Kim: Modern Animal Shelter is Milestone Moment for Orange County

Orange County Supervisors (Andrew Do, Shawn Nelson, Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Vice Chair Michelle Steel, Todd Spitzer, lft to right) break ground on a modern county animal shelter.

Orange County celebrated a truly momentous occasion this week with the official groundbreaking for our new Animal Shelter at the former Tustin Marine base. Enlight1-20


It was so heartening to see the smiles in the crowd as we were finally able to commemorate the start of something that we’ve planned for and anticipated for decades—a process unfortunately stymied by difficulties in obtaining land at the base, which closed in 1999.

All that is behind us now as we look forward to opening a truly contemporary facility that will provide a superior space for the animals in our care and for our dedicated staff, our hard-working adoption partners and the public eager to find new family members.

Therapy dogs, volunteers, former and current county staff all join in the celebration.

Therapy dogs, volunteers, former/current county staff all join in the celebration.

Our Director of OC Animal Care, Dr. Jennifer Hawkins, put it best when she characterized our current shelter and the new one as comparing apples to oranges. There is so much we have wanted to do but haven’t been able to at our current facility in Orange. We’ve done the best we could with an aging, outdated and cramped facility—thanks to our caring and creative staff whose love for animals is evident every day.

Here are some of the things we’re excited about offering in the new facility, which at 10 acres is more than twice the size of our current shelter:

– A large lobby and customer greeting space for staff and volunteers

– Indoor climate controlled bathing and grooming areas

– A volunteer resource center, public information classrooms and meeting facilities with capacity for up to 200 people

– Indoor/outdoor dog kennels in climate-controlled buildings with sound dampening systems to reduce stress

– Enhanced cat condos, featuring natural light and larger kennels; two large group cat housing areas with “catios” or outdoor patios to reduce stress

– Multiple dog exercise areas

– Three surgical suites and multiple pre-operative and post-operative recovery areas

– Animal intake, redemption and adoption areas split into separate areas for increased efficiency

– Segregated examination areas in the veterinary clinic for cats and dogs

OC Public Works and our builder, Snyder Langston LP, are working cooperatively to expedite design and construction of the facility to open as quickly as possible. A design review board is advising us on what’s needed, including representatives from our 14 contract cities, rescue groups, the shelter’s Community Outreach Committee, OC Animal Care staff and the veterinary community.

We also will be hosting public forums to obtain further input from interested members of the community. If you’d like to be notified of the forums, please send an email to OC Animal Care Assistant Director Katie Ingram at


None of the celebrating would have been possible this soon without exemplary collaboration between OC Animal Care, OC Public Works, the City of Tustin, our partner cities and the South Orange County Community College District, which facilitated a land swap at the base so we could get started sooner on the project.

It’s also worth noting how far we’ve come: The shelter in Orange opened 75 years ago as a “dog pound” with 25 kennels. It was run by the County Pound Master who lived on the top floor of the current administration building. The County has invested millions of dollars over the past 75 years to improve the facilities there, drive more visitors to the shelter, increase the speed and efficiency of adoptions and licensing, and save more underage animals.

In 2015, more than 9,000 animals were adopted from OC Animal Care and more than 3,200 pets were reunited with their owners.

We will continue to focus our efforts on the care, adoption and reunification of orphaned, injured and lost animals, as well as investigation of animal cruelty cases, protection of public health against animal diseases, pet licensing, and public education and outreach.

As we celebrate this historic achievement in Orange County, it’s with the knowledge that quality stewardship of animals is our responsibility and continuing mission.

Frank Kim is CEO for the County of Orange. 

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at


  • Saskia Boisot

    Here is a link to the euthanasia data analysis for October 2015 alone. We will soon be releasing the analysis for the full 6 months, which will be available on our slideshare account too.

  • Saskia Boisot

    Here is how animal activists are viewed by the Board of Supervisors and OCAC upper management. We appeared at the March 22nd Board of Supervisors meeting and each gave speeches addressing various issues at OCAC, whereupon OCAC through Frank Kim was directed to address our individual claims. The link below demonstrates the level of resistance to change by the administration try at every turn to discredit any assertion we make. Their total contempt for cold hard data is unparalleled, since everything we have stated is based on information generated entirely by them, as procured through public records requests. All the raw data, including the euthanasia lists provided to us as part of Sharon Logan’s lawsuit, are available to view directly on our slideshare account. If anyone cares to question the validity of this data set, then that query is best addressed directly to OCAC, since they are the ones providing the information.

  • Saskia Boisot

    Please visit this link to see all the evidence to show what really is going on at this facility. This is the culmination of over a year’s worth of work, and is entirely based on hardcore facts, not just hearsay. Please educate yourselves and take the time to read the DATA, much of which was procured through public records requests from OCAC directly.

  • Extensive research done by me and others clearly demonstrates that as the size of a shelter increases, admissions and kill rates increase. Recent data in California shows for shelters under 1000 admission per year, the kill rate averages a mere 7%. From 1000 to 2000 per year the figure is 10%. From 2000 to 5000 it jumps to 17% and from 5000 to 10000 it jumps again to 30%. With more than 10,000 admissions per year the average kill rate is 37%. By building a single shelter that will admit 20,000+ animals per year, the County dooms us to a high kill rate. The proper thing to have done is to build 3 shelters.

  • Sharon Logan

    While Frank Kim’s article conveniently leaves out the fact that OCAC kills 1/3 of the animals that enter OCAC on a monthly basis, that is quite a high number and OCAC wants the public to think that per the Hayden Act the 1/3 of the animals killed at OCAC monthly fall under, behavorial, temperamental, disease, injury or congenital hereditary condition.

    The public is aware that OCAC kills out of convenience and with hundreds of empty open kennels, please address how this is going to be fixed by building a new shelter?

    It is the policy of this state that no adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home unless it has manifested a sign of behavorial, temperamental defect or a sign of disease, injury or congenital hereditary condition. The state policy is clear that unless one or the other of those exists there is no basis to euthanize the animals.

    We know that the OCAC like many municipal shelters for the reasons we just discussed, claiming lack of resources, but also because they simply become callous and let’s face it, if it’s a job that you do day in and day out, it doesn’t take you long to figure out that the less animals you have to be accounted for and take care of the less work you have.

    “The law is the law, for the next two years as of the 10th of every month, I and Sharon will be receiving as the court designated people, a list and identification of all animals euthanized in that prior month and we can choose at random whatever 5 animals we want further documentation on, so we will be looking over their shoulder and I assure you quite carefully, and that should have at least some kind of effect on the people working there. This is a battle that we will have to continue to fight.”

    I think that in time, over a 2 year period, should have some effect on putting in place these procedures they have agreed to, learning to live with them and hopefully coming to the understand that doing it the right way produces more forever homes for these animals, and makes you feel better about yourself than doing it they way they have been doing it.

    Howard Finkelstein, Attorney for Paw Protectors Rescue speaking on live on air radio
    October 08, 2015.

  • Sharon Logan

    OCAC claims that there are 180 rescues partnered with OCAC.

    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 15 of those “180” Rescues are actively and consistently rescuing the dogs from OCAC. That’s the part Hawkins conveniently leaves out , of the 180 rescues that are partnered with OCAC how many of those are currently and actively rescuing from OCAC? keyword here is Active.

    If Hawkins is trying to claim that OCAC currently has 180 rescue partners rescuing at OCAC currently and yet via the court ordered Euthanasia Data they have to provide us every month, between 500-700 animal are still being Euthanized at OCAC every month, OCAC euthanizes an average of 1/3 of the animals that enter their shelter, does Hawkins really want the public to believe with over 180 rescues partnered with OCAC, that OCAC still has to Euthanize 1/3 of their animals every month and with 180 active rescue partners with OCAC that 35 percent of the dogs are still being Euthanized at OCAC while 60-70 percent of the cats are being Euthanized every month, because that would really show how incompetent and ineffective the director, management and staff at OCAC really are. Hawkins spouting off on public record does not remotely relate or coincide with the raw data.

    While Hawkins continues to spout a live release rate of over 90% percent for the dogs, which has proven to be clearly false by several people including a Lake Forest City Council Man, 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, residents, citizens and the tax payers of OC the over 90 percent live release rate of dogs with the Raw Data.

    In conclusion though OCAC has a highly touted new shelter being built, what is going to change about Hawkins misleading the public regarding OCAC Euthanasia Rates, License and Compliance Rates, the continued killing of healthy adoptable dogs with over 100 empty open kennels,
    The real number of Active Rescues currently rescuing out of OCAC, how many times has Hawkins after a hearing officer has ordered a dog to be returned to their families has Hawkins overturned the decision of the hearing officer and has tried to declare a dog viscious so she may destroy the dog?

    We were contacted by the owners of a pit bull this week that had been confiscated by OCAC, the hearing was completed and the hearing officer wanted to release the pit bull to the owners and once again Hawkins over rode that decision and is now trying to have the pit bull declared viscous and destroyed, that story will be going public next week.

    Those are the things that need to be addressed because even with a new shelter in place with Hawkins and some
    current Management and some Staff at the Helm, the practices I mentioned above will continue the only diffence will be the location.

  • Sharon Logan

    OCAC can build a new shelter, but without Hawkins and upper management gone the killings will continue – just in a fancier environment. We need progressive minds running OCAC

    Almost all of the complaints about OCAC and animal care relate to issue of management, policies, false statistics, high kill rates, etc. None of these will be impacted by a new building. Having a new building is a good thing, but hardly addresses the real problems. Moreover, by building a single building to serve all of OC, we are guaranteed a high kill rate and poor service. No county of our size has a single shelter.

    A New shelter is needed and good but the Director at OCAC, Management and Staff need to stop going against the Hayden Law and start having hearts with more compassion for the animals. That is not going to happen with the current Director, some Management and some Staff that are currently in place at OCAC

  • UnitedWeStand

    The most honest statement made by a supervisor appeared in the L.A. Times; “There was just never the will and leadership from previous boards to make it happen,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. And who would the previous supervisors be; Pat Bates, Todd Spitzer, Bill Campbell, John Moorlach, Janet Nguyen, Chris Norby who continually blamed the delay for not building a new animal shelter on the Navy. Where did these politicians go after leaving the Board of Supervisors…….to higher political offices.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Right – It wasn’t until Karma the Wonder Dog debacle brought National shame to the OC did the all powerful “Family” throw the animals a bone.

    Nice to see the two BOS’s Executive Assistants who got filthy rich doing nothing for decades.

    Thank you VofOC!

  • David Zenger

    The only thing the County is really good at: self-congratulation.

    Frank, how about some love for the animal care activists and the Voice of OC that gave them a forum? Without them shaming the County that place would have stayed a vacant lot for years.

    So typical.