George Cervantes is a local celebrity matchmaker who spends his weekends volunteering at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter and encourages others to do the same.

Celebrity matchmaker encourages people to help local shelters

By Haley Beyer

Santa Monica celebrity matchmaker George Cervantes has spent the last decade volunteering at local animal shelters, including the Santa Monica Animal Shelter.

He’s so enamored with it that he adopted six cats.

“I like to show up and do whatever they need, but my favorite volunteer activities are socializing the cats and helping set up at big events the shelter puts on to promote adoption,” Cervantes said.

“Anyone interested in volunteering should know, though, that it’s not just playing with cute animals all day. It’s a lot of work. I want people to take it seriously.”

The shelter is on the lookout for folks like Cervantes. To volunteer, head to the shelter or to its website to fill out an application.

Volunteers will do things like cleaning, feeding animals, help run the front desk, walk dogs and socializing the cats.

In addition to dogs and cats, the shelter brings in hamsters, guinea pigs and birds. Like most animal shelters, there are an extremely high number of cats.

“I have a lot of patience with the cats,” Cervantes said.

“A lot of people see that the cats are feral or aren’t warmed up to humans yet and give up on socializing with them, which never gives them the chance to enjoy being around humans.”

That’s important, he said, so the cats become adoptable.

It’s especially true with older animals. They have a harder time being adopted because they are often set in their ways, have health conditions and a shorter life ahead of them.

One of Cervantes’ favorite things about volunteering is watching the animals progress.

Most come in scared and unhappy. He watches as they slowly adapt to humans and become friendlier while they wait for their forever family.
This is one of many reasons why it’s so important for shelters to be no-kill because it gives animals the time they need to reach their full “pet” potential.

“It’s even more inspiring to see just how big some people’s hearts really are,” Cervantes said.

“There will be a cat missing an eye or a dog will have a health condition that causes most people to walk right past them, but when people see them for their personality they realize they’re just as good as the rest and deserve a loving home too.”

There are so many benefits to volunteering at the shelter, but the best part is knowing that one has made a difference in the lives of the animals.
“They are so happy to see you when you come in,” Cervantes said.

“It truly makes a difference for them to have visitors because they’re in cages all day long. Just 30 minutes of your time could change an animal’s life. They need attention and love to become an animal that someone wants to bring home.”

Santa Monica Animal Shelter
1640 Ninth Street,
Santa Monica