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Animal shelters in Santa Barbara County see surge of pets

Yogi and Sandy need a home
Posted at 6:11 PM, Dec 05, 2022

Santa Barbara County Animal Services took in 117 more animals this November compared to last year.

“In the last month, we've seen a mixture of everything, but our highest number would be our strays. I think a lot of people don't know where to look when they miss their animal,” said Esme Medina, Community Outreach Coordinator for Santa Barbara County Animal Services.

Last week alone, they took in 87 pets and on Saturday, 33 were adopted. The facility in Santa Maria can host about 100 animals at a time.

“I would have to say that the influx of that would be a result of housing as well as people moving out of state, moving out of this community, as well as open gates with kids going back to school,” Medina added.

If someone believes they lost their pet, they can call or stop by the Animal Services shelter or even look for their pet online.

The county does partner with agencies including Santa Barbara Humane to house some of their animals.

Bethany the dog at Santa Barbara Humane
She is up for adoption.

Kerri Burns, the CEO of the nonprofit, says they also saw an increase in intakes this year.

“We've seen a slight intake over the last year. We've seen a 25% increase. However, our adoptions are also up by 30%, and I attribute a lot of that for animals not entering Santa Barbara Humane because of our safety net programs.”

Burns says this is part of a national trend.

“Research has shown that the numbers of animals coming in shelters is still not at the same level it was in 2019. The problem is not many animals are going out as they were in 2019, so this is creating kind of a backflow or a backlog of animals in shelters,” she added.

Both the Santa Barbara County Animal Services and the Santa Barbara Humane say they saw an increase in people surrendering their animals around the holidays as well.

“I think as we get towards the end of the year, we may see more of an increase in intakes coming in again because of transitions while people move the first of the year, new jobs, those types of things,” Burns added.

At County Animal Services, they do not expect to see the number of pets coming in to slow down.

The pets featured in this story include bonded pair Yogi and Sandy from County Animal Services as well as Bethany the dog and Mr. Gray and Naranja the cat (respectively) from Santa Barbara Humane.