Shelter rescue takes residence as a First Canine • Lengthy Seashore Publish Information


DHA shelter projects manager Steph Carter has a big hug for Major on the day of his official adoption. Photo courtesy of DHA

The White House has been home to a variety of presidential pets, possibly rivaled only by Noah’s Ark. Cats of all stripe; dogs of all spot; plus silkworms, goats and horses; caged birds; raccoons; hamsters and rats; bunnies; squirrels; lizards; chickens and turkeys; a couple of ill-advised choices like grizzly bear cubs, wallabies and tigers, all of which were gifts and were promptly delivered to zoos or “museums”; a cussing parrot; and one trick pony, owned by Zachary Taylor.

Never, however, has 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue been graced by the presence of a shelter dog, until now. There have been rescues from the street, notably Yuki, whom Luci Baines Johnson found abandoned in a gas station and who used to enjoy howling duets with papa Lyndon; and Socks, the adorable tuxedo who jumped into Chelsea Clinton’s arms when she was leaving her piano teacher’s house. He went on with Chelsea, Hillary and Bill to shed on the White House’s plush chairs. Yes, cats can be opportunists, and bully for them.

Major Biden, though, is the first rescue that came from a shelter, and a very fine shelter it is. The Bidens already had a dog, Champ, a German shepherd whom they got from a breeder, and he was getting a little gray around the muzzle. In 2018, Joe Biden wanted to get him a buddy to liven his life up, and he hoped to find another German shepherd. The Bidens’ daughter Ashley alerted her dad to some fragile shepherd pups at the Delaware Humane Association (DHA), a no-kill shelter in Wilmington.

low-lying building with a glass door. A rainbow arcs over it against a cloudy sky

The Delaware Humane Society is located right across from the Amtrak train station that was named for Joe Biden. Photo by Stephanie Gomez, DHA shelter projects manager.


The then-former vice president, far more woke to shelter pets by now, picked up one of the puppies as a foster. Of course, as we say, you know what happened. Biden returned to DHA on Nov. 17, 2018,  to officially make Major a part of the family.

When Joe Biden became president, the biografurs wasted no time in writing “Champ and Major: First Dogs,” a children’s book featuring the FDOGUSes in which the more experienced Champ showed bumptious puppy Major how to be a diplomatic dog. According to Michael LaRosa, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s press secretary, Champ and Major Biden took residence at the White House last Sunday.

“The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware,” LaRosa said. “Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loves running around on the South Lawn.”

Now, Major Biden has the distinction of being the first shelter pet in the White House, and he won’t be the last.

“We have heard the Biden family is interested in adopting a cat as well,” said Cory Topel, DHA’s marketing manager. “We don’t know if that will be from us at DHA (although we would love it!), but we hope they choose to adopt from a shelter again.”

black German shepherd leaves low-lying brick building with gray-haired man in black suit--Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States

Major Biden with his new dad on Nov. 17, his official day of adoption, off to make White House history. Photo by Stephanie Gomez, DHA shelter projects manager.


Virtually Pets

“[Having a rescue in the White House] shines a light on the good work we do here every day and the good work that all shelters and rescue groups across the country as well as in Delaware do,” said DHA’s executive director Patrick Carroll during Major’s virtual “indoguration.” “The human/animal bond is strong and goes beyond political differences, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.”

The indoguration was planned in partnership with Pumpkin Pet Insurance as a fundraiser for DHA, and $200,000 worth of donations came in for the animals.

big black-and-tan German shepherd sits with a blonde woman in a black coat--First Lady Jill Biden--on the grass

Major didn’t show up at the ceremony except in a brief clip with the First Dog Dad—likely, big brother Champ’s wet nose was out of joint with all the attention his younger brother got. Photo by Adam Schultz, official White House photographer.


Carroll’s words ring true—adopting a pet doesn’t equate jumping on a bandwagon. The First Family may inspire some shelter rescues, but it seems instead that the rescue community has inspired them—the community of animal advocates who pull pets from streets and shelters and help them recover from whatever ails them, shelters whose administrators and staff work hard every day to save every animal who’s brought in, free and low-cost spay/neuter efforts, and a public committed to adopt shelter pets or foster one and then, like the Bidens, fall deeply in love and be unable to give them back. It’s not as if we need to hold up the First Family as an example—their own community has exemplified itself to them and will continue to do so.

We still have a long way to go to ensure that every animal born is wanted and treated with respect, but as Carroll said, how great it is for pet communities from Wilmington, Delaware, to Long Beach, California, to have set such an example that it has reached the White House. No matter who lives there in the future, it’s hoped that the tradition continues.

Donate here to support the DHA.

These pets from Long Beach Animal Care Services couldn’t care less what color your house is as long as it has good food, toys to play with, and loving people in it to be their first—and forever—family.

squatty tan pit bull sits on grass in front of kneeling man with beard. A white building is in the background.

Looking for a four-legged best friend? Look no further than Phoebe (ID#A652617). This cutie pie is so gentle, so kind and so loving. Wherever lead volunteer Gary goes, you’ll find Phoebe. Phoebe wants to be-be your baby, and she’ll make a perfect companion!

brown pit bull mix with white blaze on chest sits tall in front of a kneeling man with a beard. They sit on the grass in front of a white building.

Who doesn’t love️ a soccer-playing dog? Joey (ID#A651959) is a 1-year-old male pitty who can’t get enough of his playtime with Gary. He also loves to play with other dogs. He’s ready to be your all-star!


pit bull mix with white body, brown ears and a patch over one eye looks at the camera. He sits tall, and wears brown-and-white mittens on his front paws. He sits on a cement with grass in the background and a cement-block wall in the background.

Have you met our Bernie? Bernie (ID#A649912) is an 8-year-old pitty mix who would love to find a home. As you can see, he was ready to brave the winter cold at Major Biden’s Indoguration.


big-eared black cat with green eyes stares into calendar.

Told you that cats are opportunists. Bartholomew (ID#A653059) snuck his way in past the pooches—he said that it ain’t easy being purr-fectly clever. Barthie’s 5 years old—he came to the shelter as a stray and is quite the purr monster! He’s super affectionate and loves rubbing his face against his greeters. He needs a home, too!


Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Online Cat Conference 2021, Friday, Jan. 29, 4–6 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 30, 7 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 31, 7 a.m.–3 p.m., $60 through Jan. 29, $75 after that date

Have you made a resolution to find out more about how you could help some of the cats you see out and about in your neighborhood? Or maybe you resolve to learn more about nutrition and how to keep your own cats healthy and happy. You can learn about all that and so much more in this information packed three-day conference! Check out the myriad topics and outstanding presenters. If you type in the code Catpaws when registering, the conference planners will make a $25 donation to Helen Sanders CatPAWS. Register here.

Feline Good Social Club reopening, 301 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, Thursday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., $15/session, book here

The volunteers at the Feline Good Social Club are su-purr-excited to announce their February reopening during Valentine’s Week! What a more purrfect time to a return to cuddle than the month of love? Stop by the lounge and share yours with the lounge’s amazing 20-plus cats and kittens! Private sessions are available, so you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Weekend, they’ll be available Saturday and Sunday, the 13th and the 14th.

Celebrate World Spay Day with two animal welfare organizations, Tues. Feb. 23, 5 p.m., free event, register here.

Join Helen Sanders CatPAWS and Fix Long Beach for a virtual educational event on World Spay Day! Your optional donation to participate will support both organizations. All participants will also be entered to win a $100 American Express Gift Card. Read more about CatPAWS’ namesake, Helen Sanders, and the event and its organizers here.

Help wanted, help given

Free pet vaccines available from SNP/LA, Harley-Davidson, 1517 Pacific Coast Highway, Harbor City, Saturday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Does your cat or dog need their vaccinations? Line up at the mobile clinic at a distance of 6 feet and get them at no charge. All human clients must wear masks over mouth and nose, and to reduce the number of people in line, a maximum of two individuals per group is allowed. All cats must be in carriers; all medium/large dogs must be on leashes. Small dogs may be carried. Please bring all past pet vaccine records. Vaccine information is available here.

Feline Good Social Club needs willing subjects for its bewhiskered nobility

Feline Good Social Club will be closed to the public until it’s safe for humans. The cat curators said that in the interest of public safety, the kitties will be meanwhile curled up in foster homes and will return to bat toys and hearts around. Volunteers are needed in some key areas to help get things ready for reopening. Want to be part of a kowtowing staff to cats, because cats expect it? Email [email protected].

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season is just about up, but kittens still enter shelters. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. If you are interested in obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, please email [email protected].

Spay/neuter vouchers are 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 are available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) is back in business for free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic, located at 957 N. Gaffey St., will give shots every third Thursday between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Drive-thru pet pantry, Homeboy Industries, 130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles, Saturday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., free to pet owners in need.

Michelson Found Animals is partnering with Homeboy Industries, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and Los Angeles Board of Supervisors chair Hilda Solis to provide free food to 1,000 pets in need in Los Angeles. The event is open to the public, with no appointments necessary. In an effort to conduct the event in the safest way possible, the pet food will be distributed through a no-contact drive-thru system at Homeboy Industries. The effort will provide much needed resources to aid families in the ability to care for their beloved pets and reduce abandonment and surrender to shelters. Additionally, Homeboy Industries and ARC members with scheduled appointments can get wellness services for pets, including microchips, vaccinations, flea/tick treatment, hygiene services and other pet supplies. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelson Found Animals Foundation has provided support to over 15,000 pets, assisting families struggling to make ends meet during these unprecedented times. In addition to regular events, Michelson Found Animals has two food pantries in Los Angeles that serve 450 pets weekly with 1,530 pounds of dry food and 1,800 cans of wet food each week. Michelson Found Animals is the largest funder of pet surrender prevention in Los Angeles.

Helen Sanders CatPAWS offers, through specific private donors, e-gift cards for people struggling during the crisis to buy food for their pets. The CatPAWS Spay/Neuter Fund, also privately funded, has vouchers available for anyone not able to go to the shelter for them. They also accept donations.

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. Seventh St.

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave.

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St.

Food and supplies are available at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave., Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.; and at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

brown tabby kitten lies in a triangular cat pet with a paw extended and the other obscured by part of the bed.

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: weekdays and Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., 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—”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 center: viewable daily during store hours, PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal 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. Sadly, no ear scratching or chin rubs at this time, but volunteers can answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Links to lovables

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions, but 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.


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