Published Thu Mar 23, 2023 | 6:15am
Santa Barbara, Calif., – As the cost of living on the Central Coast keeps rising, so does the number of community members experiencing homelessness, including thousands of people with pets. To ensure unsheltered pet families have access to veterinary care, another steadily increasing cost, local nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws has partnered with The Street Dog Coalition to host regular, free pet wellness clinics in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo (SLO) Counties. The first collaboration event takes place Saturday, April 15, at the city of San Luis Obispo’s United Church of Christ (11245 Los Osos Valley Road), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We want people and pets to stay together,” says Isabelle Gullo, executive director and cofounder of C.A.R.E.4Paws, an organization that offers affordable, mobile pet wellness services for families in underserved communities. “Pets provide comfort, love and loyalty and they are nonjudgmental, unlike us humans. For so many people experiencing homelessness, the companionship of an animal is everything. And that human-animal bond is mutually beneficial.”
The April 15 wellness clinic offers free medical care for dogs and cats of the unsheltered in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile veterinary clinic. All services, including vaccines, flea treatment, nail trimming, wellness exams and treatment of skin, ear and eye infections, are sponsored by The Street Dog Coalition (SDC), a national nonprofit supporting pets of people experiencing homelessness across the United States.
“One of The Street Dog Coalition’s four core values is unbridled collaboration,” says SDC’s executive director Katrina Weschler. “We rely on supporters and community partners like C.A.R.E.4Paws to help us think outside the box, complement existing resources, establish trust, walk the talk, and deliver accessible, quality care through tailored delivery models.” She adds, “We are very grateful for the support C.A.R.E.4Paws provides for our mutual clients: people who may not have a roof over their heads but certainly have a home in their hearts for their four-legged companions.”
In 2023, C.A.R.E.4Paws and SDC will cohost events one Saturday per month, alternating between high-need locations in Santa Barbara and SLO Counties. For SLO County clinics, Central Coast Partnership for Animal Welfare (CCPAW) is also a critical collaborator and will help with promotion and pet food distribution. Clinics will be led by Dr. Alex Gomes, who heads SDC’s Central Coast chapter and also performs surgeries for C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program. Pet clients who need medical care beyond what is provided during the once-per-month events will be referred to C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile clinics or a local veterinary clinic partner.
On April 15, pet food and supplies will be distributed by C.A.R.E.4Paws and CCPAW. For the humans, SLO County’s Shower the People will provide mobile-shower services.
To learn more and support C.A.R.E.4Paws’ services for unsheltered pet families, go to care4paws.org/unhoused-pet-families. For more information about other C.A.R.E.4Paws programs, visit care4paws.org or reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-968-2273. To learn more about The Street Dog Coalition, visit thestreetdogcoalition.org.