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Dogs, Cats at Shelter Showered With Gifts

The holidays came early this year for the animals at the East Valley Animal Service Center on Sherman Way.

The dogs and cats there were showered with gifts, including rubber balls, stuffed animals and Pup-Peroni beef jerky, as the shelter celebrated its fourth annual Toys for Pets day Wednesday.

Kindergartners from the KinderCare Learning Center along with City Councilman Joel Wachs and shelter volunteers presented the gifts to a loud chorus of barks, yelps and meows.

“They love the gifts, but they love the attention even more,” said Wachs, a self-proclaimed animal lover who has attended the event each year.

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The toys were collected over the past month at Petco stores and other businesses throughout Los Angeles. Petco has been involved in the event since its inception.

“These animals don’t have much. It’s a hard existence,” said Sam Mazzulo, a Petco district manager. “These gifts make them so happy and might help them get adopted.”

Wachs said that adopting a dog or two is high on his list of priorities after he retires.

The councilman spent the morning petting the animals and even climbed into a cage to play with a couple of the puppies.

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“I just love them,” he said.

The event, created to provide homeless shelter animals with toys for exercise, mental stimulation and stress reduction, has been far more successful than even its creator could have imagined.

“We get such a great response from the community,” said Phyllis Daugherty, founder of Toys for Pets. “Every year people ask us when are we going to start collecting again. They really enjoy helping out.”

It was the first year KinderCare, which has 16 centers in the Los Angeles area, was involved.

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“It’s a great idea,” said Sandy Safarik, a director at the center. “It promotes the spirit of giving and makes the children aware that not all animals have homes.”

For more information on ways to help the animals, call the center at (818) 764-7061.


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