A Central Coast nonprofit dedicated to helping pets and their owners facing financial challenges will host an event in Santa Maria on Saturday to collect donated dog and cat food and adopt homeless animals.
CARE4Paws will be hosting their Drive-Thru & Home donation for the Holiday Adoption Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, 1309 N. Bradley Road.
The organization will be hosting a similar event at the same time at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.
Supporters can drop off dog and cat food as well as cash donations to support the organization’s response services, said Isabelle Gullo, co-founder and executive director of CARE4Paws.
Gullo noted that life was difficult for thousands of pet families in Santa Barbara County before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and now, 20 months later, at least 8,000 families in the county. live below the poverty line.
“When people live in poverty, so do their animals,” said Gullo, noting that on average 65% of families have at least one pet.
She said that since the start of the pandemic, the number of pet families supported by CARE4Paws has grown to more than 20,000 per year.
“Pets are part of the family and people should never be forced to choose between caring for their four-legged family members and taking care of themselves,” she said.
To alleviate this problem, she said her organization is partnering with animal and human welfare organizations and, with the help of community donations, they are creating a safety net to help keep people and animals together. .
But as the economy slowly returns to normal, some pets find themselves homeless for the second time.
At the start of the pandemic, many people had to stay at home in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and many of those people adopted dogs and cats from local shelters to help them.
But now, as people return to their workplaces, many of these animals are being sent back to shelters again, Gullo said, prompting CARE4Paws to add animal adoption to the donation campaign. of Saturday.
In addition to dropping off donations, people can park to visit adoptable pets from groups such as ASAP, the Animal Shelter Assistance Program; Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society in partnership with DAWG, the Dog Adoption Welfare Group; and BUNS, the organization for rabbits in urgent need of shelter.
Other groups offering adoptable pets include Spark Rescue, Aussie Rescue Networking Group and Santa Barbara Humane, Gullo said.
Family photos with Santa Claus will be available from CARE4Paws, with proceeds going to their programs, and free photos will be given to anyone who adopts a pet during the festival, she said.
For the past 12 years, CARE4Paws has provided access to veterinary care, spaying and neutering services, pet food and supplies to low-income and needy pet owners.
In 2021 alone, the organization’s Mobile Community Medicine & Spay / Neuter Outreach team will modify and provide medical treatment to more than 4,000 pets for free or at low cost, Gullo said.
Its companion animal assistance program distributes several tons of pet food weekly throughout the county through the mobile clinic and distribution events with the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez County Food Bank. Valley People Helping People.
Pet food is also delivered directly to homebound seniors, senior centers, and low-income housing and, along with pet supplies, is provided at several pet resource centers across the country. company co-hosted by agencies such as Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, People Helping People and Good Samaritan Shelters.
Photos: CARE4Paws Helps Pet Owners Cope With Covid-19 Financial Hardships
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