An old lady and a man carrying a dog
To keep animals safe, healthy and homebound, C.A.R.E.4Paws assists more than 20,000 pet families in need annually through our programs (C.A.R.E.4Paws photo)

Noozhawk’s Four-Legged Friends and More Guide is officially here! We have sniffed out local businesses that best cater to the needs, health, comfort, training, exercise, and general welfare of our furry companions!

To provide a closer look at the pet establishments in Santa Barbara County, Noozhawk has conducted a series of interviews with representatives of local businesses for this year’s Four-Legged Friends and More Guide that will be sure to have your tail wagging.

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Julia Black, Marketing Specialist of C.A.R.E.4Paws to learn more about the services they offer to our four-legged friends in our community.


Question: What is the name of your business or practice?

Answer: C.A.R.E.4Paws.

Q: What is the mission behind your business?

A: C.A.R.E.4Paws is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission to reduce pet overpopulation, keep animals out of shelters and improve quality of life for pet families in need.

Q: What types of animals does your business cater to?

A: Dogs and cats.

Q: Can you describe the services or products your business offers?

A: Since 2009,C.A.R.E.4Paws has provided critical resources for pet families in need, including low-income, senior, disabled and unsheltered community members.

Our largest program is our Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach, which provides critical pet wellness services, including free and low-cost spays/neuters, veterinary care and vaccine clinics in our three mobile clinics. This includes two 26-foot units and one brand-new 37-foot mobile veterinary unit. Our clinic program operates in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo (SLO) Counties, assisting pet families directly in the communities where they live.

C.A.R.E.4Paws’ other service components include our Companion Pet Assistance program, which provides free pet food and supplies to pet families in need at several Pet Resource Centers countywide as well as during special events and (in limited supply) through our mobile clinics; and Safe Haven, a program that supports pet families exposed to domestic violence.

We launched Safe Haven in 2020 in partnership with Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County, as we realized that so many domestic violence survivors either stay in an abusive relationship because of a beloved family pet, or they are forced to leave their pets behind, which leads to more suffering for the animals. Our program provides temporary foster care or boarding for companion animals, allowing survivors to seek safety from abuse without having to fear for the well-being of their four-legged family members.

We also provide innovative humane education through Paws Up For Pets, showing youth how to be great pet caretakers and promoting kindness to all living beings.

Q: What makes your business unique?

A: C.A.R.E.4Paws is the only animal welfare organization on the Central Coast that works directly in the community to provide critical wellness services to the pet families that need it the most. For example, we know that having access to veterinary care improves the lives of pets and their people. Yet, for so many families, gaining that access is difficult unless pet wellness services are brought directly to a family’s neighborhood. This is exactly what our Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program does in Santa Barbara and SLO Counties.

Having access to veterinary care improves the lives of pets and their people. Yet, for so many families, gaining that access is difficult unless pet wellness services are brought directly to a family’s neighborhood. This is exactly what C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program does in Santa Barbara and SLO Counties (C.A.R.E.4Paws photo)

The human-animal bond is so powerful, and we want to do all that we can to help preserve that bond. Thanks to C.A.R.E.4Paws’ boots-on-the-ground approach we have a steady presence in the community, assisting pet families right where they live.

Speaking of being boots on the ground, we have received a grant from PetSmart Charities to address challenges in accessing veterinary care in SLO County’s city of Oceano, where 42% percent of community members are Hispanic and the per-capita income is less than $34,000 per year. C.A.R.E.4Paws is one of 10 animal welfare organizations in the United States to receive this new, innovative Access to Care grant. We will host regular free Pet Wellness Clinics for pet families in need, starting on Sunday, August 6. Oceano residents can sign up at

Every year, C.A.R.E.4Paws evolves to make sure we’re meeting the community’s needs. For instance, when the pandemic started, we began distributing several tons of pet food weekly, compared to two tons distributed total in a typical pre-pandemic year. Between the start of the pandemic through the summer of 2023, we have provided more than 1.2 million free pet meals!

Since 2019, we have increased the number of critical mobile pet wellness services provided annually by 150%, assisting more than 13,000 dogs and cats per year with vaccines, spays/neuters and medical care. Overall, we have tripled the number of pet families we help annually to ensure that animals stay healthy and with the people who love them.

C.A.R.E.4Paws is also unique in that we collaborate with dozens of other agencies and organizations to make sure we can help as many pet families in need as possible. Apart from our partnership with Animal Services in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties as well as all local animal shelters and rescue groups, we work closely with human welfare agencies, pet services providers and other businesses.

Q: What training, education and experience do you and your staff have?

A: We have a highly trained veterinary team that runs our Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach operations, including a veterinarian who’s worked in the field for more than 40 years. Overall, having operated C.A.R.E.4Paws for 14 years, our team has gained tremendous experience in the animal welfare industry and when it comes to working with pet families in need.

Still, we are adamant about always evolving our practices and protocols to better serve the community, and we encourage and pay for continued education for our staff.

Q: What is your level of expertise regarding pet health and behavior?

A: Our team has worked in the community since 2009 to help thousands of animals with a variety of services, including vaccine clinics, spaying and neutering, medical care, distribution of pet food, grooming (for dogs of the unsheltered) and behavioral training.

Q: How do you manage behavioral problems?

A: As part of our Companion Pet Assistance program, as funds allow, we offer free dog behavioral training for low-income pet families to make sure dogs don’t end up in a shelter due to behavioral issues that the owners cannot manage on their own.

Q: Are you currently accepting new clients?

A: We are always here for pet families in need and continuously assist community members through our programs. For our mobile clinics, which is our largest service component, we get dozens of calls and emails every day so our schedule fills up fast, but we try our best to get pets booked as quickly as possible.

It’s important to note that C.A.R.E.4Paws isn’t designed to be someone’s regular or permanent veterinarian. Our goal is to support pet families going through a tough time. With that said, we do know that tough times can last for years and we absolutely do not want an animal to suffer if we can help the pet family through one of our programs. 

Q: Can you name a few common reasons animals end up in your shelter?

A: Many pets end up homeless due to lack of resources to provide proper pet care, because of behavioral issues that are hard to manage, or due to pet overpopulation, issues that C.A.R.E.4Paws addresses with our free and low-cost services. Lack of pet-friendly housing is another big problem that contributes to animals ending up in shelters. After COVID, we also see an influx of animals from other counties, and some of these animals are being relinquished to our shelters.

Sometimes pet families need help temporarily as they are going through a transition, whether it be hospitalization, a move, or rehab, for example. C.A.R.E.4Paws tries to assist whenever possible, but we need more funding and foster families to be able to help on a greater scale. It is too large of an issue for one organization to tackle, especially as we don’t have a space to house animals. Our community as a whole needs to work together to come up with solutions that keep more pets out of shelters and with the people who love them.

The human-animal bond is so powerful, and C.A.R.E.4Paws does all that it can to help preserve that bond (C.A.R.E.4Paws photo)

Q: How do you help make your client feel at ease leaving their pet in your care?

A: We have a very kind and compassionate staff and volunteer team, and that goes a long way when it comes to making clients feel comfortable leaving their pets with us. It’s also important to let people know what to expect through the process and from the services they receive.

Q: Are you a nonprofit? Do you accept donations?

A: C.A.R.E.4Paws is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and we do accept donations.

Q: How do you keep the public informed about your business or service(s)?

A: We have an informative website and very active Facebook and Instagram pages. We also partner with dozens of other agencies and local business that help spread the word to those in need. For special events, we often post flyers and send press releases to the media.

Q: What is the typical cost of your service(s) or product(s)? Do you offer any payment plans or discounts?

A: Most of our services are offered for free or at low-cost for low-income pet families.

Q: What are your hours of operation?

A: We operate our mobile units four, five or more times per week throughout Santa Barbara County and about twice a month in San Luis Obispo County, for now.

Q: What is one fun fact about your business?

A: Our founders are all former shelter volunteers, but C.A.R.E.4Paws is not a shelter or rescue group. We are here to prevent animals from ending up homeless by providing critical resources to pet families in need in the community. Our goal is to keep pets healthy and with the people who love them.

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell our readers that was not mentioned above?

A: Our new mobile clinic is finally here! This 37-foot unit comes with a double surgery suite, additional work and kennel space and more equipment, allowing us to significantly increase the number of pet families helped. Join C.A.R.E.4Paws for the official ribbon-cutting at our Mobile Clinic Launch Pawty on Sunday, August 20, at The Maker’s Son in Los Alamos. From 2pm to 5pm, enjoy delicious appetizers, wine and beer and tours of the new clinic! In addition to celebrating the clinic launch, the event raises funds and friends to support our Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach and the critical wellness services we provide for pet families in need.

In the spirit of preventing suffering and keeping pet families together, we invite the animal-loving community to join us as we Walk Against Abuse. Our second annual event will take place on Sunday, October 1 at Elings Park from 11am to 2pm. The Walk Against Abuse supports C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Safe Haven program, which provides temporary foster care or boarding for pets of domestic violence survivors. We hope to see your smiling faces and wagging tails as we kick off day one of Domestic Violence Awareness & Prevention Month in an exciting and impactful way. Learn more about and sign up for the walk, with or without a dog!

Click here to learn more about C.A.R.E.4Paws.