Published October 6, 2022 

Locals lined up with their pets Wednesday for an affordable pop-up pet clinic to get the services and information they needed for their furry friends.

The C.A.R.E.4Paws Mobile Unit set up shop at the Elwin Mussell Senior Center in Santa Maria — the unit has been helping families and their pets on the Central Coast for about 10 years and the program continues to grow.

“Our main purpose is to lower pet overpopulation and promote responsible pet ownership in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties,” said Carlos Abitia, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile services coordinator. “We do this by promoting free spays and neuters. This year, we are close to 2,000 spays and neuters and we treat about 10,000 animals to low-income pet families.”

Spaying or neutering a dog or cat can typically cost up to $500, but C.A.R.E.4Paws provides them at no charge for local families who qualify for assistance. The program also provides other services to help keep pets, and their owners, happy and healthy. It offers medical services and also preventative pet maintenance.

“This is very purposeful work, there is nothing else I would rather be doing than making people and pets smile,” said Lisa Bolton, a veterinarian technician with C.A.R.E.4Paws.

C.A.R.E.4Paws can help ease the stresses of pet ownership, particularly in situations where pet owners can’t afford to help keep their animal healthy.

“This allows us to pull away the judgment. It’s really hard in this day and age to be able to afford these things for your animals,” said Dr. Shana Schank, who was busy performing surgery on a female pit-bull Wednesday. “The reality is the cost of pet care is high and we are doing the best we can to provide services for people who can’t do that and want to keep their pets.”

While some people lined up for quick services for their pet such as vaccines or a microchip tracking device, some owners dropped off their pets at Wednesday’s clinic early in the morning for more serious procedures.

“When pets get the proper care, it keeps the public safer,” Abitia said. “If all pets get rabies vaccines, this helps prevent a possible outbreak. For pets’ comfort, flea treatments, nail trimmings and wound care are just a few more services that C.A.R.E.4Paws offers.

“We work to promote empathy and compassion. Those are values that not only help the animals, but help the community as a whole. The more empathy and compassion a community has, the better we are going to do as a city, as a county and as a nation.”

C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Mobile Unit, depending on the services, offers both appointments and walk-ins. For more information or to make an appointment, call 805-968-CARE (2273) or email or visit The C.A.R.E stands for Community awareness, responsibility, education.