Right now, a record number of Santa Barbara County pet owners struggle to provide for their animals as a result of COVID-19. To meet the unprecedented need and help ensure pets stay happy, healthy and with their families through the pandemic and beyond, C.A.R.E.4Paws invites the community to participate in a month-long Pet Food & Matching Donation Drive that started Sept. 1.
Community members can partake in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ countywide drive by contributing dog and cat food and cat litter or by donating funds, which will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 through Sept. 30. Monetary gifts will be allocated toward the organization’s most pressing needs, whether that’s for pet food, critical services provided in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile veterinary clinic, or assistance for pets of domestic violence survivors.
The organization has several designated drop-off locations for pet food, including partner stores such as Lemos Feed & Pet Supply, Montecito Pet Shop, La Cumbre Feed and PetSmart on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. Other partners include Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club in Santa Barbara and Goleta, Advanced Veterinary Specialists (AVS), Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society/Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG), Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ shelter off Foster Road in Santa Maria, and C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile clinic. Those who prefer to shop remotely can access C.A.R.E.Paws’ Amazon Wish List. All of the details for the drive can be found at care4paws.org/drive.
“The pandemic has created extremely challenging circumstances for countless community members,” says Isabelle Gullo, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ executive director and co-founder. “People need the companionship and comfort of their animals more than ever. At the same time, so many struggle to provide even the most basic care for their pets, which is heartbreaking for everyone in the family and puts animals at risk of ending up in shelters.”
To prevent suffering and keep pets homebound, C.A.R.E.4Paws provides a range of intervention services for low-income, senior, disabled and homeless pet owners all over Santa Barbara County. The organization’s Companion Pet Assistance program distributes an average of four tons of pet food and cat litter per week, a tremendous increase from 2019, when C.A.R.E.4Paws donated roughly two tons of food total. C.A.R.E.4Paws distributes food at each of its mobile veterinary clinic events and participates in several weekly distribution events with partners such as the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, People Helping People and the senior centers of Los Alamos and Guadalupe. Pet food is delivered directly to seniors stuck in their homes as well as to low-income housing facilities countywide.
C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program provides free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and veterinary care as well as vaccines, microchips and other basic services throughout Santa Barbara County. Before the pandemic, the organization had budgeted to perform 1,400 mobile spay and neuter surgeries this year. Now, with 1,200 surgeries performed in eight months, the organization estimates that — with adequate funding — it will alter 1,900-plus pets in 2020. C.A.R.E.4Paws also anticipated providing veterinary care to 1,200 pets in 2020, but with the financial impact of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to assist 1,700 pets with medical treatment by year’s end.
C.A.R.E.4Paws hopes that the donation drive will support its unprecedented efforts throughout the fall and winter.
“The future and well-being of so many animals depend on how effectively we continue to respond to this crisis in the months to come,” says Gullo, who adds that a fun way for community members to help with the donation drive is to challenge a group of friends, family members or coworkers to collectively raise funds and pet food. “Set a goal and let us know when you have reached it. We can then feature and thank the groups and their pets on our Facebook and Instagram pages.”
For more details about how to participate in the drive, go to care4paws.org/drive. For more information about C.A.R.E.4Paws and its services, visit care4paws.org or contact the organization through email@example.com or 805-968-2273.