C.A.R.E.4Paws event to help pet owners during pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has created extreme challenges for two- and four-legged family members alike. Across the nation, the number of pets living in poverty has increased by more than 20% compared to pre-COVID estimates, according to an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals study.
To prevent suffering and ensure companion animals stay healthy and with their owners through these difficult times, nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws is rallying the community to support its pet food donation drive-through taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with multiple drop-off locations available countywide.
On Saturday, supporters can drop off pet food and monetary donations at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, Deckers Brands, 6601 Hollister Ave. in Goleta, and Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society and Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG), 111 Commerce Drive in Buellton.
On Sunday, drive-thru donations can be dropped off at Ryon Park, Ocean Avenue and O Street in Lompoc, and the Elks Event Center, 4040 Highway 101 in Santa Maria. Contributions of dog and cat food (unopened products only) can be dropped off in bins (to limit person-to-person contact). The C.A.R.E.4Paws team will be on hand to help unload donations as needed.
There are 12 additional locations where donations can be dropped off Saturday and Sunday or anytime before and after the official drive-thru event. These include Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club in Santa Barbara and Goleta, Plaza Deli, Montecito Pet Shop, Advanced Veterinary Specialists, Carpinteria Animal Medical Clinic and Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ shelters in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria.
All locations, addresses and more details are listed at care4paws.org/drive.
Since the start of COVID-19, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Companion Pet Assistance program has distributed more than four tons of pet food per week, assisting pet owners in need countywide. That’s roughly 400,000 pounds of pet food. Before 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.
“A majority of pet owners can’t imagine going through these tough times without their four-legged friends,” said Isabelle Gullo, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ executive director and cofounder. “Research shows it, and we continue to hear it firsthand from clients, donors, social media followers and anyone in between.”
But, Ms. Gullo said, when money is tight or nonexistent, the stress of not being able to care for a pet can be overwhelming.
“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.”
C.A.R.E.4Paws distributes pet food during all of its mobile veterinary clinic days and participates in several weekly distribution events with agencies such as the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, People Helping People and the senior centers of Los Alamos and Guadalupe.
Its Mobile Pet Meals team delivers pet food directly to homebound seniors, senior centers and low-income housing facilities. Additionally, the nonprofit provides pet food and supplies at several Pet Resource Centers co hosted with agencies such as Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Good Samaritan Shelters and Santa Barbara County Animal Services.
Two new centers are launching by June 1 at SBCAS’ Santa Barbara and Lompoc shelters, adding to the center already operating successfully in Santa Maria.
Beyond pet food, C.A.R.E.4Paws offers assistance with free and low-cost veterinary care for low-income pet owners through its Mobile Community Medicine and Spay/Neuter Outreach program. The organization’s mobile clinic works directly in the county’s most underserved areas and, since the pandemic started, C.A.R.E.4Paws has increased its number of clinic days from 140 to more than 200 per year. The number of clinic services provided has grown by 50 percent since 2019, including spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, treatment of skin issues, dental procedures and mass removals.
Another critical service available to pet owners is C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Safe Haven program, launched in partnership with Domestic Violence Solutions in January 2020. Pet owners exposed to domestic violence can seek safety with their pets at a DVS shelter, and C.A.R.E.4Paws arranges for immediate, anonymous boarding or foster care for their animals.
On Saturday and Sunday, in addition to donating pet food and money at one of C.A.R.E.4Paws’ many drop-off locations, community members can visit care4paws.org/drive to donate online and purchase food to be delivered from the organization’s Amazon Wish List.
“The more pet food and money we raise, the greater a safety net we can provide for community members who are struggling,” said Ms. Gullo.