“Just knowing that the animals here are getting the best possible care and they will be able to stay there for their entire lives if they have to [is a relief]. If they don’t find a home at all, they’ll live here forever,” Dee Carey says of the Seal Beach Animal Care Center. Carey is president and a 10 ½ year member of the nearly 30 year old organization dedicated to providing quality care for the stray animals of Seal Beach.

According to Carey, the center was created by local Seal Beach citizens dissatisfied with other shelter options. “Before [the SBACC], the only option was the Orange County shelter which is quite a distance away, and they are a high-kill shelter,” Carey explains. “Sometimes, before people could even go and claim their animal, it would be gone.”

Because of this, Carey says that the shelter has a strict no-kill policy. “When Animal Control finds a lost cat or dog in Seal Beach, they bring it to us. Seal Beach citizens, if they find a stray cat or dog in Seal Beach, they can bring it to us as well, and they know that it will never be put down for lack of space,” Carey explains, “we never euthanize for anything other than terminal illness.” “I think that’s why people are still willing to donate and make sure the organization keeps on going,” says Carey, “we don’t want to have to go back to a kill shelter as being the only option for Seal Beach residents.”

Since its inception in 1988, the shelter has certainly grown. “It started with just a few dogs and a cat in a tiny little building, and now it’s two buildings and we typically have about eighty or so cats and thirty to forty dogs,” Carey explains. Evolving past its humble beginnings, the shelter now adopts out over 600 pets a year.

In addition to its size, the center’s membership has grown as well. Currently, the organization assembles over 600 animal-loving volunteers from across Seal Beach. “We are a 100% volunteer-run organization,” says Carey, “we have no paid management staff; we have a volunteer board of directors who manage the place.”

Driven by a genuine love for helping animals, these volunteers keep the organization running in a myriad of ways. Those working with dogs ensure that each dog is walked at least twice, oftentimes three times, per day. “Nobody goes home until they’re all walked at night,” says Carey. “Cat volunteers typically interact, play with, and help care for the cats during the open hours, like scooping litter boxes, doing dishes and laundry and stuff like that,” says Carey. Others volunteer by showing pets during the adoption process or even by fostering kittens too young for adoption in their homes.

Carey encourages all those wishing to volunteer to either visit their website or send an email to [email protected]. “Anybody can send an email, and we’ll forward it out to whoever needs to be contacted to set them up,” says Carey.

Another way to support the organization is through donations. “We rely 100 percent on donations,” says Carey, “we get a very tiny amount from the city of Seal Beach every year, $10,000, which is not much towards our $800,000 a year budget. So, everything else comes from donations.” Those wishing to donate can do so on their website through PayPal or by simply mailing a check. Alternatively, those wanting to memorialize a pet or person can purchase a tile to be displayed on the wall of the center’s cat building.

The center hopes to share its mission throughout Seal Beach with events including its Wag ‘n’ Walk fundraiser in September, wine tastings, and bake sales. The organization also contributes to other signature Seal Beach events including the Fish Fry, the Arts and Crafts Fair, and the Car Show. “We try to keep our face out there with the community to let people know that we’re there and that we are the option for any stray cat or dog found in the city of Seal Beach,” says Carey.

Currently, the organization is having its ‘Summer to Save Them All’ adoption promotion until the end of August. Done in association with Best Friends, a no-kill shelter in Utah, the event makes it easier and more affordable than ever to adopt a furry friend. Pets seven years and older have a lowered adoption fee of $20, and two kittens can be adopted for the adoption fee of one.