SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — 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 percent compared to pre-COVID estimates, according to an ASCPA 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-thru taking place today and Sunday from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. with multiple drop-off locations available countywide.
Today, supporters can drop off pet food and monetary donations at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, Deckers Brands in Goleta, and Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society & Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG) in Buellton.
On Sunday, drive-thru donations can be dropped off at Ryon Park in Lompoc and Elks Event Center 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 is of course on hand to help unload donations as needed.
C.A.R.E.4Paws, thanks to many of its longtime business and agency partners, has a dozen additional locations where donations can be dropped off this weekend or anytime before and after the official drive- thru event.
This includes Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club in Santa Barbara and Goleta, Plaza Deli, Montecito Pet Shop, Advanced Veterinary Specialists (AVS), Carpinteria’ Animal Medical Clinic, and Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ shelters in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria.
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 Santa Barbara Countywide. That’s roughly 400,000 pounds of pet food! Prior to 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,” C.A.R.E.4Paws’ executive director Isabelle Gullo said. “Research shows it and we continue to hear it firsthand from clients, donors, social media followers and anyone in between.
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 cohosted 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 at SBCAS’ shelter in Santa Maria.
“The more pet food and money we raise, the greater of a safety net we can provide for community members who are struggling,” Gullo concluded.
For more details about how to support the Pet Food Donation Drive-Thru, you can visit their website.