Success Stories


When Xylo’s prior owner passed away, no one was left to care for him. The groundskeeper found him and noticed he was barely moving. It was unknown how long he had been neglected. He had severe muscle damage and was barely able to stand. Upon arrival, he was covered in urine, feces, and maggots, but was still full of purrs and love as if to say he was grateful and ready to be healed.

Xylo was one of the toughest cases to arrive in 2020. Maggots were eating his skin and he was unable to urinate on his own. His fur was clipped and he was bathed and comforted before receiving intensive care. The medical team carefully removed the parasites, relieved his bladder blockage, and planned supportive care for his recovery.

In just a few short weeks, Xylo fully recovered! His determination was unmatched, and all hearts at the shelter were touched by his survival. He loves people and was happy to just sit in a lap and be brushed. He found a loving home soon after with an understanding adopter who was ready to provide all he needed.

The adopter reports that today Xylo is healthy and happy! He is a very affectionate cat who loves his new home and sits by his dad’s bed meowing when he wants breakfast.

Your donations provide veterinary care and adoption for thousands of special animals like Xylo. With your help, animals get the second chance they deserve.

Gigi & Chica

Gigi and Chica were relinquished to the Santa Maria campus. Unfortunately, their owner passed and there was no one to take care of the girls. It became obvious that Gigi could not see the world around her. This was due to a chronic condition called dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Gigi’s tear production had been affected for so long that the eyes had scarred over and were very painful. Her sister Chica was acting as a “seeing eye dog,” leading Gigi around. The two could walk and even run without any issues for Gigi. 

The most humane option would be to remove Gigi’s eyes that were causing so much pain. The surgery was a success! In no time, she was running around and playing. It was clear Gigi had been very uncomfortable before, and now, without any pain, she was free to be a dog again. Gigi and Chica soon found a wonderful home. They report the dogs have brought so much happiness to their lives!


At just six months old, Toby the Chihuahua suffered a broken leg. This poor energetic guy was hurting and his owners who loved him so much could not afford the medical costs associated with his break. They came to the Santa Maria Campus medical clinic for help.

Radiographs were taken of the injury and he was given pain medications. The break was so severe that amputation was his best option. Because of our donors and supporters in this community, most of the cost of Toby’s surgery was covered. A team member even fostered him for two weeks post-op through his suture removal. His family was thrilled with the support and even more grateful Toby was going to be okay. Today, Toby is thriving in his home and has adjusted very well. Overall, his family shared he’s a happy boy and nothing seems to hold him back. His family told us how thankful they are for programs like these.

Miss Kitty

Miss Kitty is an eight-year-old Snowshoe cat who was surrendered to a community partner when her owners could not afford to help her. She arrived with long hair, beautiful eyes, and a heart of gold, but also with a host of conditions that made her very uncomfortable. Miss Kitty had a toenail missing, tapeworms, evidence of fleas, fractured bones in her ankle, and even some puncture wounds.

Local Board Certified surgeon Dr. Hilary Ludwig stepped in to help. She determined the best path for Miss Kitty would be to administer antibiotics, provide flea and deworming medications, and perform an amputation. Dr. Ludwig knew this kitty deserved a chance. She contacted Santa Barbara Humane and asked if she could transfer Miss Kitty to the shelter clinic where she would come in and perform the necessary procedures for free.

The plan to help her heal was a complete success and Miss Kitty was made available for adoption. After a brief stay with the shelter team, she was adopted into a new family. Community partnerships enable many opportunities for animals in need just like Miss Kitty.


If Stella didn’t have such a beautiful black coat, we could have named her Goldilocks. Poor Stella was in a “porridge too hot—porridge too cold” scenario. After being adopted and returned multiple times, she simply couldn’t find that home that was just right. Stella was one of those dogs who doesn’t just adore her family; she loves them so much that she had a hard time being alone. She wasn’t territorial and was happy to share her humans, but she wanted to be with them always. Great on car rides and walks, Stella was as happy as could be as long as she was at their side. Luckily, Stella and other homeless animals like her can take the time they need to find the right match, and they also have a place to return if it doesn’t work out. In August, Stella found her home with an adopter who understands her unique needs. He is as eager to spend time with her as she is to be with him. And she lived happily ever after.


One-year-old Chihuahua mix Spencer learned that the world is not such a scary place. When this shy guy was surrendered to a Central California shelter with his mom Sonia and his sister Sasha, he was fearful of everyone and everything. Sonia was quickly adopted, but Spencer and Sasha continued to wait in the overcrowded and underfunded facility. Through our transfer partnership program, they were brought to Santa Barbara Humane to access our comprehensive and compassionate behavior program. Here, the shelter team introduced them to helper dogs to build their confidence. Sasha was adopted after a few weeks, but Spencer still needed more time. A month of additional one-on-one attention made all the difference. He learned how to play, walk on a leash, and approach people. With a wagging tail and a new lease on life, Spencer was adopted into a happy home.


Seven-year-old Ruckus’ parents care deeply about his well-being, so when he began shaking his head and his ear puffed up, they brought him to Santa Barbara Humane for help. They did not have the means to pay for his care, but thanks to donors like you, the TLC Fund bridged the gap so Ruckus could get relief.

Ruckus’ physical exam revealed a collection of blood in the cartilage called a hematoma. Luckily, our medical team was able to perform surgery to repair it at no cost. When the family returned for his suture removal, Ruckus was good as new!


Training is about more than changing behaviors. It’s about relationships and confidence, too. Just ask Leila.

After waiting months for her perfect match, six-year-old Labrador Retriever Leila developed a loving bond with her adopter. A short time later, Leila started to show signs of reactivity to other dogs in her new neighborhood, and her adopter turned to Santa Barbara Humane for support. 

Barking, howling, and pulling are behaviors that Santa Barbara Humane training classes are designed to target and address. After Leila and her adopter enrolled in a class, they quickly discovered she loved clicker training! The whole family bonded over their nightly “homework” and began to see a real difference in Leila’s behavior. Her adopter said the “watch me” command, in particular, changed their walks—and their relationship—for the better. 

Her adopter wrote, “Leila has improved so much so that when we encounter other dogs she immediately sits, makes eye contact with me and is seemingly saying ‘Mom, where is my cookie?!?’” Her adopter also shared that Leila has made two dog friends in their neighborhood. Way to go, Leila!


Snowy was in pain when he arrived at Santa Barbara Humane. He had been neglected, sleeping on a blanket in a garage, and was suffering from painful open wounds on his ears. Luckily for Snowy, generations of donor support have made it possible for Santa Barbara Humane to welcome animals in need, provide them with medical treatment, and give them time to heal.

Snowy was promptly examined by our veterinary team who provided immediate relief by removing the tips of his painful ears. A biopsy later identified that Snowy suffered from a chronic inflammatory condition requiring a course of antibiotics, ointments, steroid injections, and flea control. Throughout his two-month stay, we saw Snowy heal physically and then also watched in amazement as this once aloof cat’s loving personality emerged. Snowy definitely appreciated the comforts of the shelter and daily attention and cuddles. We kept this in mind when we matched him with a new family who keeps him indoors and lavishes him with love.

Boba & Itachi

Supporters like you gave a transformative gift to Boba and Itachi: a safe space to learn to love, free from fear and loneliness. These Border Collie brothers had been purchased as puppies and lived isolated in a backyard, away from human touch for the first year of their lives. They arrived at Santa Barbara Humane in need of individualized, compassionate support.

At the shelter, with careful handling from the animal care staff, Boba and Itachi slowly felt secure enough to let their guards down. Our qualified behavior team worked with them for nearly a month to build confidence and teach them how to love and be loved. Though still timid, their skittish panic and confusion evolved into an adorable, curious energy. Best of all, they learned to thrive independently and seek human companionship.

Boba went to a happy home first, and his brother Itachi found his own loving family the very next day. Together, we help Boba, Itachi, and all animals like them experience the joy and comfort they deserve.


Your support also helps animals with more intense medical needs, like a sweet Lhasa Apso mix named Ziggy. When a member of the community found a small, severely matted, filthy dog in his driveway at 4:00 a.m., he knew he had to do something. He brought him to the Santa Maria campus for help. Ziggy was clearly in pain but eager to feel better. His matted hair impeded his movement, he smelled, and worst of all, he had a piece of old twine wrapped around his snout. It was partially embedded, leaving his skin raw and irritated.

Support from people like you made it possible to provide him with comprehensive medical treatment, a bath, and grooming. There was an adorable, charming dog underneath all the matted fur and grime! 

Ziggy still has a tough road ahead of him. He needs treatment for anemia due to his prior flea infestation and he has dental disease.

But Ziggy’s future is bright because of donors like you. After the required 72-hour stray hold, he was given a chance at adoption and he quickly went to a happy home that will ensure he gets the care and attention he needs. When you give, you make sure that all animals get their chance at love, health, and happiness. They are counting on you!

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