The Scratching Post is a weekly newsletter from pets columnist Kate Karp, bringing you all the latest news on pet adoptions, animal welfare and ways to get involved.

Dr. Melanie Wagner was recently appointed as manager of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Courtesy photo.

Dr. Melanie Wagner has been working hard at managing Long Beach Animal Care Services since she took up the reins — or maybe the leash — in June. I’d about forgotten that she was still interim manager until I got the memo that she was officially appointed as manager on Jan. 31.

“I take my work very seriously,” Wagner said. “It’s not the descriptor — ‘interim’ or ‘permanent’ — that saves lives or supports staff. Animal care and community wait for no one!”

Wagner joined LBACS IN May 2023 as superintendent and assumed the interim position in June when bureau manager Staycee Dains departed for the challenges of Los Angeles Animal Services. When I interviewed her in August, she enthusiastically described her goals for continuing shelter improvement.

“The big one for me is spay and neuter,” Wagner said. “It’s part of the municipal code, but outside of that, it is important to me that we fix everything!  I’m excited to sunset the Home First program.”

The Home First program sent home unaltered animals with adopters and posters to quickly clear the shelter without euthanizing healthy pets. It did go against the state code, but it was crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, not just at LBACS but at other shelters. Now, the staff is busy clearing the backlog of unfixed Home First pets, which Wagner said is a priority. Weekly mobile spay/neuter clinics held through partnerships with Helen Sanders Cat Paws, CAMP and Amazing Small Animal Practice have been vital here. 

New hires have eased the stress on staff and volunteers, both before and after Wagner joined LBACS. The rehoming team now comprises a behavior-enrichment, transport and rescue coordinator — all positions handled by one superhuman; two adoption coordinators; a foster coordinator; and a data analyst whose duties include streamlining the voucher program for more efficient distribution. And at last, a volunteer coordinator has come aboard.

“This is a big, big hire,” Wagner said. “Volunteers are the backbone of our operations — they provide enrichment and care. That means designing and running a structured and dynamic volunteer program.”

The volunteer program has been closed to new applicants, but since the hire, applications will be accepted around the second week of March. People interested in joining the dedicated team should email [email protected] or apply here in mid-March. Wagner looks forward to filling all remaining vacancies to ease pressure on the staff, which has been rough.

“The other thing that’s rough is the low adoption numbers for large dogs,” Wagner said. “We have so many wonderfully friendly large dogs, and they don’t get adopted as quickly as small dogs or puppies. I really want to find a solution for that, because the big dogs deteriorate in kennels. We have fabulous dogs that deserve to live their lives in the community with a family.”

Sounds like a huge bully stick to chew, but Wagner’s enthusiasm matches her accomplishments and goals.

“I love my work, I love our team, and I love our volunteers!” she said. “And of course, I love our animals! I think we can make our shelter a model for other shelters.”

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Pets to adopt or foster

Spay/neuter is an excellent way to keep LBACS from overflowing with pets — dogs especially. The other way to help is by adopting or fostering. To rescue or foster any of these pets or others on the Adoption page, contact the shelter at 562-570-3080 or [email protected]. Better yet, come visit Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Long Beach Animal Care Services is located at 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park. No parking fee for shelter visitors.


One thing about 3-year-old Misty (ID#A700148) is that she’s not as helpless as a kitten up a tree. She’s the queen bee of the shelter, as the adoring cat volunteers call her. Volunteer Janet refers to her as a “red tortie,” and like Lucy Ricardo, the ultimate redhead, she’s rowdy and wants her own way. She socializes with other cats on the shelter catio and only whacks at them when they get between her and a treat. Misty should probably be an only cat. She loves being loved, but on her own terms. She’ll let you know when she’s had enough.


Mosley (ID#A700728) is a cuddly, little 2-year-old pittie or mix thereof. He came in as a stray in June, so he’s one of the shelter’s longest-staying dogs. None of his fan club of volunteers can figure out why he hasn’t gone home yet. He’s playful, gentle, agile and, as you can see, affectionate. He’ll fit right into your home — one volunteer calls him an apartment-size dog — and your heart.


Of course, it has to be said that Roxanne (ID#A702202), 2 years old, doesn’t have to wear that dress tonight or at any time because she has that glossy, gunmetal-gray coat. All she needs to complete that outfit are a collar, a harness, an ID tag and a strong leash when she goes on long walks, which she loves to do. She’s eager to please, loyal and affectionate — in fact, the volunteers have loved her since they knew her. And so will you!

Pet events and announcements

February low-cost dental clinic at Fix Long Beach

Get out the fangpaste, Fluffy and Fido! For the remainder of February, Fix Long Beach is offering $100 off dental services, starting at $599. The service doesn’t include add-on extractions while under anesthetic for spay/neuter procedures. All dogs and cats 7 years or older are required to have pre-appointment bloodwork and urine checks. Make your appointment here.