Arts & Life

Friends of Long Beach Animals helps animals and pet owners in the Long Beach community

Walking through an animal shelter, visitors can see how many dogs and cats are looking for safe and loving homes. Fortunately, people dedicate time to helping take care of these animals and getting them adopted.

Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) volunteers do that and more.

As a non-profit organization, FOLBA works to keep animals out of shelters and provide help and education to the community for 31 years. The organization hosts fundraisers and raises money to support sheltered animals in the city of Long Beach.

Recently, FOLBA held a pet food drive to provide support to community members so they can obtain food for their pets during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also help with other services as well, like providing financial assistance for people to adopt animals from rescues and the Long Beach shelter.

FOLBA offers classes to teach Long Beach residents how to care for their animals.
In the past, FOLBA has offered classes to teach Long Beach residents how to care for their animals. Photo credit: Tin Huynh

As a non-profit, the people who dedicate their time to the organization are volunteers. John Gonzales, Shirley Vaughn, and Nona Daly, the founders of FOLBA, have built a reputation in the Long Beach community.

Following in their footsteps, a new generation has taken over to continue the work that FOLBA does.

Lauren Campbell, president of FOLBA, and Larry Blunden, treasurer, are both passionate about the organization and the work they do to provide help for animals in need.

Campbell is proud of what the organization has been able to accomplish, even throughout the pandemic.

“I think the food drive was an amazing event for us because I think that we gave 9 tons of food to people who really needed it,” Campbell said. “That was a proud moment for me personally, that we were able to pull that off and we actually got all of that food donated for free.”

Blunden shared that one thing the organization does that touches his heart is supporting homeless individuals who have dogs and can’t afford veterinarian treatment.

“It was a few weeks ago, we found a homeless lady with a dog that she had, with an ear infection,” he said. “We were able to take the dog up to the clinic and we were able to take care of the dog and her.”

Along with all of their success this year, there still have been some lingering troubles caused by the pandemic.

The shelter is full of pets that have been dropped off after people realized that they couldn’t afford to continue their care.

“One of the things we really want to hone in on moving forward is the importance of pet insurance,” Campbell said. “So people don’t run into financial disaster, and that they aren’t able to take care of their animals because they’re just like your kids.”

In October, FOLBA partnered with Subaru of Long Beach to put on “Make a Dog’s Day with Subaru”, which resulted in 32 dogs being adopted.
In October, FOLBA partnered with Subaru of Long Beach to put on “Make a Dog’s Day with Subaru”, which resulted in 32 dogs being adopted. Photo credit: Tin Huynh

The organization relies on donations, which have slowed because of the pandemic, and it has also been difficult to organize and fundraise.

“We’ve actually kind of postponed a lot of our events because this new delta virus is coming up,” Blunden said. “We’re waiting to see how next year moves this whole thing because we just don’t want to put people in jeopardy.”

In October, they partnered with Subaru of Long Beach to put on “Make a Dog’s Day with Subaru” where FOLBA helped pay for all the adoption fees at the shelter.

Blunden said that at the event, around 32 dogs and 50 cats were adopted. The next project with Subaru will be a “Share the Love” event where a portion of funds when someone purchases a car will go to FOLBA to continue their work.

Friends of Long Beach Animals also used to teach classes to students in the Long Beach Unified School District on how to take care of pets, be kind to them, and respect them.

Due to the pandemic, these programs were paused, but FOLBA is working on another way to educate the community.

Currently, they are developing a video project for education that they will share with the school district.

“That’s one of our big projects we’re working on, we’re also putting that on our website and trying to get it onto YouTube as well,” Blunden said. “One of our members, Tom Hanberg, is working [on it] he knows how to do all that stuff and he’s doing a great job with it.”

Campbell and Blunden said that Cal State Long Beach students can support FOLBA by adopting and fostering animals if they can.

Another way to support the organization is to donate money or old bottle feeders to Long Beach Animal Care Services to help kittens at the shelter.

FOLBA is also looking for volunteers who want to help and are trying to reach younger audiences through their social media.

Friends of Long Beach Animals has volunteers that love what they do and hope animals in the shelter find a forever home.

“I love to see the animals go to a good home or getting fostered and adopted, just gives you a good feeling that you made a difference,” Campbell said.

To learn more about Long Beach Animal Services, visit https://daily49er.com/special-projects/student-choice-awards-winner/2021/11/15/long-beach-animal-care-services-is-the-perfect-place-to-find-a-new-furry-friend/

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