April 26, 2021 11:52 am

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After a weekend of generosity from pet lovers, a public food drive has restocked the supplies for C.A.R.E.4Paws in Santa Barbara County.

The non-profit set up in multiple locations to accept food, blankets and pet products from residents, coming through in a safe flow patterns.

Some dropped off small quantities. Others had multiple 50-pound bags.

Staff members were on scene to help with the unloading and sorting.

It comes at a time when the need for food has shot up during the COVID crisis and when many people have become jobless or work insecure. This drive is helping with their pet costs.

C.A.R.E.4Paws says nationwide the number of pets living in a poverty setting has gone up 20 percent compared to the number before COVID.

Isabelle Gullo, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Executive Director and Cofounder says, “during tough times people rely on their pets more than ever. A majority of pet owners can’t imagine going through these tough times without their four-legged friends. Poverty severely impacts both people and pets, and it’s critical that we, as a community, work together to provide a safety net for those in need to prevent suffering and ensure animals can stay with their owners.”

The need is vital for the pets and their owners for companionship and mental stability during a crisis. “Especially during tough times so it becomes difficult with  something  so big as the pandemic  to make sure they have pet food and veterinary care,” said Gullo.

Thousands of animals and pet owners have been helped every year.  “And since the pandemic started that number has tripled.   So in 2020 we helped   20,000 pet owners,” said Gullo.

In a statement C.A.R.E.4 Paws said:

Since the start of COVID-19, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Companion Pet Assistance (CPA) program has distributed more than four tons of pet food per week, assisting pet owners in need Santa Barbara Countywide. That’s roughly 400,000 pounds of pet food! Prior to the pandemic, the organization typically distributed two tons of food total in a year. This has increased C.A.R.E.4Paws’ pet food expenses to an unparalleled $10,000 monthly.

C.A.R.E. 4Paws distributes the food through its mobile veterinary clinic sites  which is listed on its website.   The organization also collaborates with groups like Adam’s Angels which meets at Alamada Park each Thursday, to help those in need with food, clothing, wellness and food for their pets.

Gullo said, “we want to be there to support and we don’t want anyone to feel bad about coming to pick up food. It’s important.”

In addition to the food, blankets,  and collars,  there’s also a mobile grooming donation at the park site once a month. “Tthe need was great for grooming because they can’t give baths where they are currently living.”

Going forward even with COVID slowing down, the need  is expected to be high for months.

Gullo said, “we’re not seeing the need diminishing anytime soon.  So we want to be here to support the community.  It’s community supporting community to help  others in need.”

Donations over the weekend were made Saturday at multiple locations throughout Santa Barbara County including The Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, Deckers Brands in Goleta, and Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society & Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG) in Buellton. On Sunday, April 25, drive-thru donations were dropped off at Ryon Park in Lompoc and Elks Event Center in Santa Maria.

Ongoing donation drop off sites includes Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club in Santa Barbara and Goleta, Plaza Deli, Montecito Pet Shop, Advanced Veterinary Specialists (AVS), Carpinteria’s Animal Medical Clinic and
Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ shelters in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria.

All locations are listed at care4paws.org/drive.

C.A.R.E.4Paws offers assistance with free and low-cost veterinary care for low-income pet owners through its Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program.

The organization’s mobile clinic works directly in the County’s most underserved areas and, since the
C.A.R.E.4Paws and its services, visit care4paws.org or reach out via info@care4paws.org or 805-968-2273.