By Gina Valencia | Photos by Alexiz Gomez
Welcome to the Family!
As any parent knows, bringing home a new member of the family changes everything, automatically becoming a part of a bigger community, one that only fellow parents understand.
A very similar parallel life change is when one becomes a pet-parent. Whether you bring home a puppy, kitten or an adult pet, there’s a group in the community who’d love to share in your new adventure with your fur-baby.
Every Dog Has its Day
What’s better than a day at the park with your four-legged best friend? How about meeting up with a bunch of dog-loving people and their four-legged best friends!
When Vanessa Bonifacio brought her two English bulldog puppies home in late 2020, all she knew was the love she instantly felt for them. However, she bought them from a breeder that, unbeknownst to her, disregarded important health concerns specific to English bulldogs.
“There are no laws to regulate breeding,” Vanessa said. “So many people unfortunately do it just for the money, and don’t take the time to do genetic testing to give these dogs a chance at a healthy life.” Regrettably, each of her pups contracted problems with their airways and passed away within minutes of one another in August 2021.
Vanessa turned her heartbreak into the impetus to educate herself in all things English bulldog. She was led to start an English bulldog rescue in January 2022, and is now the founder of Chunkz and Tubz Rescue Foundation, named after her beloved late pups.
“When I bought them, I knew next to nothing about rescues or of the current shelter crisis our country is in. It’s heart-wrenching how many healthy dogs are being euthanized daily for lack of space,” Vanessa said.
Out of this labor of love came the need to form a community of other dog-lovers which is when her Long Beach Bulldog Meetup group began. “I wanted to build not only a bulldog community, but a network for the rescue,” Vanessa said. “We love to meet with others who have the same love for the bulldog breed. [Bulldogs are] just the right amount of energy level, but also very cuddly.”
Vanessa’s meetup group invites dog lovers of all bulldog breeds to come together to network and share their knowledge with one another. Her group has been growing thanks to their Instagram page, where they’re constantly posting pictures and announcements of doggy events such as their Halloween costume contest, where countless pups and their owners attended dressed up and ready to party. Their Instagram feed also documents milestone celebrations for pups, plus imparts advice and helpful information.
After all, isn’t that what being a part of a family is all about? Find out more about this wonderful group on their Instagram page @lbbulldogmeetup.
“Getting Giddy with a Kitty”
Whether your household is a home for a cat, a dog, or both, each and every critter requires the love and consideration it deserves. While dogs are more social creatures who crave constant attention, a cat is more of a solitary, quiet, comforting companion. Dogs may do well when taken out to a park to meet up with other dogs, but cats are a little tougher to socialize. As much as my daughter wants to harness and leash our cats and take them for a walk, she’s not having much luck getting them past the front lawn where Olive and Oreo must stop to sniff, nibble, and roll around the grass. They are not much for a jaunt around the block.
If you prefer the calmness of a warm purring furball on your lap, there’s the Feline Good Social Club, a haven that houses and cares for over 20 kitties. Part lounge, part adoption center, the Feline Good Social Club opened in late 2019, and is a comfortable, relaxing space where visitors can come hang out, play, and cuddle with adoptable cats. It’s not a place to BYOC (bring your own cat) but a place to get to meet new feline friends.
A Purrfect Day Out
The Feline Good Social Club was the vision of Pam Leslie, the club’s CFO (Chief Feline Officer) who for over 20 years has dedicated herself to the rescue of homeless kitties. With experience in the financial and accounting fields, as well as nonprofit and small businesses, Pam ‘put her heart and soul into bringing the lounge to life.’
Per their website, all the friendly and healthy cats that live at the lounge come from their rescue partner, Long Beach Felines. “We take significant amounts of time to get our kitties healthy and happy and it’s because our entire team of volunteers love cats like we do,” said Mikki Motley, the club’s business manager. “[The] Club is special because of our very sweet cats.”
Aside from playing with the cats, visitors can take part in other fun activities such as sound healing events, and coming back in 2023, Cats & Mats Yoga time, where little padded paws slink through participants in Downward Facing Dog.
Community response to the lounge has been positive due to the facility’s clean and aesthetically pleasing environment, the socially playful cats, but mainly because of the importance of the cause. As one guest Yelp reviewer mentioned, “It’s great that there’s such a focus on the wellness of the cats and finding them homes.” Another visitor gushed, “It was therapeutic and so much fun.”
Even if you’ve never considered yourself a cat person, this sweet little place will change your mind.
Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave, LB 90802 / Instagram @felinegoodsocialclub