Paws Up For Pets 

Inspiring compassion for animals from an early age


C.A.R.E.4Paws has worked with youth in Santa Barbara County since 2009 through our Pawsitive Thinking program. In October 2016, we launched Paws Up For Pets, an innovative education initiative that engages local youth to promote compassion for animals and in the community as a whole. A collaboration with United Boys & Girls Clubs and Davey’s Voice, Paws Up For Pets works with children K-8, and mainly children enrolled in afterschool programs in our county's most underserved areas. We empower youth to make a difference by showing others that they care about animals and by speaking up against abuse, bullying and discrimination. Our program tagline reads, “Compassion Counts!” Because when we teach our children empathy, we build caring communities.

Paws Up For Pets
Paws Up For Pets

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Paws Up For Pets
Paws Up For Pets

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Pawsitive Thinking
Pawsitive Thinking

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Paws Up For Pets
Paws Up For Pets

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Why Paws Up for Pets?


Paws Up for Pets was created in response to several incidents of severe animal cruelty in Santa Barbara County and a general concern that too few cruelty cases are reported—despite the proven connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. Also, local educators attest to the fact that too many children today lack empathy for others, as they grow up more engaged in electronics than with friends and family members. When you show children how to be respectful and kind to animals, the ripple effects are endless. Children feel empowered, and are less likely to harm a pet, hurt a friend or bully a classmate. And they bring these values into adulthood.

Campaign details

Through weekly workshops and special activities lead by C.A.R.E.4Paws’ bilingual Community Outreach & Youth Program Director, Carlos Abitia, and his team of volunteers (including several therapy pets), children learn about critical animal welfare topics, such as the responsibilities involved in being a pet owner, spaying/neutering, animal abuse, why animals end up homeless and that all animals are individuals, just like us humans. They have the opportunity to become role models for others and earn badges. 

Program accomplishments


On July 25 and August 2, C.A.R.E.4Paws graduated another 150 young and excited Animal Ambassadors through Paws Up For Pets. Seventy of the children, ages 5 through 12, attended a YMCA summer camp at Lompoc’s La Honda Elementary. The other half were children enrolled in summer camps at the United Boys & Girls Clubs’ Westside and Goleta units. C.A.R.E.4Paws has been working with these groups of kids since middle of June.

Altogether, 300 children have earned the Animal Ambassador Badge, or “Badge 1,” since the program launch in October 2016. This includes youth from United Boys & Girls Clubs’ Carpinteria and Lompoc units, the Chumash Reservation and a Goleta Girl Scout troop.

Paws Up for Pets badges and awards


Children can participate in the campaign at four different levels and earn Paws Up badges reflecting which level they have achieved. 

Animal Ambassador
To earn an Animal Ambassador badge, children are asked to:

  1. Participate in a Paws Up for Pets PowerPoint presentation. about animals and what it takes to be a compassionate pet caretaker.

  2. Take a 10-question quiz based on the presentation.

  3. Bring home and share with family members animal welfare materials from C.A.R.E.4Paws that include information about proper pet care, anti-abuse, spaying/neutering, and more.

  4. Interview a family member or neighbor about their view of compassionate pet care and turning in a short summary of the answers. A template will be provided.

  5. Participate in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Paws Up for Pets Youth Contest by creating an art project or poem on the topic of “Animals have feelings, just like us!” See below for more information.

Animal Advocate
To earn an Animal Advocate badge, students participate in a tour of a local animal shelter to learn how the shelter operates and see firsthand what happens when a family decides to give up a pet. After the visit, children can choose to virtually adopt a shelter pet and create a project about the animal. Or, as an alternative, students can research and write about the topic of “all pets are individuals.” All children will be paired up with a mentor that helps them with their project.
Animal Hero
Children who go above and beyond to promote animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, or stand up for an animal by reporting abuse or neglect, for example, will have the opportunity to earn an Animal Hero badge, and get an award from local city officals. These awards will be given out annually and will involve press coverage and other forms of recognition for the Animal Heroes.
Animal Leader
The Animal Leader badge is given to students who have completed the Animal Ambassador and Advocate badges and are interested in becoming Paws Up for Pets mentors for new students. The leaders will be working closely with C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Youth Program Director and after-school program staff to support other children working to complete badges one and two
The pawsitive effects

Our campaign aims to: 

  • Inspire a greater sense of compassion and respect for animals and other living beings.

  • Empower children in our community to speak up about neglect and abuse and to feel safe in doing so. There’s a proven link between animal abuse and family violence, and when children (and adults) report animal abuse, they could save more than one life. The ripple effects could be endless.

  • Promote the importance of spaying/neutering and provide free spay/neuter and other services to families in need. This way we will see a reduction in the number of unwanted litters of kittens and puppies, fewer animals in our shelters, and improved quality of life for pets and their owners.

  • Create awareness around shelter pets and the need for rescue/adoption. Through our shelter tours—more children will understand what happens when a family gives up on a pet. When children see pets as family, they are not as willing to relinquish their pets and let them languish—or die—in animal shelters.

  • Increase community engagement countywide and hopefully even on a state- and nationwide level. We hope that our campaign will serve as a model for other communities, state- and nationwide, in the years to come.

Meet our amazing supporters!
Leader: $10,000

Davey’s Voice, a Santa Barbara County 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2015 by Gretchen Lieff to honor Davey, a five-month-old puppy who had to be euthanized after enduring ongoing torture by his owner. Davey’s Voice was formed to speak out for future victims of abuse, and to educate the community so another animal does not have to suffer in silence as Davey did. Davey’s Voice supports projects and programs that promote animal welfare, reduce suffering, and save lives. Davey’s Voice advocates for harsher laws and stronger legislation against animal abuse. The nonprofit pledges to make Santa Barbara the most animal responsible county in California and to continue its mission throughout the United States and beyond.

Leader: $10,000 (Private Donor)

Ron & Betty Ziegler

Advocate: $5,000

Who's Walking Who Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Services visits with your pet(s) in the comfort of your own home, which allows for a less stressful, consistent daily routine and gives you the peace of mind that your pet is getting the quality attention it deserves by a professional with years of experience working with animals. The company offers regular dog-walking services as well as in-home pet sitting and pet sitting visits while you're on vacation or out of town on business trips.


Partner: $2,500

Avalan is a comprehensive wealth management firm that works closely with clients and utilizes a consultative approach to financial, business, investment and personal planning needs. Through its defined wealth management process, Avalan provides counseling for a limited number of high-net-worth individuals, closely held corporations, trusts and pensions. The firm's goal is to enter into long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships, which it develops to not only be lifelong, but multigenerational as well. Therefore, Avalan engages in new relationships only after its team determines that its services add substantial value in assisting clients to achieve their goals and all that is important to them. In every aspect of Avalan's work, the firm provides an uncompromising commitment to administer world-class client service while striving to accomplish each of its clients’ highly individualized wealth management needs.

Partner: $2,500 (Private Donors)

Cat Jagger Pollon
Stephen & Sharon Metsch
Scott & Ella Brittingham ($2,000)
Rebecca Kelber & Dexter Carpenter ($2,000)

Diana Basehart ($3,000)

Supporter: $1,000

Mission Wealth is a nationally recognized firm that serves over 700 families and manages over $1.2 billion. The founding vision for Mission Wealth was simple—to empower affluent families to pursue their financial and personal dreams. The company saw a need for something different from what other financial services firms provide, including independent advice; comprehensive and proactive financial planning; coordination with other professional advisors, including accountants, attorneys, and bankers; and an academic-based investment approach. Mission Wealth's continuous planning process (Integrated Wealth Solution®) encompasses financial planning, investment management, tax strategies, estate planning and risk management. This service model is designed to help you feel informed and on track with your goals. The company's industry awards serve as one small validation of the care and trust Mission Wealth places over its clients’ priorities and wealth. Mission Wealth is pleased to offer Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) to clients who wish to align their values with their investments.

Supporter: $1,000 (Private Donors)

Mission Wealth 

​Dan & Darcy Keep
Peter Halper
Stephanie Sokolove

Marilyn Makepeace


Alan & Anne Sides
Sharon Kantanen
Suzanne Martin-Reay
Elizabeth Karlsberg & Jeffrey Young

Leslie Bhutani

Nick and Donna Petersen
Trela Cowan