Santa Barbara County Animal Services decided to temporarily close the Lompoc animal shelter in the wake of operational challenges across three shelter locations.
Staffing and animal care are now concentrated at the two shelters in Santa Maria and Goleta, and the Lompoc facility will be closed through Jan. 31.
Animal Services will explore new ways of delivering services to the Lompoc area, and is attempting to break free from the traditional brick-and-mortar shelter model.
“We were experiencing some operational challenges with coverage and safe coverage across three shelters,” Angela Yates, director of Animal Services, told the News-Press. “We have staff openings we needed to fill, and we have experienced some tremendous changes in how we’re operating due to COVID.”
Animal Services is collaborating with C.A.R.E.4Paws and Companion Animal Placement Assistance to offer Lompoc residents mobile veterinary clinics, offsite events for pet food distribution such as a free pet food bank, vaccines, pop up licensing, free microchipping and more.
Starting in December, C.A.R.E.4Paws will add Sundays at Ryon Park to its weekly schedule of distributing emergency pet food and supplies every Tuesday at the Half Century Club.
Field services are still continuing in Lompoc per usual and an animal control officer is assigned there daily. The full range of services are also being provided by the Santa Maria Animal Center.
Ms. Yates said that while Animal Services faces staffing issues like many other businesses during COVID-19, she believes the animal sheltering industry has been stuck for the last hundred years in a model that “disempowers the community” from being a part of it.
“That’s the bigger conversation happening in the animal welfare industry,” she said. “There’s pressure in keeping the Lompoc shelter fully staffed during this short period of time, but we will look at and explore and see how this works.
“We still have all our animal control operations in Lompoc, so if we did have a lost dog, when the owner is identified, could we make the match over the phone and could one of our animal control officers deliver that dog straight to the owner?” the director asked. “It’s way better for the animals, and it’s way better for the people because they get their animals back quicker.”
These are the types of ideas and solutions Animal Services staff will be considering, and the staff members are seeking community input on how they can better serve Lompoc residents.
“The animal welfare industry has been meeting via Zoom and collaborating and really talking about how we can serve our community members better,” Ms. Yates said. “What does Lompoc need in terms of animal sheltering? More access to services? More convenient licensing? Low-cost vaccines and neutering?”
She added that the conversation surrounding how to better integrate the services into the community can be compared to conversation about law enforcement.
“It’s not so different from the conversation that has occurred over the past few months around police forces and community-based policing instead of enforcement policing,” the director said. “There’s a lot of conversation in the animal welfare industry in serving communities instead of focusing solely on that enforcement side of it.”
Now, Animal Services will be holding a series of stakeholder and community meetings over the next few months to gather input and brainstorm on how to best deliver services to the Lompoc community.
Ms. Yates said the first one will likely be in January.
“It’s so hard for people to remember the temporary part of it, but it’s really important because we have not made a long-term decision about that shelter,” the director said. “We really want to have a conversation with the Lompoc community before we make any long-term decisions.”
For the remainder of the year, Animal Services will be offering mobile clinic services, emergency pet food and supplies to Lompoc residents on certain days from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mobile Clinic Services will be offered at the Half Century Club on Nov. 24, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. They’ll also be offered at Ryon Park on Dec. 6.
Emergency pet food and supplies only will be offered at the Half Century Club on Dec. 1. They’ll be offered at Ryon Park on Dec. 13, Dec. 20 and Dec. 27.
The walk-up services available at the mobile clinics include: $10 vaccines (rabies, distemper/parvo [DHPP for dogs and FVRCP for cats]); $15 bordetella vaccine for dogs; $10 flea and deworming treatment; free microchipping; $15 nail trimming; free emergency pet food distribution; and dog licensing.
Services available by prior appointment include affordable medical exams, treatment of infections, dental and mass removals and spay/neuter surgeries for a donation for qualifying pet owners.
Pet food is also available Monday through Saturday by calling 805-737-7755 to schedule an appointment at the Lompoc shelter, and there are no clinics scheduled for the week of Dec. 21.
To make an appointment, visit care4paws.org or call 805-968-2273.