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Foster a dog for 'Foster the 4th'

How to keep your own pets protected from pyrotechnic panic.

Foster a dog for 'Foster the 4th'
Gumbo is all dressed up for the First District’s Vito’s Dog Parade on Independence Day! Adopt him from our shelter, and maybe take him with! Photo courtesy of Long Beach Animal Care Services
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During the weeks before and after July 4, Long Beach Animal Care Services’ dog kennels become inundated with lost, frightened pets — mostly dogs — who’ve fled in terror from fireworks noise.

In 2016, a grassroots partnership with LBACS, called Foster the 4th, temporarily emptied LBACS’ kennels of dogs and a few cats by mobilizing community members to foster the pets for a few weeks. The project was led by Live Love Animal Rescue founder Emily Ann Peters.

“I was already intercepting dogs at my house around the Fourth of July,” Peters said. “The shelter would call and say, ‘We have three on the truck and no kennel space to hold them for a day.’ That’s where it started.”

Foster the 4th was a success. The kennels were cleared, scores of dogs were fostered, and some didn’t make it back in the best possible way. LBACS has repeated Foster the 4th every year thereafter except during the COVID lockdown. 


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This year, Fix Long Beach has taken 15 Foster the 4th dogs into its facility at 1749 Magnolia Ave. in Long Beach, which has eased the strain.

Kahlua, whose name is a perfect description for her lovely fur color, is one of the dogs temporarily sheltered at Fix Long Beach. She was found abandoned on a city street. Pop in to meet all the pups.

This year is particularly critical for making room because LBACS is over capacity with dogs. Temporary fostering will ease overcrowding, making room for dogs and cats that come in because of fireworks flight. Best of all, pets will get needed and much deserved breaks from kennels.

Foster the 4th kicked off June 23, which was announced in Tail-waggin’ and nose-boopin’ events during the past couple of weeks. However, you can still foster a pup before the actual holiday. Here’s how it works: 

  • Submit a foster application online right away.
  • Make an appointment to come in July 2. Email petfoster@longbeach.gov
  • Commit to fostering a pet for a minimum of 30 days. Yes, you can keep them longer, and if it really works out, you can make it forever.
  • Keep the foster pet separate from other animals in the home. This prevents diseases and ensures that all pets are safe.
  • Provide regular communication, including updates, photos and videos, with the foster coordinator and/or LBACS staff.

Selected fosters will receive any necessary veterinary care; all food and supplies such as bowls, beds, litter pans and crates; and foster guides and resources to help make the home transition smooth. 

Meanwhile, the shelter staff will be hard at work looking for the families of the pets who came in.

This will be a win for everyone, and yes, you can apply to adopt the pet. Did I just say that? Yes, I think I did.

As for the blasted — pun intended — fireworks …

Fireworks for personal use are illegal in Long Beach. There, I’ve said it. And a lot of people don’t care. 

“We take fireworks very seriously because every year, Long Beach hospital emergency rooms see serious injuries that result from the discharge of illegal fireworks,” Long Beach city prosecutor Doug Haubert said. “Usually, it is the person who tried to light the fireworks or someone who was close by. The effect on animals and veterans suffering from PTSD is more severe than most people think. Not all animals have a severe reaction, but many dogs do, and it is comparable to torture for them. Some military veterans also say the sound and smells from fireworks cause them to experience flashbacks. I wish people would consider this in addition to the fire damage that could result from illegal fireworks.”

So do the rest of us. It’s up to us to report illegal fireworks use and protect our pets. Haubert said to download the free GoLongBeach app if you haven’t already. A couple of years ago, the city added fireworks to the issue category, so residents can report the location of the blasts and upload video evidence.

“That helps city staff track where fireworks are discharged, but it does not trigger a law enforcement response,” Hauber said. “So, anyone who witnesses the discharge of illegal fireworks as it is happening can call the police line at (562) 435-6711.”

Protecting your pets

  • Get your pet microchipped to supplement the ID tags that include your name and current telephone number. Even if your dog or cat is secured in the house, a determined, large animal can panic and break through a window. Microchips, the best hope for a safe return, are available for purchase at veterinary offices and at LBACS low-cost vaccine clinics.
  • Keep pets confined to a secure area indoors. Keep windows closed and blinds drawn, and check for possible escape areas. Don’t tether your pet outdoors, as it may lead to injury or accidental death if a firework goes off. If you’re out for a walk, use a secure harness.
  • Stay with your buddy if possible. If you leave the house, tune the TV or radio to something calming, like soft jazz or classical music. Some Rover roommates like to put Thundershirts on their dogs, and some cats will agree to wear them. The shirts simulate hugs and increase security.
  • If your pet is uncontrollable or overstressed, ask your vet for medication or for a recommendation for something over the counter. Don’t use human meds, please.
  • Do not bring your pet to a fireworks display or any area where they’re blasted. They will not enjoy it. Many are the Nextdoor postings of dogs either lost or found on the beach after fireworks have been set off.
  • LBACS’ Fourth of July page suggests resources for finding lost pets. Make the shelter your first stop if that should happen. With a microchip, they’ll likely be way ahead of you.

“One of our main priorities is to ensure that people and pets stay together,” said Melanie Wagner, Long Beach Animal Care Services bureau manager. “Pets separated from their families can be devastating for everyone involved. It can happen at any time, but especially during firework season. I encourage people to prepare their pets now by getting microchips, having current tags and also familiarizing themselves with the other pets in their community. Often, an animal's best chance of getting reunited is by the people in our own neighborhoods.”

For more information on Foster the 4th, visit the LBACS Fourth of July webpage.

Ruby’s next chapter

Ruby, the Gatsby bookstore kitty, was slightly irritated at being interrupted from her reading, but she accepted a chin rub from me. Photo by Kate Karp

After 14 years of supplying literature lovers with books, Gatsby Books is on its final pages. The store will likely close on June 30, although assistant bookworm Danny said that, with the vast inventory yet to be sold, it may continue doing business into July. Everything’s 70% off, be it book or bibelot, but a visit will also give you a chance to give Ruby, the iconic bookstore cat, a scritch on the chops.

If you’re wondering what Ruby’s next chapter will be, she’s going home with Mary, a manager at Gatsby. The silver tabby installed herself in the store when Gatsby opened its doors in 2010. She’s been the Gatsby cat for the full 14 years. Danny said that Ruby’s likely older than 14, so she’ll welcome her years of retirement. 

Gatsby’s will be open at least until the end of June, but the enormous inventory may keep them going until sometime in July. So, buy a book and bid fond farewell to Ruby, the much-beloved bookstore cat.

Yours drooly

Scratch This! would like to boost the effort to empty LBACS’ kennels by featuring available fosters. Of course, no one will object to you making the situation permanent. Submit an application to foster, and then schedule a foster appointment for July 2 by emailing PetFoster@longbeach.gov. Of course, you can always drop by the shelter during business hours and meet all the pets in person. Our shelter hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 7700 E. Spring St. at the entrance to El Dorado Park (no parking fee for shelter visitors.  

Amber Rood Durfee, LBACS volunteer and Greta Gerwig to the resident doggies, has put together this stylish video that explains Foster the 4th and shows you the cast of characters. 

Here are a few videos, courtesy of Amber.

Tuxedo Joe (ID#A718919) is no elitist snob despite his eveningwear. He loves everyone, leaning on them for affection. He can play fetch for hours, with all the enthusiasm of the year-old adolescent that he is! Watch the latest show starring Tuxedo Joe!

As you see from the feature photo, Gumbo (ID# A705236) is a fool for dress-up. Check him out as the Easter Bunny in the video! Gumbo’s a silly, friendly fellow that loves all volunteers and is always up for a walk. As of August, he’ll have been in a kennel for a year. Give him a break!

Although Zoe (ID# A717007) is curious about the other doggies in the play yard, she loves to play fetch and will respond to commands, especially if a treat is in the offing. She’s 5 years old and at that stage of life when she’d just like to relax — and she does! She’ll drop off right on your lap!

Check out the following links on the shelter’s adoption page for “fosterable” doggies!

Tail-waggin’ and nose-boopin’ events

LBACS and CAMP low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics

Our city shelter, Long Beach Animal Care Services, has teamed up with CAMP (Community Animal Medicine Project) to bring weekly affordable vaccine clinics to pet parents because every pet deserves to be happy and healthy. The clinics will offer vaccines and treatments such as Bordetella, anti-flea/tick, and rabies, which is a requirement for all dogs and cats four months or older as stated in Long Beach Municipal Code 6.12.110. The clinics also offer microchips, which are essential for identification if your pet should run off or become lost, particularly during the July 4 season. Clinics open to the first 60 pets, no appointment necessary. All are welcome, whether you’re within or outside of the shelter’s contract cities. Remember to have your dog on a strong leash and your cat in a carrier, and please bring your pet’s vaccine records. Access this link for dates, locations and times of clinics and other LBACS events; visit CAMP’s website for a full list of vaccines and wellness treatments offered at each clinic. This effort is part of LBACS’s Compassion Saves model to improve and enhance the quality of life for all pets in the community.

Clinics take place every Monday, second Friday, and fourth Friday of the month, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach (no parking fee for shelter visitors). No clinics Labor Day, Sept. 2. Additional clinics will take place at one of the city’s contract cities, Signal Hill, at the Signal Hill Public Library parking lot, 1800 E. Hill St., Signal Hill, on the following dates and times:

  • Saturday, June 29, 8 am.–noon
  • Friday, July 19, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 17, 8 a.m.–noon

Third annual Vito’s Dog Parade for Independence Day

Whether you dress up your doggies in their patriotic best or just let them be their furry selves, sign them up here to walk in District 1’s Independence Day Vito’s Dog Parade! You come too, of course. Meet representatives from military-veteran organizations and pet rescues and shelters! No doggie? Adopt one from Long Beach Animal Care Services or Sparky and the Gang! All dogs must be leashed and under control, and up to date on their vaccines, and humans must keep their pets with them at all times and be ready to clean up after them, so pack the poop bags.

The parade takes place Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m.–noon at Lincoln Park, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach.

TNR Action, Education, and Awareness Group meeting

Do you do TNR (trap/spay-neuter-vaccinate-microchip-release of stray cats) with a passion but want to share resources with and get support from an equally engaged community? Are momcats having kittens in your neighborhood, and are dadcats yowling at them to make more? Are you on your last shred of yarn trying to figure out what you can do? Get some answers at this grassroots meeting, the first in Long Beach to focus on combining forces to humanely stop the birthing of unwanted kittens in the urban wild. Speakers will include rescues, experienced trappers, and Long Beach Animal Care Services staff members, in particular LBACS cat coordinator Lindsie Merrick.

The group meeting will take place Saturday, June 29, 2–4 pm at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park. No parking fee for shelter guests.

Mia’s Drag Queen Bingo Fundraiser, presented by The Little Lion Foundation and Friends of Long Beach Animals

Hey! Look what the cat dragged in again! Another fun-in-fundraiser event presented by two venerable Long Beach animal-welfare organizations and hosted by the mostest hostess Mia Anastasia Farrow! Enjoy shredding your bingo cards while lapping cocktails and munching on the tasty food from The Carvery. Your ticket includes five rounds of bingo (extra cards available) and batting conversations around with animal-loving drag performers. The entire club has been reserved for hoomin zoomies, and all proceeds go toward supporting cat rescue! The party is suggested for ages 15 and up — reserve your tickets below.

Mia’s Drag Queen Bingo will take place Saturday, July 13, 6 p.m.–9 p.m. at the At the Top Nightclub in Downtown Long Beach, 105 W. Broadway, Long Beach. Tickets are $30 and available at this Eventbrite link.

Need a low-cost veterinarian, information about trapping community cats, places to volunteer — anything pet related? Follow this link for resources. Please add your own ideas in the Comments section.

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