Captain Care – keeping dogs out of the shelter system

A special, all-volunteer organization is hard at work to help low-income pet owners in Los Angeles County, California. The non-profit agency, Captain Care, does its utmost to keep pets at home with their family, rather than in the shelter system.

Phyllis, the non-profit agency’s director, explained how the community outreach organization came to be:

Captain Care was started a little over two years ago, named after Captain, an old, very ill lab mix who was left at the shelter suffering from cancer, unable to eat or drink.  He spent his last painful week alone, away from his family, alone and scared.  He should have been taken by his family to a vet for humane euthanasia when his painful cancer was untreatable.  Either the family did not have the money or did not want to spend the money for euthanasia, or they did not care that their old family pet suffered so much at the end.  We vowed to start an organization to address the needs of low-income pet owners to try to keep dogs like Captain out of the shelter system.

The Captain Care volunteers work to offer assistance for veterinary care, pet food, supplies, spay/neuter, identification tags, humane euthanasia (as an alternative to sending ailing, and/or elderly pets to an animal control agency where they are held and then put down), as well as assistance for low-income families who may need help with fines/fees for impounded pets.

Screenshot (869)The organization primary serves families in the Carson Animal Services facility area (Gardena, California). Individuals visiting the shelter facility will see signs posted about the outreach program, and there are also Captain Care cards on hand for staff to pass out to families who express a need for help.

Phyllis described the type of people Captain Care is able to help:

We often help seniors with their pets, and their lack of resources is heartbreaking. They often live on very small social security checks, just barely making it every month, yet their pets are well cared for and loved.

We help with vet care and pet food in cases like these. Their dog or cat is often what keeps them going in their lives. We are especially glad when we see children reunited with their pets, or when children see that taking care of their sick pet gets them well again.

It is a pleasure to work with and help people who really care about their pets and go to great lengths to make sure their pets get what they need to be happy and healthy.

The non-profit organization also helps families who are unable to pay for need veterinary treatment for their pets – Phyllis explained:

People often have been turned away by vets for lack of funds and are desperate to find a way to help their pets and save their lives.

I can’t imagine how terrible they feel watching their beloved family member suffer and not being able to afford vet care.  Often these families do not have credit cards to rely on, and are unable to pay their rent or buy food if they pay for the needed vet care.

We try to raise donations to supplement what the family can afford to pay, but we are never able to cover it all, and struggle to keep up with the vet bill payments, even though we have a very good, low-cost vet we work with.

Days ago, a Chihuahua named Tinkerbell was reunited with her owner thanks to Captain Care. The dog had been rescued from an abusive owner and she became deeply bonded to the new human “Dad,” who saved her. When Tinkerbell recently slipped out of her home, her owner found her at the Carson Shelter, but he was unable to pay the fees to have her released to his custody. Thanks to Captain Care, and generous donors, not only were those impound fees raised, but Tinkerbell received a shiny identification tag, along with supplies and toys, before being reunited with her grateful owner. 13872752_1235572886475657_6290315313635347231_n

The all-volunteer agency relies on donations to continue doing its good work. The agency is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible. Those interested in supporting the agency can lend a hand by sharing Facebook posts about dogs in need, or by donating pet supplies, such as food, crates, dog beds, collars, cat litter, leashes or other pet-related items. The group is also part of the Amazon Smile program – people can designate Captain Care Shelter Intervention as their charity when shopping through Amazon Smile and a small donation will be made to the organization.

Interested in learning more? Click here to find the Captain Care website. Click here to find the agency on Facebook. Email inquiries to


Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.


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  2. Bunny says:

    Given that the Carson Shelter is taxpayer funded, and one of the goals should be animal welfare, why does a resident have to turn to a nonprofit to pay exonerous “impound fees”? Taxpayers should be demanding better & more compassionate policies from municipal animal shelters.

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