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Who is Four Paws to Love?

Four Paws to Love is an independent 501c3 animal rescue organization. Our mission is to rescue homeless and at risk pets from overcrowded shelters, thereby reducing euthanasia. See more on our About Us page.

Are you a part of the animal shelter on 7th Avenue?

We are not a part of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.  We work with the animal shelter in Santa Cruz in that we take animals into our program when the shelter becomes overcrowded or if they have an animal that has special needs that we can fulfill such as bottle kittens.  The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is publicly funded and operated by the county of Santa Cruz.  The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is tasked primarily with animal control and animal law enforcement, which includes the handling of licensing, lost/found animals, animal abuse, cruelty, and animal related complaints. They employ animal control officers who patrol the county and manage investigations. They also offer important public programming for low cost spay/neuter, adoption, microchipping, education, and more.

Are you a part of the SPCA?

No, we are not part of any local or national SPCA organizations. The local Santa Cruz SPCA is a private, non-profit organization that focuses on rescue, adoption, humane education, and community assistance. They provide the Santa Cruz community with comprehensive humane education programs for both adults and youth, assistance to low income seniors with veterinary care, and a free food bank available to anyone who needs help feeding their companions.

How is Four Paws to love funded?

Four Paws to Love is funded entirely of voluntary donations and a few small grants per year. We do not receive any funding through any county, state or national governments. 

Are all of your staff volunteers? 

Yes! All of our Four Paws to Love family are volunteers.  Our board members, President, Executive Director and office staff are all volunteers.  Most of us have "real" jobs away from our furry little friends. We do our work for our love and concern for animals and our adopters.  To see a smile on the faces of a family and their new pet is all the payment we need!


Do you have a shelter I could visit?

We do not have a building that you can visit.  Our program is completely foster home based.  Our animals are kept in the home environment so that we can better understand their personalities and needs. That way, we can match them with the best possible home and serve both the needs of the animal and your family. We hold adoption events every Saturday at General Feed & Seed, 1900 Commercial Way, here in Santa Cruz from 12-3pm.

Can I contact Four Paws to Love for medical or behavioral advise?

Although we are not medical or behavioral experts, we do have over 15 years of rescue under our belt.  We have seen and experienced a lot during this time. (We have some stories to tell!) We are sure we have not seen it all, but think we've come pretty close!  If you have any questions or concerns medically or behaviorally regarding any animal you have adopted from Four Paws to Love we might be able to offer some helpful advice.


Where do you get your animals?

All of our animals are obtained through our local and area shelters.  We assist other shelters by taking in animals when those shelters reach capacity and need space, thereby preventing overcrowding and euthanasia.

Do you know the history of the animals that come to you?

Unfortunately, we have very little background information on the animals that come into our care. Animals come to us from other shelters, which took them in mostly as strays. Even when an animal is surrendered by its owner to the shelter, we rarely receive information about the animal from the previous owner due to privacy laws. We are happy to share everything we know about the animal’s noted behaviors, health, and previous living situation if that information is given to us. We cannot, however, give any personal information from the previous owner unless we have permission to do so.

Do you take animals from outside of Santa Cruz County?

While our own county is always our priority, we find that some other shelters are not as fortunate within their communities. Some do not have as much funding, do not have several rescue groups that will take special needs cases and thus have more overcrowding. We go where we feel we are needed most, having rescued even from as far away as Mexico!

Are the animals always kept in cages?

Four Paws to Love is a foster home based organization.  Our animals are put into loving foster homes and are in cages only for a few hours at our adoption events. 

Do the animals receive veterinary care?

All of Four Paws to Love's animals receive veterinary care upon intake and get a comprehensive exam when they get their spay/neuter surgery.  We have a relationship with VCA Santa Cruz and highly recommend their staff as they are knowledgeable, experienced and super nice! We also have veterinarians that foster parent for us that help us with testing, spay/neuter, vaccines, day to day concerns and can offer emergency care.


Where do I go to see your animals for adoption?

Since we do not have a location you can come to during the week... Saturday is Caturday! We hold Adoption events every Saturday at General Feed & Seed, 1900 Commercial Way in Santa Cruz, CA.  For more information and a map, please go to our Adoption Events page.

What are your hours?

Our adoption events are from 12-3pm.  Otherwise, we can be reached anytime via email at info@fourpawstolove or by filling out our contact form. For more information and a map, please go to our Adoption Events page.

What should I bring to your adoption event?

*Please submit an application online by using the links above or bring your filled out .pdf application

*Bring your entire family (see next question below as to why).  

*Bring a kennel so you can take your baby home safely.

Why do you recommend that all family members come to the event?

It’s important that everyone who will be living with the animal be in agreement with the decision to adopt and with the animal that has been selected for adoption. It is also important that the animal selected responds well to everyone living in the home. Animals can react in different ways to different people, so having them meet all of the people currently living in the home, no matter their role, is a helpful part of ensuring a good match for the household.

Do I have to fill out an application before I can see the animals?

If you plan on adopting, please fill out an application so that we can match you with a potential pet that meets the needs of your family.  You can fill out an application online by following the links above. You are not required to fill out an application if you just want to visit our adoption event as we encourage socialization for our animals.  We also know that sometimes you just need a snuggle or two or three or...!

Will I be able to touch and hold the animals?

Absolutely!  We encourage people to touch and hold most of our animals so they will be used to people and make better pets.  If any animal does not like to much attention we will let you know, so it is always best to ask our knowledgeable staff before handling any animal.

Will I be able to see the specific animal I am interested in?

Most of the time that is possible, however, we cannot guarantee that a specific animal will be at an event.  Please contact us and let us know who you are interested in so that we can let you know if that animal will be there. 

Can I place an animal on hold?

No,  we do not place animals on hold.


Can I take my new pet home immediately?

Yes.  The only exception would be a kitten offered for pre-adoption, which means they have not had their spay/neuter surgery.  We would then delay their homecoming until their surgery could be completed.


What is your adoption fee?

We do not list our adoption fees online as they are subject to vary per animal.  Please contact us to inquire about a specific animal.


What does your adoption fee include?

The adoption fee includes spay/neuter surgery, microchip implant, microchip registration, FELV testing, age-appropriate vaccines, deworming, deflea, and a discounted veterinarian exam.  There is also an option for 30 days of free pet insurance.

Do you ever offer discounts on your adoption fees?

We are unable to offer discounts or specials on our adoption fees. We are a private, non-profit organization that relies strictly on donations and adoption fees to keep our program running.  Our adoption fees help recoup the costs we incur while preparing animals for adoption (spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, deworm/de-flea, etc.). These fees are much less than what you might pay for a "free" animal in need of spay/neuter, vaccines, micro-chipping, etc. We do not profit from adoption fees; they simply go back into the funds used to care for more animals before they are adopted out.

Can I adopt more than one animal at a time?

We highly recommend adopting two kittens. Two kittens keep each other company when left alone and burn off excess energy when playing with each other. They also will more likely develop a close bond and be forever companions. With adult cats, dogs and puppies we take each animal on a case by case basis.  We look at their personalities and decide what living situation would be best for them.  These observations will be noted in their profiles and you can get more information on each individual animal at our adoption events. 

Do you do adoptions to people outside of Santa Cruz County?

We prefer to adopt our animals into homes inside the central coast of California and our surrounding counties.  A very important clause in our adoption contract states that animals adopted from Four Paws to Love should be returned to Four Paws to Love if they are unable to stay in their adopted homes. We want to make it feasible for animals to return to us by placing them nearby.

Do you offer a foster-to-adopt program?

No, we do not offer a foster-to-adopt program.  You will have 30 days after you have adopted an animal to return them for a full refund if they are not working out for your family.

Do you guarantee the health of the animal I adopt?

While we do our best to adopt out healthy animals or make adopters aware of known conditions or concerns, we do not guarantee the health of any animal.


When will I get my paperwork?

Please allow 7-10 days after you take your new pet home for us to process your paperwork.  If  you have not received your email after ten days then contact

Should I get pet insurance?

We highly recommend it! The flyer in your adoption folder offers a free 30 day trial with PetFirst. We suggest you call the number on the flyer the day of the adoption since there is a 14 day waiting period for illness coverage to begin.(emergency coverage begins at midnight of the day you call) There is no obligation to continue coverage with PetFirst beyond the 30 days.  There is also a discounted offer through 24 PetWatch in our emailed adoption packet. Some employers also offer pet insurance along with your own health insurance, ask your employer if this is an option. There is a wide variety of pet insurance companies that you can choose from so compare plans to find the one that is the right fit for you.


*Four Paws to Love has no direct affiliation with any pet insurance company and has no control over their process. Please check any pet insurance company’s own independent terms of service and privacy policy which you will be subject to when using their services and we encourage you to review all such terms prior to making any commitments.

How do I get the discounted veterinary exam?

If you would like to take advantage of the $25 exam offered through any VCA Animal Hospital, go to and redeem the coupon that is offered through their website.

What do I do if my pet gets sick soon after the adoption?

As soon as the animal leaves our possession, the animal and its care become the responsibility of the adopter, whether or not the health issue could have begun or occurred while in our care. We do our best to notice and treat symptoms of illness, but sometime illnesses can go undetected because of incubation periods during which an animal will look and seem healthy. We encourage adopters to accept the free 30 days of pet insurance or purchase a pet insurance plan in case unforeseen accidents or medical expenses occur. However, please look at our Common Illnesses of Shelter Cats handout in your adoption folder.  If you see any signs or symptoms of these common illnesses within the first two weeks of adoption (before the pet insurance's 14 day waiting period for illness coverage ends) please feel free to contact us as we may be able to offer advise or medications. Please notify us if animals adopted from us begin to show symptoms of illness so that proper precautions can be taken with the other animals in our care.

What if I have to return my adopted animal?

We hope that all adopters will take their time and exhaust all other options before making the decision to return an animal.(check out our resources page for some options) However, per our adoption policy, we will ALWAYS accept animals that have been adopted from Four Paws to Love back into our program throughout the lifetime of that animal.  If the return is within 30 days of adoption all adoption fees will be refunded, adoption fees are non-refundable after 30 days.


Your donation page has two donation sections.  Which one do I use?

One section is for making outright donations using PayPal Giving Fund. These donations are made without any processing fees attached to them so that we receive 100% of the donation given.  The other section is for Adoption fees paid via PayPal.  Adoption fees are NOT considered donations since there are "goods" received for the fee.  There is a processing fee attached to this method of payment.  Anyone wishing to donate a couple of extra dollars to help offset this cost can add the amount to the adoption fee.

How do I donate to a specific fund or purpose?

If you are making your donation by check, simply add the fund or purpose to the memo section.  If you donate through PayPal Giving Fund, please contact us and let us know if you want those funds to be used for a specific purpose. Periodically, we have fundraisers for the specific medical needs of a rescued animal. If you would like to be notified when we have a special campaign please email us at

Are there other ways I can make a monetary donation other than online?

We gladly accept donations in person, or by mail. You can stop by in person at our adoption events or send your donation to  P.O. Box 7865, Santa Cruz, CA 95061.

What if I have food or other items that I would like to Donate?

We gladly accept items for donation at our adoption events.

How do I know my information will be kept private if I make a donation?

Four Paws to Love will never sell, share, or trade donor lists containing personal information, including names, email addresses, mailing addresses, or phone numbers, with any non-affiliated organization for their own purposes, unless donors have given us specific permission to do so. Review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service for more information.


What can volunteers do at FourPaws to Love?

Even though we do not have a location that we house our animals, there is still much to be done with Four Paws to Love. We need volunteers to assist at our adoption events, helping get animals to and from events and medical appointments.  If people can use a computer they can help with data entry and even volunteer from home.  See our volunteer page for more information.

How do I volunteer with Four Paws to Love?

Just fill out the volunteer application.  After reviewing your application someone will be in touch with you and explain more about volunteer opportunities.

How old do you have to be to volunteer?

We welcome people of all ages to volunteer with Four Paws to Love. You must be 14 years or older to volunteer as an individual and anyone under 14 can volunteer with a parent or other responsible adult.  

My school requires volunteer hours,  can I spend them with Four Paws to Love?

We would LOVE to help you with your volunteer hours!  Just fill out a volunteer application and, after we have reviewed your application, we will contact you and get you started. 

Can I fulfill court-ordered community service with Four Paws to Love?

We welcome most court-ordered community service with proper documentation. However, we cannot accept community service hours for violations involving: theft, drugs, acts of violence, forgery, sexual offenses, or crimes involving weapons.



How do I become a foster?

Becoming a foster parent begins with filling out our foster parent application. After we have reviewed your application, you will receive an email from our Foster Care Coordinator welcoming you to the Four Paws to Love foster parent program. You will be provided with our foster care handbook for you to review.  Our Foster Care coordinator will get in touch and answer any questions you may have and give you further information.

Once I’ve become a foster, how do I go about fostering my first animal(s)?

You will be notified via email from our Foster Care Coordinator about current foster opportunities. If you see a foster opportunity that interests you, just reply to the email.  It's that easy!

How long will I need to care for my foster animal(s)?

Every foster situation is a bit different and can vary in length. Before you take on a foster, we will do our best to make sure you are aware of the expected time period.



What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) device, not much bigger than a large grain of rice, which veterinarians can implant into many different types of pets. The microchip carries a unique ID number linked to the owner’s contact information that when read by a microchip scanner can quickly and easily help find out where the pet belongs. Microchips are NOT tracking devices. The procedure to implant a microchip is quick, easy, and relatively painless, similar to a vaccine injection; the chip is placed under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. It’s a permanent form of ID that lasts for the life of the animal. Four Paws to Love implants every animal that is in our program with a microchip.

What brand of microchip do you use?

The microchips we use are made by 24PetWatch.  Some animals come to us with another brand of microchip already implanted and we register that chip for you with 24PetWatch upon adoption.

Do I have to pay for registration?

No. We register your adopted pet's microchip with 24PetWatch free of charge.

More Questions

What if I have a question that is not covered in your FAQ?

If you have any additional questions please contact us.

FAQ: Four Paws to Love
FAQ: Our Animals
FAQ: Our Events
FAQ: Adoption
FAQ: After Adoption
FAQ: Donation
FAQ: Volunteering
FAQ: Fostering
FAQ: Microchips
FAQ: More Questions
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