Two Long Beach nonprofits partner to open new low-cost spay/neuter veterinary clinic

[Disclaimer—nah, brag: The author has volunteered with Fix Long Beach since its establishment.]

Since 2013 Fix Long Beach has been serving area residents with free or low-cost spay/neuter for their pets, vaccinations at a minimal charge and free microchips. Since the all-volunteer organization opened its figurative doors, it’s held mobile clinics in different Long Beach parks and has spayed and neutered over 12,000 cats and dogs and vaccinated and microchipped countless others.

Last summer, Fix Long Beach lead Diana Kliche and Sherri Stankewitz, founder of dog rescue Sparky and the Gang, partnered up and set doggedly to work to open a clinic that had literal doors. With the assistance of a generous grant from Friends of Long Beach Animals to refurbish the building, the two nonprofits took over The Family Vet, a clinic in Central Long Beach, whose owner and lead veterinarian was going into semiretirement. The Family Vet had previously performed a large number of spay/neuter procedures for Long Beach Animal Care Services, so it was all set up for an organization that concentrated its efforts on fixing pets at low cost.

building near parking lot, with the sign "The Family Vet" in the background. glass window in frront, with wooden bars.

Fix Long Beach’s clinic is located at 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach. Photo by Kate Karp

Kliche said that one of the reasons that Fix Long Beach and Sparky and the Gang chose the present location was the lack of animal-care services in the area. The groups met with several council members and staff from the Department of Economic Development, who offered strong support for the project.

“We’ve always had a close partnership with the city, and we’re so lucky to have a brick-and-mortar clinic,” said Kliche. “I think we’re all excited to not be out in the summer heat, having to cancel events because of the cold. In the past, we didn’t have events in January or early February because it was very hard on our volunteers sitting in sleet and rain, and also for the clients themselves and the pets. We don’t have to worry about people bringing a stressed-out cat in a box and then getting out of the box, or a dog getting off the leash and running across the street. And it’s better for their recovery to be in a controlled environment.”

Mobile clinics, Kliche said, were effective but limited in services they could offer. The reorganized clinic will center on Fix Long Beach’s mission of stopping the birth of unwanted animals and continue to offer free microchips and low-cost vaccinations, flea medication and dewormers. With the building already equipped with a surgery room, teeth cleanings, bloodwork and minor surgeries for such things as hernias, cherry eye and dewclaw removal are also available. They’ll also make ferals sterile.

A couple of hires came directly from the rescue community. Feral-cat trapper Jamie Tarantina brought in cats for fixes and wound up working in the office. Office manager Tracy Goutermont is a longtime volunteer for Sparky and the Gang and still assists with the rescue. The biggest challenge for her now, she said, is the software.

wall decoration featuring cats and dogs rendered in black and white cartoons.

The first thing that clients will see is this delightful mural painstakingly rendered by wall artist and, of course, pet rescuer and benefactor Allyson Jones Wong.

 

The partnership put out feelers for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Richard Ceman, DVM, was one successful applicant. Ceman had sold his full-service practice a couple of years ago and found himself twiddling his opposable thumbs. He jumped at the opportunity to perform low-cost spay/neuter procedures.

“It’s a necessary thing for any community, especially Long Beach, because there’s a high demand—there are people that can’t afford regular practice, fees and services,” Ceman said. “If we don’t do it, who will?”

Stankewitz is well known for her 25 years in rescue and her imaginative and often-edgy fundraisers. She’s putting her creativity and experience in marketing to good use as a partner. The new location, she said, is ideal for meet-and-greets between fosters and prospective adopters, and it will serve as a venue for events once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

“I want to focus on getting pets groomed, giving them flea baths—I want to be hands-on like that,” she said. “And I want to help other rescues and people to get their dogs fixed at a low cost. Vets have doubled their prices because of COVID—it’s left a lot of people hanging. I get ‘My vet is charging $600 for a spay,’ and my heart just goes. I get it, everybody needs to make money now, but that money’s a lot [for many people]. Our vets are very, very thorough—they’re looking at every animal, they’re checking their ears, their teeth. And it’s nice to see that people are still willing to pay a little extra for something while the animal is under—teeth cleaning, dewclaw removal.”

In the mobile-clinic days, Fix Long Beach had a sponsorship that allowed them to offer free spay-and-neuter services. When the sponsorship ran out, the nonprofit tried to keep afloat by fundraising and requesting whatever donations the clients could afford. Now, the costs of the upkeep of a brick-and-mortar clinic requires them to charge for services at as low a cost as possible.

“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position where our staff can work for free, and we have overhead on our location, so we have to charge, like most of the other spay-and-neuter clinics,” Kliche said. “But our goal is to keep it low-cost. All of the prices are on our website, and we also have a little area on that page with FAQs, instructions for how to give a dewormer, how to put the flea meds on a pet. A lot of our clients are first-time pet owners, so a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.”

Options exist for residents who cannot pay for fixes and vaxxes.

“We have quite a large following of no-income or homeless individuals who want the best for their pets,” Kliche said. “We’ll have an angel’s fund set up so that our regular clients who can afford to donate can pay it forward to help the people out. We can continue with our low-cost vaccines, flea meds and dewormer, and continue with our grant from Michelson Found Animals to continue free microchips. We ask our clients to donate whatever they can for a microchip—generally, they cost anywhere between $30 and $80.”

Kliche said that with their full-time veterinarians and their vet techs and staff, Fix Long Beach will be able to spay and neuter between 7,000 and 10,000 pets a year instead of the usual 1,200. The present focus is on growing its volunteer base and expanding the organization’s reach and hours to fix even more pets in Long Beach and nearby. Expanded hours will also allow them to bring more spay/neuter-proficient vet techs aboard and either hire veterinarians or welcome those wishing to donate their time. They’re also considering the idea of picking up pets and their humans at certain locations and delivering them home—sort of an UberRover.

“Just the fact that we’re doing spay and neuter, and helping the community, and helping control the pet population makes me glad to be here,” said lead vet tech Alfonso Ruiz. “Just be on time for your appointment so we can get started on time!”

Fix Long Beach is located at 1749 Magnolia Ave. in Long Beach. The clinic is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone who wants to make an appointment can do so here. Email questions about volunteering or their services to [email protected], or visit their Facebook page to send a personal message.

Virtually pets

We did mention a rescue partnership between Fix Long Beach Sparky and the Gang, didn’t we? To adopt any of these furry little fellers, email [email protected].

small white dog with huge ears stares into camera.

Snowflake is a 9-month-old little girl whose owners gave her up because a puppy was just too much for them. If you have what it takes to raise a cute puppy into a lovely lady dog, she’s your match!

 

brown hounlike dog walks on cement, staring balefully into camera.

Adele had a litter of pups, each of whom has gone home, including the little kid tagging along next to her. Now, Athena has empty-nest syndrome. Well, kind of. She’s been fixed and wants a permanent vacation in Paradise—which could be your home!

 

black puppy with tan legs, cheeks and eyebrows and white chest lies on red blanket.

black puppy with tan legs, cheeks and eyebrows sits on red blanket. black puppy with tan legs, cheeks and eyebrows and white chest and paws sits on red blanket.

brown puppy with dark body and white chest sits against a red background

Puppehs, puppehs, puppehs. These four haven’t been named yet, but you can beat Sparky and the Gang to it. The three black doggies are female, and the brown one is male.

 

 Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Courtesy photo

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp: Saturday, April 10, times TBA, online event, register here

Like the graphic says, spring forward—like any cat! Join Jackson Galaxy and his coterie of cat-loving camp counselors for a springtime celebration of all things cat: enrichment for your cats at home—clicker and harness training, for instance, environmental enrichment, care for community cats, kittens, fostering, fundraising, and so much more! After the talks, we’re having an After-Pawty full of cat-themed fun! Our Cat Camp Counselors are super-excited to hang out with you, both on video and chat!

Help wanted, help given

Get lucky this month with a lower-cost Fix Long Beach spay or neuter!

It’s St. Paddypaws day all March! The first 300 to email Fix Long Beach and mention the code in their email will get pot o’gold in the form of a special discount rate because we love your pets! Book online at Fix Long Beach’s website with the code on the flyer, and mention the flyer in the comments section!

Feline Good Social Club needs willing subjects for its bewhiskered nobility

Feline Good Social Club has opened and is running and knocking things off shelves. The cat curators would love some volunteers for their furry residents. Want to be part of a kowtowing staff to cats because everyone knows that cats expect it? Email [email protected].

Fix Long Beach now open: 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 has begun, and soon, shelters and rescues will be 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 are 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

bags and bags and pallets and pallets of pet food sit in a parking lot.

The Little Lion Foundation’s Free Pet Care Day: Saturday, March 13, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Long Beach Masonic Lodge, 3610 Locust Ave., free

“One of the most heartbreaking parts of this pandemic is that although people love their furry companions, the pandemic has made it very difficult for them to provide proper care,” said Claudia Otis, founder and owner of The Little Lion Foundation. “With the public’s help, The Little Lion Foundation will facilitate the care of people’s pets during this perilous time.” The organization is hosting a drive-thru food-and-supply giveaway on a first-come, first served basis. Free vaccines, microchips and flea medication for cats and dogs will be conducted by appointment only. Long Beach residents will be prioritized for available appointments. Additionally, the foundation is calling for help from donors and supporters to help purchase and provide food and supplies. If you can offer help, contact The Little Lion Foundation at [email protected].

Pets of the Homeless’ 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.

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave.

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St.

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

CATastic adoption opportunity!

Adopters who march forth and take home the first 10 cats from The Little Lion Foundation throughout the actual month of March will pay no adoption fee! The generous volunteers at Friends of Long Beach Animals will pick up the tab—all you have to do is pick up the cat! Click Little Lion’s link to see the cats waiting to go home. March is a great time to adopt a cat or kitten from our friends at The Little Lion Foundation! FOLBA will pay the adoption fees for you for the first 10 cats adopted in March. What are you waiting for?

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 loveables

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions, but 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.

 

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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.”
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