NewsLocal News


#SaveVader social media campaign helps stray pitbull in Santa Maria find a new home

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 11, 2023

Two months ago, a scared and abandoned pitbull named Vader ended up in the care of the Santa Maria Animal Shelter.

After weeks of going unadopted, a deadline was set for Vader to either find a permanent home or be euthanized. In response, the community stepped in.

“We didn’t want it to be a euthanasia. We didn’t want him to be a statistic of pitbulls that die in shelters,” said Sarah Aguilar, Director of Animal Services for Santa Barbara County.

She says when Vader was first brought into the shelter, he had a rough time adjusting to the new environment.

“Typically, we can help a dog transition through that and become more comfortable, more sociable. We can usually work on some different behaviors,” Aguilar explained. “With Vader, we didn’t see any progress. He actually started to get worse and really miserable.”

Aguilar says her team at the shelter then turned to social media, calling on the community to do what they could to support Vader and help him find a forever home. 

Shortly after, members of a Baja California-based animal rescue were en route to Santa Maria, to either welcome Vader into their pitbull sanctuary or get him adoption ready.

“We are going to bring him down there, leave him alone for a couple weeks and see how he does,” said Shorty Rossi, President of Shorty’s Rescue. “If he is good with everybody and he is adoptable, we will try to get him adopted out there. If not, he will be living life rightly at Shorty’s Rescue.”

While the team at the animal shelter says Vader had trouble adapting to the kennel life, Shorty’s Rescue adds that maybe all the young pitbull needs is a little change of scenery.

“I think this is a nervous boy. He is a good dog, a little misunderstood. He is about to get out of here because this kennel gives him a lot of stress, causing a lot of anxiety, which only exacerbates his problems and issues. Kennel life isn’t for all dogs, so this dog is going to benefit greatly from Shorty’s expertise where Shorty is going to house him,” said Kevin Cumiskey, Animal Welfare Specialist at Shorty’s Rescue.

Meanwhile, as the combination of rising temperatures, loud fireworks shows, and the ongoing kitten season contribute to a busy summer for the Santa Maria Animal Shelter, Aguilar admits that although Vader is moving out, dozens of other pets are still in search of homes.

“Networking and sharing these stories across social media and with people that, you know, that is what saved Vader. But for all these other animals, if you haven’t seen them, come into the shelter. You can volunteer, you can foster, you can adopt,” Aguilar told KSBY.

She says right now, the shelter is home to around 110 dogs, adding that the intake of a few more would put them at maximum capacity.

The shelter says community donations also helped them purchase a new kennel for Vader, which he will ride in on his way down to Shorty’s Rescue.