The COVID-19 pandemic has made finances tight for many people. Pet ownership isn't cheap between vet visits, food and supplies but a local non-profit is offering help to make sure once we clear the shelters, pets never end up back there.
Shelters, rescue groups, breeders and pet stores all report higher consumer demand than there are pets to meet it in 2020.
Our newfound time at home has people bringing home four-legged companions.
However, the pandemic has also brought financial challenges for millions of Americans and the expense of pet care means some newly adopted animals may end up back at the pound.
"C.A.R.E. 4 Paws was started in 2009 with a goal to reduce pet overpopulation keep pets with their families for life," Gullo said. "We welcome anybody to come. If they are struggling, we want to be able to help."
They offer low-cost vet services out of a mobile clinic.
"Now, we are running our clinic four to five times a week throughout the county so we're all the way from Santa Barbara up to Santa Maria," said Gullo.
Gullo says C.A.R.E. 4 Paws has provided as many services so far in 2020 as they did in all of 2019.
"The line of people that we see here every time we run our mobile clinic is just a sign of the times. People need our help," she said.
Inside the mobile clinic, a team of highly-trained vet techs and Dr. Tom Thompson performs free spay and neuter operations and other services for people's pets.
Christopher Valdez brought his four-month-old puppy Blu to C.A.R.E. 4 Paws for a surgery he says would have cost him $3,000 at a regular veterinarian's office. C.A.R.E. 4 Paws will take care of Blu for $150.
"They do a great job for a low cost," Valdez said.
Santa Maria resident Tihanna Portis has been grateful to C.A.R.E. 4 Paws since before COVID-19.
"I came to them before with two of my cats for their shots and they were just way cheaper," Portis said. "[They are] wonderful and super quick and super friendly!"
Walk-ups are welcome for vaccines, microchipping, flea control and pet food pick-up. Appointments for procedures and exams can be made over the phone.
Though the end of September, the non-profit is accepting new, unopened dog and cat food for theirpet food drive to help meet the growing need.
"We are distributing about four tons of cat food every week throughout the county and to compare, in 2019, we distributed about 2 tons in the whole year," Gullo said.
C.A.R.E. 4 Paws is helping the Central Coast clear the shelters and keep them clear by providing our furry family members with the care they deserve in exchange for all the love they give us.
"We are so excited to see all these pets being adopted through the pandemic and we really want them to be able to stay in their homes and not be returned to the shelter due to lack of resources so we're here," said Gullo.