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Pet connections: A Central Coast social media group assists in pet shelter adoptions

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In 2020, individuals all over the state took a leap of faith and adopted furry companions to help them endure the ebb and flow pandemic life.

Colorado State University researchers released a report in November 2020 that found bonding with a pet during the stay-at-home orders reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.

PUPPY LOVE 805 Available Shelter and Rescue Pets latest success story is pairing Daisy with her forever family Kathleen and Justin LeClaire. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHLEEN AND JUSTIN LECLAIR
  • Photo Courtesy Of Kathleen And Justin Leclair
  • PUPPY LOVE 805 Available Shelter and Rescue Pets latest success story is pairing Daisy with her forever family Kathleen and Justin LeClaire.

Survey participants were questioned about how their relationship with their dogs affected feelings associated with COVID-19, and nearly 70 percent of respondents reported decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation—60 percent of cat owners had the same response.

According to the report, more than half of the respondents also reported that their canine and feline friends helped ease depression and anxiety and gave purpose to their lives.

The Central Coast also experienced a record number of pet adoptions in shelters in 2020 as locals sought a forever family member and the positive feelings that result. To make the pet-adoption process even easier, Facebook group 805 Available Shelter and Rescue Pets assisted in matchmaking humans with new pets.

Patricia Sly, founder of the Facebook group, works in partnership with shelters in Santa Barbara and SLO counties, group members, and other groups on social media to promote available pets in the area. The group focuses on pets in shelters, senior fur friends, pets that have medical needs, and "rehoming."

"We really try to highlight the dogs often looked over and get them into loving homes," she said.

Sly said she doesn't want to take any of the credit away from the shelters and everyone who's involved in getting these pets into their forever homes.

She began volunteering with the Santa Maria Animal Shelter on Foster Road when she moved to Orcutt around 2012. Her duties included spreading the word on social media when there were available pets, fostering pets, and transporting pets to their future homes if the owners-to-be were out of the area.

A rare arthritis prevented her from doing physical volunteer work, so in 2017, she created 805 Available Shelter and Rescue Pets to push her promotional pet posts into high gear. It was a way for her to continue her meaningful work.

"This group literally changed my life in so many ways. It started off so small with a couple of my friends, but it grew to other volunteers, rescue and shelter staff, and trainers because we all use Facebook," Sly said.

Since its formation, the group has grown to more than 2,600 members.

Sly recently went back to work full time, and 805 Available Shelter and Rescue Pets member Brooke Walsher helps post available pets, answer member inquiries for specific breeds of pets, and connects members with shelters.

"By sharing posts from pet rescues all across the area in our group, we help those looking to adopt, find pets outside their neighborhoods," Walsher said. "In the end, we are helping pets across the Central Coast find new homes and giving animal rescues an opportunity to share more personal details about pets available for adoption."

Sly said she completely agrees, because the original mission of the group "isn't about any one person, it's about getting these animals into a home in a comfy bed as quickly as we can."

Fast facts

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton both received an "A" grade in the Spring 2021 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a national distinction recognizing Tenet Health Central Coast's achievements protecting patients from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections. Sierra Vista has achieved consecutive A's every reporting period since the ratings first came out in 2012—only three hospitals in California and 27 nationwide have achieved straight A's since 2012. The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization committed to health care quality and safety. For more information, visit leapfroggroup.org.

SLO Food Bank, Slow Money San Luis Obispo, and the Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo are working together to improve the health of underserved Central Coast communities while expanding the demand for California-grown and locally produced fruits and vegetables. The three organizations will provide nutrition education through SLO Food Bank programs and expand local produce offerings at area school districts. For more information or specific program locations, visit slofoodbank.com or call (805) 238-4664. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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