How volunteers work the real magic for shelter pets, plus see cats for adoption in Long Beach

Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) volunteers and Foster2Furever founder Jeanne Perales recently made the following social-media plea for the shelter’s animals:

How can you help?

LBACS volunteers are formidable in their determination to socialize animals and show people that every one is adoptable in some way, even if they’re missing a limb or an eye or have a quirk or three. Unfortunately, the volunteers are spread awfully thin, and the shelters are filling up.

Last Friday’s Scratching Post focused on the creative ways that Helen Sanders CatPAWS creates volunteers and also emphasized the pressing need for them in shelters and rescues everywhere.

The rush to adopt during the pandemic has tapered to a trickle. Though it’s questionable whether adopters are returning their “pandemic pets” in droves, it’s a given that people are surrendering their pets because of lost jobs, deaths in families where surviving members don’t have the means or desire to care for the animals, and loss of their homes or relocating to a new one where pets aren’t welcome.

Even with the ongoing efforts to trap and alter cats on the streets, in parks and anywhere that isn’t a dwelling, felines are as prolific as ever and kittens are coming into shelters and rescues by the armload.

With a limited staff and so many animals, it’s up to volunteers to make the difference between an unsocialized cat or dog in a kennel and one that’s ready for a forever home. Shelter volunteers take dogs out of their kennels and walk and exercise them, hold and cuddle frightened and needy cats, clean up dog poop and scoop litter boxes, and endlessly post photos, videos and bios of every new resident.

Shelter volunteers who remained as active as possible during the pandemic recently took the time to contact former volunteers and invite them to come back in person. But it didn’t pan out, whether from lack of desire, nervousness about COVID-19 or changes in life circumstances.

“It was clear that we’d have to open our new volunteer program safely with regards to COVID,” shelter manager Staycee Dains said.

Dains said that LBACS is in the process of hiring a volunteer coordinator and putting together a new orientation. She said that seasoned volunteers will be instrumental in its development and implementation. That’s another good thing about volunteering—skilled volunteers have the knowledge, experience and devotion essential to any successful teacher.

Adoption by appointment

Social-distancing precautions have resulted in shelters nationwide conducting adoptions through appointment only instead of allowing people to come in and walk around the grounds. Making these appointments has been a bone of contention and a furball of frustration for potential adopters, who have expressed their displeasure at meetings and on social media.

Granted, it’s easier to show up at the shelter during open hours and meet the pets than to look for and find contact information and wait for a response. But Dains said that having more people than usual in the facility can be a source of stress and overstimulation to the animals. She added that not all visitors came to adopt, and the staff and volunteers often had to scramble to help those who wanted to see the pets.

“Appointments help us manage the flow of people to ensure every visitor gets the assistance they need,” Dains said. “This has resulted in more adoptions.”

LBACS has also begun offering more in-person opportunities to meet pets. The shelter’s glampy Adoption Waggin’ is presently making bimonthly appearances in public venues and at special events. LBACS recently held an open house run by staff members and volunteers, and Dains expects to increase the number of in-person options when shelter staff increases.

“Our staffing situation at this time is extremely low, and we are recruiting and hiring,” she said. “Once our team is staffed appropriately—likely within the next four to eight weeks—we hope to hold more open house days for adoptions and fosters.”

Virtually pets

The black cat has long been a Halloween icon, but every cat carries something mystical in its bones. Legend gave the tortoiseshell her colors (most torties and calicos use the female pronoun; only about one in 3,000 is male) when she hosted the sun on her back and the heavenly body left its heavenly colors on her fur. More fearsome than Krampus, the Icelandic child-snacking Jólakötturinn has appeared in several different colors in illustrations. Most of the Hogwarts cats aren’t black, either.

And so, as a pre-Halloween feature, we’re proud to present our shelter’s very magickal varicolor kitties, all ready to go home. Their volunteer human familiars, Janet and Susan, will be their voices.

A Siamese cat played the role of Pyewacket, familiar of witch Gillian Holroyd in both the film and original live-theater productions of “Bell, Book and Candle.” Levi, like the original Pyewacket, lives on his own terms. He’s an affectionate fellow, but he wants no truck with children or other animals. Make Levi your sole soulmate!

The original Cheshire Cat appeared in Sir John Tenniel’s “Alice in Wonderland” as a huge tabby cat who famously gave us the truism “Most everyone’s mad here.” Peppa isn’t full grown and he is indeed all there, unlike his disappearing counterpart, but no matter how big he gets, you’ll still see his eyes and smile when the lights are off. Or you’ll hear that smile as a big purr.

No matter what, orange cats are special. Hermione Granger thought so when she picked hissy hero Crookshanks, a cranky fellow whom no one wanted, from Magical Menagerie in the Harry Potter series. Two of them present themselves here: Chester, who’s just beginning his journey, and dear Utah who was found—I’m sorry, I can’t resist—in a horrible state.

Fostering a pet is another way to help ease shelter burden by making room for another animal. It also gives the animal, albeit temporarily—maybe—the best possible environment possible. LBACS doesn’t have an official foster program, but many of the shelter pets may be taken home on a foster basis. See all the shelter pets here, and make an appointment to adopt or foster one by contacting the shelter at [email protected] or 562-570-7387.

Things that go bump in the night (no fear—it’s the cat knocking the phone off the nightstand again)

Howloween Hoedown: 4–9 p.m, Saturday, Oct. 23, Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, suggested $25 donation.

Bring your doggies and yourself and have a great time in absolute hounds of Hellish fashion!

There will be vegan goodies and a dessert bar, sounds from the great Corday, trick-or-treat (mainly treat) swag bag for you and your costumed pooch and a live marionette show. What’s scarier than clowns but people dancing on strings into your face? Reserve a table by contacting [email protected].

 Little Lion Foundation Halloween photo and adoption event: 11 a.m.–3 p.m, Sunday, Oct. 24, Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, suggested $20 donation per photo; adoption fees vary.

The Long Beach cat rescue The Little Lion Foundation offers a great get-together for you and your willing pet. You can adopt a Little Lion kitty at the event and begin filling your phone with cute-cat photos right away! A separate area for photos is available so that only one family will be there at a time and the models aren’t distracted by the other dogs and adoptable kitties—and vice versa. Remember to bring your costumed pal.

Haute Dogs Howl’oween Parade: 12:30 p.m. until the last pumpkin drops, Sunday, Oct. 31, Marina Vista Park, 5355 E. Eliot St., Long Beach, registration and seat-purchase information here.

The world’s largest Halloween pet event, according to those in the know, is back. There are all kinds of prizes for humans and dogs along with an adoption fair, a vendor fair and of course, the parade with over 450 dogs, including floats.

Spectators are welcome—you can bring your own chair and watch for free or reserve one for $10. This event also has the world’s largest set of details, so please click the link above for all of them. Note: Haute Dogs’ policy is to treat people with honor, dignity and respect regardless of their beliefs, gender, age, race, creed, sexual orientation, special needs and ethnicity. In this respect, no Native American costumes will be permitted.

Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Benny the Cat, Long Beach’s poster kitty for abuse, makes the big time!

Long Beach’s own Benny has taken fourth place in Catster Magazine‘s America’s Favorite Pet Contest. Fourth best? Furballs! Beverly Leifer knows different!

Benny was turned in to Long Beach Animal Care Services three years ago when he was a horribly abused 7-month-old kitten. Leifer, a confirmed local cat person, fell madly in love with him and decided to save his life and give him a real one. She joined forces with Helen Sanders CatPAWS and shelter staff members to heal Benny as much as possible, and he finally went to his forever home with Leifer. Read his story here, as told in The Scratching Post.

Benny now has his own social-media pages and has celebrated three fundraiser birthdays to help other cats live a life like his. His latest gig is an appearance in Catster, formerly Cat Fancy. The magazine’s new format is now far less sniffy about breeds of cats and informative about issues surrounding all cats, like what their body language tells you, the best CBD oil for their health, how to get rid of litter-box stench (I’m studying that one now) and what in Bastet’s name are those silly creatures thinking?

Pit Bull Appreciation Day: 10a.m.–3p.m., Saturday, Oct. 23, Marina Vista Park, 5355 E. Eliot St., Long Beach, free to attend.

Blockhead Brigade presents this great day for an underappreciated dog breed that’s actually gaining more and more love every minute. Check out Blockhead Brigade’s Facebook page to see the neat prizes, activities and other features. Have fun with raffles, good food, merchandise that’s sure to appeal, and great coffee.

Get your adora-bull’s handsome mug photographed at the photography booth, watch agility events and adopt your first pittie or a buddy for a dog you already have—Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’ will be at the park with adopta-bulls! They will check for microchips as well.

And remember to enter the Pose with Your Pittie photo contest by emailing a photo of you and your bubbie to [email protected]. Remember to include your name. You’re invited to bring your own pal to the event no matter what breed or breeds they are, but please, no dog intros! The event has a lot of stimulation, so social distancing for doggies is required.

Pit Bull Appreciation Day is open to dogs of all breeds and mixes and focuses on advocating for the blocky of head by celebrating our love for them, promoting them for adoption, discouraging discrimination and encouraging good stewardship and treatment. An apprecia-bull effort!

Best Friends’ Strut Your Mutt fundraising event: details and events here

Ready to start building a team or just strut your stuff solo? Best Friends, a nationwide organization whose intent is to save every animal life possible, has started its registration for its Oct. 23 Strut Your Mutt Day virtual walk. The goal is to raise $2 million for both the organization and animal shelters and rescues nationwide.

Access this link for instructions on how to build your team or register yourself, and participate in virtual events such as pig yoga and meeting the animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as you move along the time line. Mutts and all manner of mammals will thank you!

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

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.

Calendars: 365 days of furry love

2022 Seal Beach Animal Care Center Calendar Contest: entries and votes accepted through 11:59 p.m., Oct. 22, enter here

It only costs $1 to enter your cat or dog into SBACC’s contest. Votes start at $1, with a five-vote minimum. You enter and vote for your best friend and then encourage your family and friends to cast votes for them. People can vote as many times as they want!

Two separate calendars, one for the cats and one for the dogs, will feature your pets, and the 13 dogs and 13 cats with the most votes will be showcased in the calendars, with the top vote-getter of each species as the cover guy or grrrrl. Thumbnail photos of all entrants will be featured in the calendars, even if the pets are not in the top 13.

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? Thinking about 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). How about delivering pet food to needy shelters? Or assembling do-it-yourself newborn-kitten-care kits, and maybe bottle-feeding a few? Would you take on kennel-cleaning? If so, please 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 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

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 and 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, 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’ 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. 7th 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 9–11 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. 3rd St., Long Beach. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

 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—of course, ”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 Hwy., third Saturday of every month between 1 p.m. 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 their 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 the kittens popping up during kitten season. All of the organizations listed below desperately needs fosters who will social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about not being ready for a new roommate.

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.


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.”