Culver City Observer -

Adopt & Shop Combines Compassion, Convenience


Councilman Andrew Weissman, Aimee Gilbreath (Executive Director of Found Animals), Mayor Sahli-Wells, Councilman Jim Clark, and Councilman Jeff Cooper.

By Sandra Coopersmith

Features Writer

Every pet should have its day. In Culver City the likelihood that day will happen was substantially increased on May 13 when Adopt & Shop, a one-stop adoption and shopping experience at 4235 Sepulveda Blvd., had its grand opening.

This flagship store at the corner of Sepulveda and Culver is the second Adopt & Shop, the first having opened in Lakewood in 2011.

"A dog's life" generally refers to a fairly dismal existence. Sadly, it's one that's faced by many unwanted dogs and cats until their bleak lives are ended by euthanasia. But there's a happy alternative, and that's where Adopt & Shop, launched by Found Animals, comes into play.

Found Animals, a privately funded nonprofit, is committed to making a safe and healthy future for these animals through microchipping and registration, responsible adoption initiatives and low-cost spay and neuter services.

Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson provide support for Found Animals and its initiatives.

Michelson is a board-certified orthopedic spinal surgeon and inventor who has dedicated his life to creating more effective treatments for the most debilitating spinal disorders, and to relieving spinal pain. The plight of his grandmother, who had been a tennis champion and was later crippled by neurogenic spinal degeneration, spurred him to invent comprehensive surgical systems that are now used globally.

It is therefore not surprising that his dissatisfaction with existing methods, coupled with his intense desire to alleviate suffering, led him to create not only new systems in his field but also to establish and fund charitable organizations seeking change and betterment. One is a medical research foundation primarily focused on genetic research, and the other is Found Animals, dedicated to animal welfare.

Michelson is determined to make a difference by using business principles to solve the problems of pet overpopulation and the resulting shelter euthanasia. He sees Found Animals as an experiment in nonprofit social entrepreneurship, and believes in "active philanthropy, in which one personally or through their organization takes responsibility for effecting the desired change."

Adopt & Shop has the unique distinction of being the only nonprofit pet retailer in California offering pet adoption, daycare, grooming, dog training, microchipping, custom ID tags and a complete line of quality products to support happy and healthy pets. Hours at the Culver City store are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Proceeds from retail sales are donated to programs that support the happiness and safety of animals. Volunteers wishing to assist in making a difference in the lives of these animals are encouraged to visit for further information. Products are also available online.

The adoptable dogs and cats come from local shelters, so every adoption saves the life of an at-risk animal – truly an occasion for celebration. And a fine celebration it was, with local dignitaries who came Tuesday to show their support including Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells, Steve Rose of the Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Jeff Cooper, Councilman Andrew Weissman and Councilman Jim Clarke.

Aimee Gilbreath, who joined Found Animals eight years ago and is its Executive Director, kicked off the festivities by introducing Rose and Sahli-Wells, who both warmly welcomed Adopt & Shop to the community. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, everyone quickly entered the building to escape the heat and enjoy a slice of cake in cool comfort.

The spacious, well laid out store has several glass enclosures containing very appealing dogs and cats available for adoption. There are "meet" rooms where, in order to evaluate compatibility, visitors can meet and play with these prospective family members. Pet products are invitingly displayed. And the dogs already having fun in the glassed-in daycare play area included Rufus, a pit bull that epitomizes the term, "lucky dog," having been adopted several years ago by Gilbreath, who was captivated by the breed when she was volunteering for an animal rescue group.

"There are 200,000 animals in Los Angeles County shelters," Gilbreath said, "and only 100,000 make it out alive. Our goal is to keep animals from going into shelters and, for those in shelters, to give them a chance at life. Through Adopt & Shop we bring the pets to the people in a fun, upbeat, uplifting retail environment that has services and resources to make that experience a happy happening! We expect to have over 2,000 adoptions a year when this store is fully operational."

The little description cards on the animal enclosures, together with the very beguiling occupants, make that expectation quite feasible.

Who could resist Doug? This three-year-old Labrador Retriever with "lots of personality" is "looking for a partner in crime," would "love to go everywhere with my new family," and is "mellow and knows all the basic commands, so I won't be a problem! Did I forget to mention I love to snuggle?"

A&S Ribbon Cutting: (from left to right) Two Adopt & Shop staff members holding Manny (the dog), Aimee Gilbreath (Executive Director of Found Animals) holding Peanut, Steve Rose (Chamber of Commerce), Mayor Sahli-Wells, Councilman Jeff Cooper, Councilman Jim Clarke, and Adopt & Shop Staff member.

Then there's sweet Sebastian, a three-year old Chiagle mix, who is "really easygoing. After a long day I love to cuddle and relax. I love going for walks and just lounging on a comfy dog bed!"

Hank, a five-year-old Old English Bulldog, has traits with which many can identify, being "equal parts couch potato and playful," with "tons of personality and it's evident on my face!" He seeks "a home full of love and a really comfy bed for me to lay on. I would love a home with older kids or adults and I get along great with other dogs!"

These are just three of the many wonderful animals awaiting adoption. The command "Go fetch!" has now been issued to those who would like to bring a new pet home.

In what is often a dog-eat-dog world, it's encouraging to know there's a caring community of humane animal adoption and retail centers, with the Culver City Adopt & Shop being the latest and largest to provide a safe haven for what may well turn out to be your loving and very special furry friend for life.


Reader Comments

Karinjoy writes:

How heart-warming! What an incredibly good idea, to meld pet adoption with retail business. There are a seemingly endless amount of good things happening in Culver City, and Sandra has a gift for sharing their stories and opening our eyes. Wonderful!


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