Little Lion Foundation

Jessica Ruth (behind table) and Jenny Sersion (in front of table) stand ready to greet clinic clients.

Caring for an animal is an expensive undertaking. ASPCA estimates that regular pet ownership costs more than $800 per year for a cat and $1,000 per year for a large dog.

Hardships caused by COVID-19 have added to the financial pressure of pet care. As a result, many pet owners are in need of assistance.

Throughout the pandemic, Claudia Otis, co-founder and owner of The Little Lion Foundation, said that her organization has received more than 10 emails a day from pet parents requesting help, either for their own pets or for animals they found on the street. According to Otis, services have been limited in the Southern California shelter system and many veterinary offices have been operating with limited staff and hours. Customers have had less access to wellness services, like vaccines and flea medications.

“One of the most heartbreaking parts of this pandemic is that although people love their furry companions, the pandemic has made it very difficult for them to provide proper care,” Otis said.

The Little Lion Foundation is a nonprofit that focuses on the wellness of orphaned and underage kittens. Its team of volunteers cares for abandoned and special needs kittens, treating their medical needs, providing them with vaccinations, microchips, spay/neuter surgery, and finding homes for them.

To help those in need, The Little Lion Foundation is offering a free, community pet wellness clinic on Saturday, March 13. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., pet owners are invited to visit the Long Beach Masonic Lodge, at 3610 Locust Ave. A drive-through food and supply give-away will provide goods on a first-come, first-served basis.

People whose animals need medical care can sign up at www.littlelionfoundation.org/wellnessevent for free vaccines, microchips and flea medication for cats and dogs. Veterinary care will be conducted by appointment only, with priority given to Long Beach residents.

Sahara Blank serves as a kitten foster for Little Lion. Blank said that COVID-19 made this year difficult. She said she plans to bring Rajah, her senior Pomeranian, to the clinic on Saturday for a round of vaccines.

“This is really great for anyone who has been hit financially,” Blank said. “It’s also a great way to motivate people to get their pets up to date with vaccinations and chipping.”

Other local groups have joined with Little Lion to coordinate this clinic. Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) will be providing and distributing food and supplies. Long Beach Animal Care Services is providing the microchips. ASPCA will be offering information about their pet health insurance, and One 4 One grooming will be handing out goody bags and information about pet grooming.

A mobile veterinary unit will administer the required annual vaccines — FVRCP for cats and DHPP for dogs. Rabies vaccines and flea medications will also be available.

Otis said she hopes that Saturday’s event will be the first of many community wellness clinics. The nonprofit is currently seeking monetary donations to purchase the supplies needed for future events. To donate, go to www.littlelionfoundation.org/wellnessevent.

“With the public’s help, The Little Lion Foundation will facilitate the care of people’s pets during this perilous time,” Otis said.

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