We know, we know: All shelter pets are created equal. But the rescues at the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' two L.A. locations are a little quieter, a little cuddlier and a lot less stressed-out than your average Tramp. Unlike overstuffed, undiscerning city or county shelters, SpcaLA Hawthorne picks its pets off the streets of such cities as West Hollywood and Manhattan Beach, then puts them through a Teaching Love and Compassion program that employs “at-risk youth” as volunteer trainers — so your new puppy comes equipped with a big heart and sit/come/stay basics. Although the SpcaLA's much larger Long Beach shelter boasts a 25 percent purebred population and an awesome location inside a dog park, the Hawthorne branch is so serene and homey that it almost feels like a Waldorf preschool for kittens and bunnies. In this case, a smaller selection of keepers trumps an ear-splitting menagerie. 12910 Yukon Ave., Hawthorne. (310) 676-1149, spcala.com.

—Simone Wilson

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