Faced with challenges operating three animal shelters, the Santa Barbara County Animal Services has temporarily closed its Lompoc shelter, with C.A.R.E.4Paws and Companion Animal Placement Assistance providing and expanding services to the community.

Animal Services will concentrate its staff and animal care services at the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara shelters, with the Lompoc Shelter to remain closed through Jan. 31, said Angela Yates, director of Animal Services.

The division has been considering ways to improve service to the Lompoc area while breaking free of the brick-and-mortar shelter model, and the closure will give Animal Services an opportunity to explore alternatives, she said.

“It’s important that the community understand that this is a short-term strategy that will allow us to gather community feedback as to how we can creatively provide more direct services to the Lompoc community,” Yates said.

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“We are leaning into this opportunity to gather data on how successful or sustainable some of our remote services could be in the future.”

Although the Lompoc shelter is temporarily closed, field services are continuing as usual, with an Animal Control officer assigned to the Lompoc area daily.

The full range of services is also being provided from the Santa Maria Animal Center, Yates said.

C.A.R.E.4Paws will increase services to the community by providing additional mobile veterinary clinics, offsite pet food distribution events, vaccines and licensing.

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“C.A.R.E.4Paws has been working in the Lompoc community for more than a decade and is always looking for opportunities to expand the services we provide for animals and pet owners in need,” said Isabelle Gullo, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit organization.

“We’re truly grateful for our strong partnerships with Animal Services and CAPA, which help ensure that more pets stay happy, healthy and in their homes.”

CAPA, which has served the Lompoc community through its partnership with Animal Services, will provide free microchips at the events through November and December.

Over the next three months, Animal Services will hold a series of stakeholder and community meetings to gather feedback and ideas on how best to deliver services to the Lompoc community.

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“We are working with industry experts to utilize new tools and community-based approaches and reinvent how we address pet homelessness in Santa Barbara County,” Yates said.

“We are sensitive to potential service gaps, but are looking forward to bringing more services into the community rather than the community coming to the shelter,” she said.

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Anezka Jahner, a volunteer from Santa Barbara, helps distribute donated pet food at a C.A.R.E.4Paws mobile clinic set up in early September at the Eagles Lodge in Santa Maria. C.A.R.E.4Paws and Companion Animal Placement Assistance are taking over and expanding services in Lompoc after Santa Barbara County Animal Services Division closed the shelter there.