In the space of a few days, animals and the people who love them were deprived of two heroes, one beloved worldwide and the other locally. As a final kick in our collective tuchus just to remind us how nasty last year was, Betty White died sometime Dec. 31, the end of the dang year, and Betty wasn’t allowed to celebrate her 100th birthday this month. She was reportedly looking forward to it.
A few days earlier, sometime between Dec. 21 and 22, a pillar of the local pet community lost her life to apparent heart failure. We lost her life, too, although the good works she did as a board member of Friends of Long Beach Animals and a supporter of the Long Beach K9 Officers Association will last.
Maybe not coincidentally, their efforts conflated in 2001 at the dedication ceremony of the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, for which White helped raised funds and where the presence of both women was felt. The Village, located at 7500 E. Spring St., houses both spcaLA and Long Beach Animal Care Services.
This week’s Scratching Post adoption column is in their honor. It features pets of several shelters and rescues that work their passion for animals in the way that White and Vaughan did. You can honor them both by adopting or fostering one of the cats or dogs, or pass the word on about the rescues.
To further honor Shirley Vaughan, donate to Friends of Long Beach Animals. Betty White’s 100th birthday would have been on Jan. 17. To donate in her honor on that day, scroll to the end of this column and chose one (or more) of the rescues there, click the link, and hit the donate button.
Both Vaughan and White’s pawprints are firmly embedded in the heart, soul and structure of Long Beach’s animal shelter, White’s in her fund-raising and support and Vaughan’s in the decades of proactiveness and generosity. Both had an absolute love for animals and worked for their rights and the best possible outcome for each one.
Vaughan cofounded Friends of Long Beach Animal Shelter, later to become Friends of Long Beach Animals, in 1989. Among the goals of the new organization were supporting the needs, medical and otherwise, of the animals in the Long Beach shelter. She was a constant presence at the shelter and spent some time as an employee as well.
Volunteer Susan Schulberg recalled how she and Vaughan would pick out adult cats to display for adoption in a veterinarian’s office, where they allowed kennel space.
“She was so full of life!” added former volunteer Pamala Machado. “The shelter was truly her home. She will be very much missed.”
Author and humane educator Deborah Turner met Betty White at an event several years ago at the city shelter. Both she and White were making an event appearance, Turner with her paraplegic Chihuahua, Wheely Willy of storybook fame.
“As soon as she laid her eyes on my tiny dog, she was smitten,” Turner said. “She asked if she could pick him up and almost simultaneously swooped him up into her arms. With eyes tearing, she said to me, ‘Please tell me not to cry.’”
Arlo could use some of that Vaughan/White wind beneath his haunches. Huskies need space and lots of activity, and Arlo is a typical young husky. He’s 1 year old and very sweet, and he has lots of that energy. He also needs out—he’s been at the shelter since September and is not doing well. He’s very thin. Arlo needs a human with experience with and knowledge about this breed as well as an active lifestyle.
Helen Sanders CatPAWS exists to carry on the memory and works of another animal warrior. Helen Sanders was a familiar fixture as she pedaled her velocipede-like vehicle through Seal Beach to tend to the feral cats who lived among the jetties. At the time of her untimely death from cancer in 2015, the number of sandcats had reduced from about 30 to 8, thanks to Sanders’ spay/neuter efforts and her belief that every feline should have a good life.
CatPAWS’ cofounder, Deborah Felin, greatly admired Betty White’s character and was saddened by her death. “Her body, which is after all, only a machine, wore out as machines do. But she never grew old, retaining a sense of wonder, gentle mischief, hope and compassion throughout her life,” Felin said.
“Shirley was a great help in getting animals adopted to the general public [during her years at the shelter,” Louise Montgomery said. “Coincidentally, Shirley was at the grand opening of SPCALA with Betty White as a guest speaker. If it was Long Beach and anything to do with animals, you could count on Shirley to be there, rain or shine, in sickness or in health. She was always a ray of sunshine, this world was a much better place with her in it.”
Louise Montgomery is part of the Sparky and the Gang team and a longtime volunteer with many things animal. She met Vaughan when she volunteered at Long Beach Animal Care Services and Vaughan was working for the city. Since then, Montgomery had Vaughan’s mentorship in many ways, and the mentorship was reciprocal. Vaughan helped set up Montgomery’s original rescue group Animal Match Rescue Team to air on the bygone The Pet Place television show, and Montgomery worked with Vaughan on many of the Friends of Long Beach Animals fundraising events.
“Heaven has taken an Earth Angel and given her wings,” Montgomery said. “In my broken heart, I know that Shirley and Betty are probably organizing an event to promote kindness towards animals. You can bet that neither of them have a hair out of place.”
spcaLA is a private shelter located on either side of the shelter at the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village that Betty White helped to build.
“Betty White is a beloved friend and partner to spcaLA,” said Ana Bustiloz, spcaLA’s communications and marketing director. “She has been our Friend for Life since the 1940s, and so it was no surprise she came to our aid when we set out to build the Village. She actively fundraised for this groundbreaking endeavor and donated to its construction as well. It was our honor to have Betty present for the Village’s grand opening in 2001.”
Here’s Amy, from spcaLA.
Zazzy Cats is a nonprofit rescue focused on high-risk cats and pregnant momcats-to-be. The rescue is also fundraising for Purr Manor, a cat sanctuary and hospice for cats considered unadoptable and with severe medical issues. Their founder, Roni Naccarato, and their board secretary, Laura Altmann, mourn Vaughan and White and greatly appreciate their impact on animal rescue and welfare.
“Shirley was a big part of saving the lives of many cats in Long Beach,” Naccarato said. “She was extremely helpful to the people in the community with getting their pets the assistance they needed. And Betty White—wow! She’s a big reason why we have such a big animal community in Long Beach.”
“People of all ages have such great love and respect for Betty White’s work as an actor but also admire her work as an animal-welfare advocate,” Altmann added. “She was one of the first celebrities to help put animal rights and welfare in the spotlight. Her passion to help animals has paved the way for many of us who are trying to do our part to help make a difference in rescue.”
Meet one of the little Zazzys: Serj!
“Betty was a trailblazer and brought so much needed light and attention to animal welfare,” said SAFE Rescue Team Founder Markelle Pineda. “One of my favorite quotes: ‘If everyone took personal responsibility for their animals, we wouldn’t have a lot of the animal problems that we do. I’m a big spay-and-neuter supporter. Don’t have babies if you’re not going to take care of those babies. We don’t need more.’”
This is Jimmy. The shelter reached out to us to see if we could help this scared little 9-month-old nugget. We sprung him because some amazing foster said yes, I can take him for a while! (Jimmy also will have no problem hearing with those antennae!)
If anyone goes above and beyond in the spirits of Shirley Vaughan and Betty White, it’s the people from House of Broken Cookies. This rescue takes in only special-needs cats—blind cats, cats with fewer than four limbs, cats with deformities—gets them the specific care they need, and get them adopted! As they said, broken cookies taste as sweet.
“It takes special people with a passion for protecting animals, who have positions of influence within the community to help rescues do what rescues do best, save lives,” says Jenn, the founder. “Special people like Betty White and Shirley Vaughan and their devotion to educate, defend animal welfare and their continuous support of rescues such as ours.” Jenn oughta know—she’s the expert there.
Wrigley Kittens is a group of rescuers, doing the work in the best way possible—through a bunch of independent rescuers, TNR folks and fosters. Their founder, Kelly Lopes, met Shirley Vaughan at the shelter, and Shirley had offered Kelly some help. Kelly introduces the fluffy little Henry.
Just fur fun and fur-ther education
Sound Healing event: 5:30–7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 4, Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, $30.
Anyone who’s had a cat purring on their lap or stomach knows how good those vibrations are. The only cat lounge in Long Beach is upping the healing by presenting a healing sound bath—with cats! As humans work the ancient instruments, kitties will weave around, over and on you as you lie down taking it all in. Wear loose clothing, and bring a face mask, as COVID-19 precautions are enforced there. Order your tickets here.
Help wanted, help given
Feline Good Social Club seeks volunteers
Long Beach’s only special space for frolicking with felines not your own is recruiting volunteers to help care for all the little loungers in the club. Volunteers will help with two-hour shifts from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. A monthly-minimum shift of six hours is required. To be valet to the little stars, email [email protected].
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. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. But before you jump in, consider these steps outlined here. 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 Long Beach 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, etc.
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 p.m., PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach; Petco Marina Shores, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, 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!
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.
- Bunny Bunch
- Cat Cove
- Friends of Long Beach Animals
- Fix Long Beach
- Feline Good Social Club
- Helen Sanders CatPAWS
- 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 & Neuter Foundation
- Newborn Feline Rescue
- Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center
- SAFE Rescue Team
- Seal Beach Animal Care Center
- Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue
- Stray Cat Alliance
- Wrigley Kittens
- Zazzy Cats