Today is National Pet Day and while every day is, or at least should be, national pet day, as you give your loved little cat or dog another extra treat, maybe take time today to make a donation to help out all the other little cats, dogs and other unwanted animals who don’t have a home yet.

Lieutenant Robert Silverstein, the Santa Monica Animal Shelter Administrator, says that they typically get about 500 intakes every year and they can come from a number of different sources, from rescues off of the city streets to returns because a pet can no longer be cared for.

There are typical, sometimes seasonal, trends Silverstein explains and the pandemic saw a massive rise in adoptions and then an equally massive rise in returns. People gradually started to return to work and separation anxiety that might not have been immediately obvious with an adopted animal often became a problem and sometimes even resulted in damage in the home.

“There are legitimate reasons that people have,” Silverstein says. “We try to work with folks and give them options for not surrendering the animal, you know, whether it’s behavioral training for the animal, finding another person that might want to adopt it, you know, making sure that coming here is the last resort.”

The Santa Monica shelter is quite small in comparison to others around Los Angeles County. It offers 25 kennels and currently 16 are filled. According to Silverstein, two days ago 24 were occupied, so it can clearly fluctuate. Some other shelters have up to 100 kennels, so Santa Monica can quickly fill to capacity.

“We’re getting into spring and summer, which is kitten season, so we’ll get upwards of 50, 60, 70 cats into the shelter between April and the summer as the mama cats are having their litters, Silverstein says. Kittens take up a little less space than their canine counterparts, so the shelter can accommodate a few more. While the intakes are restricted to coming from the city limits of Santa Monica, anyone from anywhere can come along to adopt.

Sadly though, the shelter doesn’t have one of those kitten cams that run 24/7 on YouTube. “We’ve had some fun kitten photo shoots and we’ve talked about this a little in the past,” Elizabeth Noble, Chair of the Santa Monica Animal Shelter Foundation Board of Directors, says. “We had something like 35 cats here just a couple of months ago and it would’ve been great to be able to watch a few of those litters and I for one would stay up to 3am to watch that. Yes, indeed, it would be lovely to have.”

YouTube video

The rescued members of the animal kingdom aren’t just limited to cats and canines, Silverstein says his officers have responded to calls concerning owls, raccoons, a chinchilla, squirrels, skunks, snakes, seabirds and even a savannah monitor.

“It looks a little like a Komodo dragon, but much smaller and friendly. She was abandoned in a beach lot right by the pier. Unfortunately she was hypothermic, so they took her to the emergency vet where she was treated, she stayed here for a while and actually was adopted out,” Silverstein says.

This week also happens to be National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week, so it’s the perfect time to say a heartfelt thank you to the people who help out by actually helping the animals still waiting to find a forever home. Visit the website at to learn more about how you can help and offset that extra Easter egg you probably shouldn’t have eaten over the weekend with a generous donation.

Moreover, the second annual shelter Open House Fundraiser is on June 3, 2023, from 12-3pm at the site (1640 9th Street) that will include live music from a local band, face painting, a raffle, a super-cool auction and other fun activities for the whole family. All funds raised help the Santa Monica Animal Shelter and make a difference in the care and well-being of the animals.

Ten top random facts about dogs and cats as compiled by the Best Friends Animal Society

10. Dogs’ ears have approximately 18 muscles which help them to change the direction of their ears slightly to hear better.
9. A cat’s whiskers are as long as their body is wide. Their whiskers let them know if they can pass through narrow spaces.
8. Screen time might be good for puppies. If you show 3-5-week-old puppies videos of “scary” things like loud noises, they are less likely to develop fears of new things later in life.
7. Kittens learn to meow solely to communicate with humans. Cats never meow to each other (although they do chirp to each other).
6. Puppies don’t find yawns contagious, but older dogs do! Contagious yawning is usually attributed to social mirroring. Baby humans don’t start social mirroring until they’re a few months old, so it makes sense that puppies wouldn’t either!
5. One way a dog perceives time is by the changing smells throughout the day.
4. Cats share 95.6% of their DNA with tigers.
3. Because cats can pause their labor, one litter of kittens can have multiple due dates.
2. If given the choice, dogs prefer to poop facing the North-South magnetic axis.
1. Cats perceive humans as big, hairless cats.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.