition” finalist.

Whiskers in Wonderland: 4–6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5, Boathouse on the Bay, 190 N. Marina Drive., Long Beach,, $65, order tickets here.

The pandemic has brought with it so many struggles for independent rescues along with the rest of our community near and far. The Little Lion Foundation, which rescues and raises newborn kittens and their “teenage” and adult counterparts, is one of the all-volunteer organizations that has not been stopped from answering the call for help time and time again in an effort to lend a hand to as many cats as possible. During the giving season, Little Lion is hosting this event to celebrate the volunteers who ask for nothing but good for the cats and to raise funds for the rescue to continue in its efforts. The event will be held outdoors at the restaurant and will include a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, bar drinks and a chance to meet some of our Little Lions

Second Annual Home for the Pawlidays pet adoption and craft fair: Saturday, Dec. 11, The Hangar at the Long Beach Exchange, 4150 McGowen St., Long Beach, free to attend, item prices vary.

District 5 councilwoman Stacy Mungo has joined fur-ces with The Cat Cove and The Little Lion Foundation pet rescues to present this wonderful opportunity to do some holiday shopping and, of course, to take home someone furry and adorable to share your season with! Shop for crafts and check out a few adoptables. Spaces are still available for local crafters who may want to take advantage of this prime shopping location in a high-foot-traffic area. Space is limited so reserve yours today. Find out space and cost details, and fill out an application here.

Help wanted, help given

Volunteers of many stripes needed at Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Want to spend a few hours playing with cats? How about brightening the day of a bunch of senior citizens with kitten visits? Fostering cats because you aren’t sure you want to keep one but wish you could have one ever so briefly in your life (and yes, you could change your mind and keep them forever). Delivering pet food to needy shelters? Assembling do-it-yourself newborn-kitten-care kits, and maybe bottle-feeding a few? Kennel cleaning (whee!)? Lend a paw to CatPAWS—fill out the volunteer application at this link.

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 562-370-3548.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: selected days and times, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.

Fix Long Beach is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Vaccination clinics take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

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

Kitten season is still in bloom, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save little lives, get them fixed, get them adopted. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. 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) offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Pets of the Homeless’s home page gives 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 Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach; and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

In-furson events

Photo courtesy of PetSmart Charities

PetSmart Charities National Adoption Week:: Nov. 8–15. PetSmart locations, adoption fees apply.

Once again, PetSmart Charities hosts its weeklong campaign to adopt out thousands of cats and dogs in PetSmart adoption centers across the country. Many of the rescues listed at the end of this article, including Helen Sanders CatPAWS, Sparky and the Gang, The Little Lion Foundation, The Cat Cove and Zazzy Cats, have pets available at local PetSmart adoption centers. Adopting at one of these locations will help support these rescues. Most importantly, of course, a pet will find a loving home. Find nearby locations and more information here.

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., second Saturday of each month, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; 10 a.m.–2 p.m., last Saturday of each month, VBurger, 420 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

The shelter’s favorite glamping vehicle for cats and dogs has been making the scene twice a month. Adopt at the locations and find either everything you need for your pet or a fine vegan lunch.

 Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sundays. 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 centers: viewable daily during store hours, playtime Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 3:00 p.m., PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach; Petco Marina Shores, 6500 Pacific Coast Hwy., third Saturday of every month between 1 and 3 p.m., Long 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, and now, you can finally visit with them, scratch their little ears, and rub them under their chinny-chin-chins on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Visitors to Petco  Marina Shores every third Saturday of the month can see them running around their playpens and cuddle them, too. Volunteers will answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Nota bon-e—fosters are needed everywhere!

two dogs and a cat on one border, two cats and two dogs on other. Caption says, "May we couch-surf at your place?"
May we couch-surf at your place?

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. 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.