Foothills Sentry: OC Animal Shelter Bolstered by City Sign-Ons

The following is a story by the Foothills Sentry newspaper, a Voice of OC media partner covering Orange, Villa Park, Orange Park Acres, Anaheim Hills, North Tustin, Silverado Canyon, and Modjeska Canyon.

This story was published in the Sentry’s June 2016 edition

The cities of Orange, Villa Park and Tustin renewed their service contracts with OC Animal Care and agreed to pay a proportional share of the costs to build a new animal shelter on the former Marine Corps Base.

Under the agreements, Orange will pay $2.467 million; Villa Park, $46,000; and Tustin, $791,000. The cities’ shares of the $30 million facility were determined by historic usage and services provided. Orange County is supplying $5 million and 10 acres of land. The remaining costs will be borne by the 14 OC cities that have agreed to contribute, and signed 10-year service agreements.

The county set aside the $5 million for the new shelter in 1995, but was unable to proceed because it had no place to put it. When the Marine base in Tustin closed in 1999, the county cast its eye on 10 acres there, but the U.S. Navy has not relinquished that property.  The South Orange County Community College District managed to procure a portion of the acreage, and agreed to swap its in-hand parcel for the land the county will eventually be allowed to buy from the Navy. The county will lease the college district parcel for $1 per year in the short term.

With the land issue settled, the county is now on fast forward to get the overdue shelter completed. It has entered into a design and build contract with Snyder Langston LP, and ground is expected to be broken in July. “It’s not going to be a ceremonial groundbreaking,” Animal Shelter Director Dr. Jennifer Hawkins reports. “We will have plans in place and begin construction right away.”

“The Board of Supervisors has made the replacement of the shelter one of our top priorities,” said  County  Executive  Officer Frank Kim. “I am pleased at the work Dr. Jennifer Hawkins and Community Resources Director Steve Franks have put in to get us to a place where we can begin moving forward.”

Part of the urgency was spurred by two Orange County Grand Jury reports that assailed the state of the facility, the level of animal care, poor management and the county’s overall disregard for substandard conditions that it has known about for years.


Hawkins disagrees with many of the grand jury findings, noting that every animal that comes in receives compassionate care, and that the shelter’s primary goal is to place unwanted pets – dogs, cats, rabbits, even turtles and chickens – into permanent homes. “We have a comprehensive community outreach program, and work with 180 rescue groups to get these animals adopted. We have a 94 percent live release rate for dogs.”

The 74-year-old shelter is indeed in ramshackle condition, but it is clean and its charges are groomed, well fed and exercised. (see Animal Shelter, page 18).

The county is working closely with its contract cities and rescue organizations to design and scale the new shelter to meet current and projected needs of the communities, and ensure the physical health and social well-being of the animals that transition through its doors.

The new shelter is expected to open in 2017.



  • Sharon Logan

    There may be “180 Rescues ” currently on file to be partnered with OCAC but out of those “180”rescues that applied and are on file to rescue from OCAC, less than 20 of those “180” Rescues are actively and consistently rescuing the dogs from OCAC.

    OCAC also claims to have over “200” volunteers, those may be the people that applied and are on file as volunteers but out of those “200” volunteers on file, all I have seen in three years are the same active 15 volunteers.

    Keep Spinning.

    While Hawkins continues to spout a live release rate of over 90% percent for the dogs, which is clearly false, Hawkins has never proven or backed that up with the raw data, why actually change your kill rate when all you have to say is you did? Show the public and the tax payers of OC they over 90 percent live release rate of dogs with the Raw Data.

    In conclusion though OCAC has implemented a highly touted new shelter intervention program once again the Raw Data does not lie, we have received our June Euthansia Report from OCAC via court order and its shows for the last 2 months the Euthansia rate has gone up by 1/3.

    Why have the Euthansia Rates gone up by 1/3 in 2 months, with a shelter intervention program in place?

    What is really going on at OCAC? OCAC can spout off and spin all they want, but they can’t refute the Raw Data and that is why OCAC has not provided any Raw Data to the public and tax payers to back up their absurd and blatantly false claims of the numbers of current active rescue partners, current active volunteers and the real live release rate of dogs which is around 65% not 94%.

  • Catherine Turley

    i have first hand knowledge that these animals do not all receive compassionate care. and, week after week, i’ve seen dogs scheduled for euthanasia due to “behavioral and medical issues” walk out of the door with the help of rescues only to be evaluated as devoid of these issues. the problem with this shelter is systemic. until you scrutinize every step of the process, and make drastic and necessary changes, the shelter will remain dysfunctional, the advocates will remain critical, and the public will continue to be unsatisfied.

  • Last year I provided documented proof that OCAC used distorted and incorrect data to report both their euthanasia rates and their licensing compliance rates. After months of ignoring my findings, they finally admitted their guilt, but denied that it was intentional. Recent follow-up research on their licensing compliance data shows that they continue the practice of using incorrect data to promote their own image, making the compliance rate look higher than it actually is. OCAC cannot be trusted. It is good that they are finally getting rid of the old shelter, but the supervision, management, and practices will continue, and these are the bulk of the criticisms made by the Grand Jury. A pig with lipstick and a dress is still a pig.

  • Danna Cruzan

    Funny that the numbers provided by OCAC do NOT match the numbers several people receive due to a HUGE lawsuit OCAC lost. They do NOT have a 94 percent live release rate for dogs. THAT IS A TOTAL LIE! Numbers do not lie. AND the fact that they kill healthy adoptable dogs when they have 100s of empty kennels. They also kill dogs at day 0, that means they have no time for their owners to find them if lost nor any time to be adopted. This place needs to be SHUT down and Jennifer Hawkins fired. They have a dog right now that they have had for 34 days and will not let the family see the dog. This dog should have been let go home after a 10 day quarantine due to an incident, but OCAC and Jennifer Hawkins follows ONLY her own rules. Please help us SAVE LEELOO! Sign this petition: Thanks so much!