Santa Barbara County Animal Services (SBCAS) along with a handful of local non-profits have opened up a pet resource center in Lompoc to offer assistance with pet food, supplies, and veterinary services.
Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne, along with non-profits like C.A.R.E. 4 Paws and many others, came together Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the center which aims to help those who are finding it difficult to provide for their animals.
"We've gone from helping about 7,000 pet owners in 2019 to helping more than 20,000 in 2020," C.A.R.E. 4 Paws co-founder Isabelle Gullo said.
It's a big increase that organizations say has to do with economic hardships because of the pandemic.
"Community members whether you are a senior, whether you are in a low-income household, whether you lost your job, to feel like you have to give up that friend or family member because of a resource that is expensive," Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said.
According to C.A.R.E. 4 Paws, in addition to the increase in pet owners coming in for assistance, pet food distribution has seen a huge jump from four tons yearly to four tons on a weekly basis.
Mobile clinics have also increased the number of services provided by 50 percent. They say they expect to do even more this year.
With the recent increase of new pet owners during the pandemic, they want to ensure people can keep up with the health and care of their animals.
"The resource center will have food for anyone who needs pet food assistance but also spay-neuter resources, low-cost medical care, free microchip, dog leashes, cat leashes, beds," SBCA'S programs manager Jessica Wiebe said.
A new pet resource center also opened at the county animal shelter in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. There is also one at the Santa Maria Shelter.
"Everything here is free. This is basically for the public. The idea is again we don't want anyone to have to make the decision of surrendering a pet and basically leaving a family member," C.A.R.E. 4 Paws Board President Christopher Harris said.
For more information on the different Pet Resource Centers, click here.