Animal lovers rally behind Animal Crackers Pet Rescue with fundraiser in last-ditch effort to keep the popular “no kill” dog and cat rescue in Laguna Beach. - 468x60

Animal lovers rally behind Animal Crackers Pet Rescue with fundraiser in last-ditch effort to keep the popular “no kill” dog and cat rescue in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, CA (PRWEB) June 21, 2012

The seaside community of Laguna Beach, California, is rallying behind Gina Kantzabedian, founder of Animal Crackers Pet Rescue in Laguna Beach, California, to keep the long-time, “no-kill” dog and cat rescue from being forced out of Laguna Beach. The Animal Crackers store, which funds the non-profit, has been asked to move by November 1 this year. To help fund the move, the community will be holding a “last ditch” fundraiser at Mozambique Restaurant, located at 1740 South Coast Highway, June 27 from 6 to 9pm.

The free event (suggested $ 25 tax deductible donation at the door), will feature food, a live auction, silent auction and raffle. Included among the items to be auctioned and raffled is a Mexico Trip, iPad with two hours of “Geek Time,” Palm Springs Get-Away, Laguna Beach Shopping Spree and silver jewelry.

“We will also be honoring Gina for her tireless work on behalf of displaced, often outright abandoned dogs and cats,” said Catherine Helshoj, one of the fundraiser organizers and long-time animal rights advocate. “The bottom line, however, if we aren’t able to help Gina raise the money she needs to keep Animal Crackers Pet Rescue open, is that countless numbers of dogs and cats are destined to either die in county shelters, starve to death or be killed on city streets.”

Animal Crackers Pet Rescue, which was recently featured in the Orange County Register, has become something of an eHarmony for lovable, lost and often misunderstood pets that have run out of options for a happy life. For the hundreds of dogs, cats, assorted turtles – and even a few mice – which have found their way into Animal Crackers over the last 20 years, it’s been like hitting the lottery after hitting rock bottom.

Kantzabedian, who has devoted her entire life to animals since finding homes for a litter of kittens exposed to the elements near her high school, founded Animal Crackers as an outright protest against so-called “puppy mills.” As a result, not only is there no charge for the animals adopted from Animal Crackers, but she spends an average of $ 870 per dog for vaccinations, spay and neutering, assorted veterinarian bills and initial quarantining – and that’s for a healthy dog. In addition, Kantzabedian says one in six rescues require some type of medical attention.

“Any animal I take in actually lives with me for a month, so I can truly get to know them, give them the love and attention they’ve been lacking, take care of any health issues, and in some cases, just teach them a few manners so I can find them wonderful homes,” she said. “They don’t understand why they are homeless, so we treat each of them as our own.”

Unlike other shelters claiming to be “no kill” facilities, Kantzabedian says Animal Crackers is strictly a “zero kill” rescue in every respect. “The sad fact is, extremely difficult to place dogs and cats are disposed of even at supposedly ‘no kill’ shelters, which breaks my heart and misleads the public.”

And that’s precisely why the “toughest cases” literally land in Kantzabedian’s lap.

“When a shelter has been run out by larger organizations where they try to ‘offload’ their difficult cases, that are when the phone rings in my office,” she said. “The call goes something like this, ‘If you don’t take our dog or cat, Gina, we’ll have to have it euthanized.’ Shortly after, the dog or cat is on its way to my doorstep.”

While adopting a dog or cat is free to the public, there are important “strings attached.” For example, Kantzabedian has a very strict screening process, which includes a house visit and reference check ensuring the family and animal are ideal for each other.

“Anybody adopting one of my animals must sign an agreement allowing me to visit the dog or cat from time to time. If I don’t like what I see, I have the right to take the animal back into my care,” says Kantzabedian, a self-proclaimed control freak when it comes to her “loved ones,” which is one of the reasons she offers free grooming for the first year.

“When a client brings in their animal for grooming, it provides a perfect opportunity to assess the health of the dog, and also its emotional well being,” she says. “For example, if the owner returns after the grooming and the animal isn’t excited and happy to see him or her – that’s a major red flag. The good news is that at least 95 percent of the people adopting pets from Animal Crackers are terrific pet parents.”

Due to budget constraints, Animal Crackers adopts only within surrounding areas. “I often go to bed crying, because these gorgeous creatures are so lovinv and want so little in return,” she says, her voice cracking. “They just look at me wondering, ‘what did I do wrong?’”

According to Kantzabedian, all too often the dogs dropped off at Animal Crackers were actually purchased for hundreds, even thousands of dollars at high-end, trendy pet boutiques for all of the wrong reasons – “as accessories.”

“One day, this beautifully dressed lady showed up with this adorable Chihuahua,” she said. “The woman was visibly distressed because her dog was supposed be no larger than 5 pounds, so it would fit perfectly into the designer carrier she had purchased months earlier. Well, the Chihuahua wound up weighing 6.5 pounds, and it didn’t fit properly into the carrier… so she wanted to get rid of her dog.”

Kantzabedian believes every dog is totally adoptable; it’s people who are the issue.

“All of my animals make spectacular family members. As I mentioned, sometimes I may have to teach them a few manners, like not jumping or barking at people – but that’s about it. All they’re looking for is somebody who will love them… and that’s all.”

And now, it’s Kantzabedian herself who could find herself homeless, along with the dogs and cats she has devoted her life to saving. For more information on the fundraiser scheduled for June 27 at Mozambique Restaurant, call 949-499-1988. Donations can also be mailed to: Animal Crackers Pet Rescue 30822 S. Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA 92651. For additional information about Animal Crackers, go to

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