County Animal Services transports 22 dogs at risk of euthanasia to Santa Barbara
Today marks a new start in the Santa Barbara area for 22 dogs and one cat after Winter Storm Uri left Texas residents without power or running water.
Thousands of Texas pets entered animal shelters during the storm’s freezing temperatures, ice and snow, and because of the rapid influx, many dogs and cats who were in the shelters prior to the storm were then at risk of euthanasia due to space limitations and exhausted resources.
Therefore, animal shelters directly impacted by the storm called for help to safely transport 1,000 animals or more across state lines to free up critical space in the shelters.
And, of course, Santa Barbara County Animal Services answered the call.
“So many community members couldn’t stay warm and didn’t have water. There were animals flooding into the shelter,” Angela Yates, director of SBCAS, told the News-Press Friday. “A thought came to me and I said, ‘Can we offer help?’”
Before long, SBCAS, with the help of C.A.R.E4Paws, Shadow’s Fund and the Santa Barbara Animal Care Foundation, figured out a way to rally support and resources to transport as many animals as they could to the county in vans.
Later this evening, 22 healthy and social dogs and one healthy and social cat will arrive at the Animal Services shelter in Goleta from El Paso in hopes of finding happy homes.
The dogs selected for the journey range from 4 to 70 pounds, and the priority was to transfer dogs that truly didn’t have a home or were truly at risk of euthanasia. The dogs are a variety of sizes and breeds, with the smallest being a four-pound teacup dog.
None of them are puppies — most are at least a few years old, and Ms. Yates recalled they’ve got one senior pitbull who’s blind.
“That dog’s going to melt somebody’s heart,” she said.
Ms. Yates said the cat is a special needs cat, with paralyzed hind legs. She needs a kitty cart, but she’s social and can get around, and use the litter box. Ms. Yates believes she, too, will melt a local resident’s heart.
“What you want to do is make sure you’re not transferring somebody’s pet that’s been separated from their family during a time of crisis,” Ms. Yates said. “All of these dogs have been in the system for a while.”
She described the newcomers as “highly adoptable dogs that have been overlooked just because of the sheer volume of dogs in the shelter.”
The sheer volume at El Paso’s shelter, she said, was 496 dogs put in 250 kennels.
So El Paso Animal Services transported the dogs to Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, who offered to act as a transport hub to give the canine refugees a day of rest, and SBCAS volunteers made the 18-hour round trip drive there to bring the 22 dogs and one cat back.
“During COVID, the networking in this industry has just exploded,” Ms. Yates said. “We are more collaborative than I’ve ever seen in this industry.”
A team of SBCAS staff and volunteers, and even County Supervisor Gregg Hart, plans to greet the transport team upon their arrival at the Goleta shelter at 5473 Overpass Road around 7 tonight. Once they arrive, the dogs will be rotated throughout the shelter’s play yards to ensure they get the opportunity to stretch their legs and acclimate to their new surroundings.
All pets will receive a vet exam before being put up for adoption, but Ms. Yates added that the majority are already vaccinated.
Ms. Yates said SBCAS had barely even started publicizing the Texas dogs, and they already have more than 100 adoption applications.
“We’re not even putting photos or anything up,” she said. “There will be some disappointed people, because there’s only 22 dogs. I wish we could do this more because clearly, our community response is there are adoptive homes here and there has been a shortage of adoptable animals during COVID.
“I think our community is really hungry and lonely for that animal companionship.”
Many of the animals will be immediately available, and a special adoption event is planned for Tuesday: Texas Tuesday.
The dogs will go to the homes that best match them, and whose owners best match the dogs.
Anyone interested in giving one of the Texas dogs a home can visit countyofsb.org/phd/animal/texasdogadoption.sbc and fill out an application specifically set up for them. Adoption appointments will be scheduled on Texas Tuesday and throughout the week until all dogs, and the cat, find loving homes.
“We live in a world now where it’s commonplace to have this kind of news and weather and other things, and feel so helpless. It happens far away, and you feel helpless,” Ms. Yates said. “But you have these moments where you can actually do something and have an impact, and it’s this feeling of coming together and being connected to people and animals from far away. I feel so proud of us and proud of our county for supporting this. It makes me a little teary.”
The SBCAS director simply asked for patience from the public, as she knows there’s more interest than the shelter has available. She added that the shelter has many non-Texas dogs up for adoption as well.