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The animals at Santa Barbara Humane have never met a donor quite like Ryan Cappelluti. This UC Santa Barbara undergraduate has the biggest heart, and his support of the dogs and cats at the local non-profit is one-of-a-kind, both in its origin story and in its ongoing impact. 

After Cappelluti and his girlfriend broke up, he decided to sell the two Lakers tickets he had for an 

Cappelluti is pictured with two “Brady Bunch” puppies at Santa Barbara Humane, who have since been adopted. | Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Cappelluti

upcoming game. Rather than pocketing the profits, his big heart pushed him in another direction. He asked his ex-girlfriend to choose an organization to receive the money as a donation in her honor. 

The choice of Santa Barbara Humane felt right because Cappelluti had grown up supporting animals. His family volunteered with Guide Dogs for the Blind during his childhood in Sacramento. His mother still volunteers with their local SPCA, and their family dog was rescued after a hurricane in Puerto Rico. “We have always adopted dogs,” Cappelluti shared. 

After making the initial $500 donation, Cappelluti said, “giving back felt good.” He was given a tour of the Santa Barbara campus, and he wanted to do more. 

Just days after his first contribution, Cappelluti returned to campus with another. And then another. Through his work as a valet in the Santa Barbara area, he had found another avenue to support animals in need on an ongoing basis. Cappelluti decided to donate all of his one-dollar tips to Santa Barbara 

Humane. Every few weeks, he will be back at the shelter to make his impact. 

“I have all I need, so this is something I can do,” he said. 

Cappelluti’s hundreds of dollar bills have already helped so many at Santa Barbara Humane, and this is just the beginning. 

“It’s inspiring to see a college student paving the way with commitment, creativity, and compassion,” Santa Barbara Humane CEO Kerri Burns said.

Santa Barbara Humane is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was one of the first animal welfare agencies in the country, 67 years before the national organization was founded. Santa Barbara Humane operates two campuses located in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, providing care for community-owned and homeless animals. Both campuses offer affordable, high-quality veterinary care, compassionate behavior training programs, and a relinquishment program for owners who can no longer care for their pets. Homeless animals receive medical care, shelter, and basic behavior training until their adoption. Because it is a local organization that is not affiliated with or funded by the national Humane Society or SPCA, Santa Barbara Humane relies on local donor support to ensure every dog and cat gets the care they need.


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