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Santa Maria Valley and Santa Barbara humane societies join forces to provide more services

humane society merger
Nathalie Vera/
The Santa Maria Valley and Santa Barbara humane societies merge.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. --The Santa Maria Valley and Santa Barbara humane societies are officially joining forces after two years of negotiations. The shelter expects to expand programs, and share resources.

“We're really excited that this merger has finally come together, it's been a long time and a lot of work," said Dori Villalon, Vice President of campus operations. “We were both competing for the same donations, in a way, and the same support, and also the same staff. So it makes sense to bring everybody together.”

Shelter leaders say combining resources will help them provide more programs.

“Both shelters are operating at about the same, which is a little over 1,000 animals adopted a year. But I really see that ramping up as we see the synergy of both organizations working together," said Villalon.

One goal is to expand access to low-cost veterinary services, “and also dog training, because a lot of times people end up giving up their animals 'cause they're frustrated and they don't know how to communicate to their dog," Villalon continued.

The humane society says the change will also allow them to provide additional spay and neuter services at low cost, or for free.

The merger is good news for Santa Barbara County Animal Services. The humane society helps the county shelter with overcrowding.

“Santa Maria is our highest intake facility," said Tara Diller, director at the Animal Services branch in Santa Maria.

In 2019, the shelter transferred 400 pets to the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

“Which is really great because as the only open admission shelter within this county, we are obligated to take every animal that comes to us whether it be sick or injured or neglected.”

Diller says Animal Services is excited about the merger, too.

“We're really looking forward to strengthening that partnership and working a little more collaboratively as a community on adoption promotions, spay and neuter days, things like that.”

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Nathalie Vera


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