Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].

Photo by Kate Karp.

Sherri Stankewitz is the founder of the dog rescue Sparky and the Gang, and with Diana Kliche started the Fix Long Beach clinic dedicated to fixing pets at a low cost and other animal care.

Tim Grobaty: How many dogs have you rescued?

Sherri Stankewitz: Oh, I don’t know exactly. More than 15,000. Some were cats, birds, hamsters.

Q: Who names them? How do you come up with names for thousands of pets? Do you use one of those baby name pamphlets you can buy at the checkout stand?

A: We have those. Sometimes I name them, sometimes the volunteers do. Some people turn them in and they already have names. Sometimes I like to be creative. I like alcohol names like Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels. We do themes, like city and state names. With litters we do them alphabetically, like Abbie, Bruno, Chester… I’ve gotten sick of some of the more common ones like Daisy, Zoey, Max, Rex.

Q: Great. Our mayor has an overused dog name. Has he adopted a pet from you?

A: I don’t think so. [District 8 Councilman] Al Austin has a dog from us, and [5th District Councilwoman] Megan Kerr and her husband have fostered hundreds of puppies for us. She’s fantastic. She’s taken in litter after litter after litter.

Q: What’s your typical day like? I’m guessing it has something to do with dogs.

A: I get up early, feed dogs, go to our clinic and help with our parvo patients. I’m busy all day at the clinic with dogs; I might even spend the night there, but then I have to get up early and go back and feed the dogs. At the clinic we do high-volume, low-cost spaying and neutering and low-cost surgeries. It’s at 1749 Magnolia Ave., in an area that’s becoming a gentrified green area, all the warehouses are turning into marijuana places. We work with Long Beach Animal Care. We do a lot of their spaying and neutering.

Q: How many dogs do you have that are available for rescue?

A: We usually have anywhere from 10 to 25, with another 10 or so in foster care. People turn their dogs in for several reasons; they can’t afford them or they’re moving to a place where they can’t have a dog. Sometimes people have a litter and they’ll surrender a few of the puppies. We’ll treat them and adopt them out. I would never give up a dog. I’d be living in my car first.

Q: Do people bring in any other animals besides dogs?

A: The other day I went to my car and I saw a little shoebox, and it was a box of cute little hamsters. Animal Control took them. Long Beach is a good city for rescues.

Q: Do you have any dogs of your own?

A: I have an Afghan named Bongo and a Las Vegas Chihuahua named Pinky that came into the shelter after someone dumped acid on her.

Q: We got our dogs Jasper and Annie from you.

A: Yes, I remember. I see people all the time who got their dogs from me. I may not remember the people, but I remember the dog. I’ve been at the dog beach and dogs that I’ve rescued have run up to me. Some people have adopted from me more than once. Sometimes I get people who tell me they got a rescue dog and I’ll ask them from which group and they say they don’t remember. That’s one of my peeves. People would remember the rescue group where they got their dog.

Q: Do you have any family that lives with you? Any partner?

A: Nope no partner, it’s all dogs. There are times when I’m like, oh my god, where did time go? I’m 55, which is not that old, but not that young. I just have to say my life is with dogs now. Being around animals is awesome. They’re a wonderful way for you to connect with people who share the same interest in dogs. Throw politics and religion out the window and talk about your animals instead.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.