Source: Santa Barbara County Animal Services
This new year, animal and human welfare agencies in northern Santa Barbara County are coming together with a resolution that no pet—or pet owner—should have to go hungry or without critical care. C.A.R.E.4Paws, in partnership with Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Good Samaritan Shelter and Northern Santa Barbara County United Way’s Home For Good program, is increasing services available to community members in need by introducing more Pet Resource Centers. These are locations where pet owners can pick up dog and cat food and other supplies, sign up for veterinary care in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile clinic and, at all social welfare facilities, access wellness services for themselves.
“When you lend a hand to community members in need and their companion animals, you prevent suffering far beyond an empty stomach,” says Isabelle Gullo, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Cofounder and Executive Director. “Many owners decide to relinquish their pets to a shelter if they cannot provide food or critical wellness services,” Gullo explains. “This is not only heartbreaking for the person and pet, but our shelters become more crowded and, sadly, not every animal finds a new home. Through collaborations with other agencies, we can offer a fairly easy solution that benefits the whole community.”
Pet Resource Centers, which are part of C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Companion Pet Assistance program, now exist at a three locations in northern Santa Barbara County, including Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ Santa Maria Animal Center and Good Samaritan Shelters in Santa Maria and Lompoc (also referred to as Bridge House), which are both United Way Home For Good “Entry Points.” Families and individuals can also find help at Entry Points further south, such as People Helping People in Santa Ynez, PATH Santa Barbara, the Salvation Army and Isla Vista Community Service District. This is in addition to the centers that C.A.R.E.4Paws has maintained for several years at Santa Barbara’s Rescue Mission, Unity Shoppe and Noah’s Anchorage. (Find a complete list of Pet Resource Centers at care4paws.org/petassistance.)
Operating hand in hand with these centers, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Mobile Pet Meals team delivers pet food directly to homes countywide, while its mobile veterinary clinic also carries pet food to hand out during its Pet Wellness Clinics, hosted three days per week from Santa Maria to Santa Barbara (care4paws.org/clinics).
“We’re incredibly grateful to partner with C.A.R.E.4Paws and be a resource for pet owners in need,” says Tara Diller, Director of Santa Barbara County Animal Services. “Keeping people and their pets together is of utmost importance to us and sometimes all it takes is a bit of support during a financial hardship.” No one should ever have to choose between feeding their pets and paying a bill, adds Diller, who says Animal Services is excited to designate its Santa Maria shelter as a Pet Resource Center location and look forward to opening more locations in the future.
The Pet Resource Centers also bridge the gap for those who may not seek out services for themselves, but they will take advantage of programs that help their four-legged companions, says Emily Allen, Director of United Way’s Home For Good. “Often people consider pets family members. They will put their animal’s needs over their own. By engaging individuals around their concern for their pet, the homelessness emergency response system can leverage the human-animal bond to provide life-saving services to people and their pets,” says Allen, who adds, “To serve people experiencing homelessness and their animals, we know we must build relationships with animal welfare organizations. We’re thrilled to work with C.A.R.E.4Paws across Santa Barbara County!”
Support for C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Pet Resource Centers and Companion Pet Assistance comes from generous individuals, local business partners and other animal nonprofits. For more information about C.A.R.E.4Paws and to support its Companion Pet Assistance program, visit care4paws.org or contact [email protected] or (805) 968-2273. The organization is actively looking for pet food and pet supplies to ensure it can meet the growing demand.