Central Coast’s C.A.R.E.4Paws to Address Lack of Accessible Veterinary Care in Historically Excluded Community with Support from PetSmart Charities 

Central Coast’s C.A.R.E.4Paws to Address Lack of Accessible Veterinary Care in Historically Excluded Community with Support from PetSmart Charities 

Latino communities make up the initial cohort for the trailblazing grant program

San Luis Obispo County, Calif., May 16, 2023 – C.A.R.E.4Paws has received a grant from PetSmart Charities® in the amount of $120,000 to address challenges in accessing veterinary care in San Luis Obispo (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.

Rising costs combined with geographical and cultural barriers have left many communities out of the veterinary care system altogether. This grant program supports innovative and culturally relevant veterinary programs.

Early in 2023, PetSmart Charities, the top funder of animal welfare in the US, announced a $100 million commitment over the next five years toward improving access to veterinary care. One of these visionary new grant programs focuses on historically excluded communities, many of which lack access to food, housing, transportation, education and veterinary services. Latino communities were selected to comprise the first group of grantee emphasis.

“Oceano is a community that has chronically been without access to pet care of any kind,” said Isabelle Gullö, executive director and cofounder of C.A.R.E.4Paws, a nonprofit organization that assists pet families lacking resources in Santa Barbara and SLO Counties through its Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach program. “A large percentage of animals entering SLO county shelters come from Oceano and similar communities, and many of these pets are relinquished due to a lack of resources. The PetSmart Charities funding will allow C.A.R.E.4Paws to provide needed veterinary services through our mobile units to improve quality of life for Oceano pet families and keep animals in their homes.”

While 70% of American homes feature pets, access to basic veterinary services has not kept pace. This is particularly felt in communities that have additional barriers beyond cost, including language barriers and a lack of veterinary clinics in the vicinity. While 62% of Latino households own pets, accessing resources to keep them healthy and in their homes can be challenging. Instead of taking pre-planned solutions into selected communities, grantees will build relationships and assess specific needs, first. This ensures that communities that have been left out are deliberately included in deciding how and when they will access the healthcare they need for their pets.

“Most people today consider pets family, yet 50 million pets in the US struggle to access even basic preventative care such as spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations and annual exams,” said Kate Atema, director of community grants and initiatives at PetSmart Charities. “While this issue affects families in nearly every community, those who have been historically excluded from human social services are most in need of pet services, too. We’re proud to support this innovative approach that meets the unique needs identified by those living in the communities themselves.”

Since January, C.A.R.E.4Paws has spent time in Oceano building relationships and assessing pet wellness needs. On Sunday, July 9, the organization will launch its first free Pet Wellness Clinic at Oceano’s Parks & Recreation Department (1655 Front Street). Oceano pet families can receive vaccines, flea treatment, deworming medication, microchips and nail trims for dogs and cats from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM on a walk-in, first-come, first-served basis. Spays/neuters, health exams and other medical care require prior appointments.

“The bond between pets and humans is an incredible thing,” Gullö said. “C.A.R.E.4Paws’ goal is to keep pets healthy and with their families for life by ensuring that Oceano’s community members have continuous access to veterinary services. We are truly grateful to PetSmart Charities for this opportunity.”

To learn more about C.A.R.E.4Paws and its Mobile Community Medicine & Spay/Neuter Outreach, visit care4paws.org and care4paws.org/clinicservices. For clinic appointment inquiries and general questions, contact info@care4paws.org or 805-968-2273.

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