Paws Up For Pets 

Learn about Paws Up For Pets in this video.

Inspiring compassion from an early age


Since 2009, C.A.R.E.4Paws has worked with youth and their families in Santa Barbara County 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, Paws Up For Pets works mainly with children K-8 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. 

The story behind 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

Since the program launch in October 2016, we have graduated hundreds of Animal Ambassadors and Animal Advocates from across Santa Barbara County. This includes students from United Boys & Girls Clubs in Lompoc, Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara's Westside; the Lompoc YMCA at La Honda Elementary School; Girls, Inc. in Carpinteria; the Chumash Reservation's Learning Center; Arellanes Junior High School; and Girl Scout Troops. 

We continue our work with many of the same as well as new afterschool-care programs and are very excited about the success of Paws Up For Pets and how it grows with every year. 

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 generous sponsors and grantors! 




The Santa Barbara Humane Society (SBHS) is not only a sponsor of Paws Up For Pets, but has been a generous supporter of C.A.R.E.4Paws' Spay/Neuter Program since 2010, granting us $22,000 annually. In fact, the SBHS was our very first Spay/Neuter Program grantor and also assisted us equip our Spay Mobile when we first acquired the vehicle in 2012, donating more than $25,000. Recently, the SBHS contributed $10,600 in additional funding to support C.A.R.E.4Paws' work in north county. The SBHS, founded in 1887, is dedicated to the welfare of animals and strives to provide a safe haven for homeless dogs and cats until they are able to find forever homes for them. 


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.




The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise is made up of local business, professional, and civic leaders. They meet regularly, get to know each other and form friendships, and through that they are able to get things done in both local and global communities. The club is active in local service projects, including a free dental clinic that provides critical care to the underserved in our community. It purchases and distributes free dictionaries to all 3rd graders in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and recognizes at-risk youth at La Cuesta Continuation High School with a Student of the Month program. It also engages in hands-on improvement projects at Camp Whittier, part of United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County. Internationally, the Sunrise club supports a children’s orphanage and surgical eye clinics in Mexico in addition to funding clean-water projects, medical clinic improvements, and a pharmacy project in two rural communities in Nicaragua. The club meets for the “best breakfast in Santa Barbara” every Wednesday at 7am at the Historic Santa Barbara Club. For more information, call 805.884.6428.








Contact Us

Tel: 805.968.CARE (2273)



Mailing address:
P.O. Box 60524
Santa Barbara, CA 93160

©2019 by C.A.R.E.4Paws 

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