In recent weeks, pet food pantries across Santa Barbara County have been running low on food for cats and dogs.
"There is a lot of people that, during the pandemic, struggled to feed themselves as well as their pets," said health educator for Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Esmeralda Medina.
She says in a five-month period, their pet food pantry in Lompoc assisted roughly 250 families, while the countywide demand for dog and cat food continues to increase.
"There were about 80 families that were relying on the pet food pantries to help their dogs and cats get food they need each month," said Paul Benedix, general manager of Lemos Supply and Pet Food. "The demand has increased by almost 50%, so there is over 120 families that rely on the pet food pantries to feed their dogs and cats."
In turn, numerous local organizations are working together this month to encourage pet food donations at the County's animal centers, or at participating Lemos locations.
You can find pet food donation bins at Lemos' Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Solvang locations, but purchases can be made anywhere. People can also bring in their own dry or wet dog and cat food to be donated.
"Each of the locations, we have got a great customer base. People who shop at our stores are, when they can, generous, and we are definitely seeing some traffic come in to support the program," added Benedix.
Medina says there is not a specific amount of pet food they are trying to collect in donations for the pet food drive, just that a donation of any sum goes a long way to keep their services going.
"We are very grateful for whatever somebody can give," Medina told KSBY. "We know that a lot of people want to help, but don't know how, or that they are not able to own an animal, want to help, but don't know how. This is a great way for these people and community members that want to be a part of this program and be a part of assisting community pets."
Santa Barbara County's pet food pantries are also provided at no cost to pet parents in the area. When available, they also offer other essential free pet supplies and services like conditioners for dogs and cats, leashes and harnesses, and occasional flea and vaccine treatments.
If you or someone you know is in need of food and supplies for their furry friends, all you have to do is call one of the animal shelters in Santa Barbara County, or visit them during business hours to be helped by on-site staff.