Santana: OC Animal Shelter Born From Engagement

Theresa Sears

Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett announces new animal shelter with her colleagues.

People really can make a difference.

That’s what ran through my head this past weekend after watching Orange County Supervisors on Friday hold a thoughtful groundbreaking on a new modern animal shelter in Tustin. It replaces the oldest animal shelter building in our region, a WW-II era structure in Orange that had become an embarrassment after nearly a half dozen critical grand jury reports in recent years.

Now, while county supervisors really do deserve credit here for thinking long term and offering taxpayers a better future vision and facility for animal care, all of us should also send a hearty thanks to Rose Tingle.

Rose Tingle

I first met Rose a few years back when she first came to speak at the Orange County Board of Supervisors weekly public meeting about the dismal conditions at the county animal shelter.

She challenged supervisors during public comment to understand that animals feel pain, arguing it’s below us as a county to keep animals that are in public care in substandard cages and facilities. Tingle also wanted to show a video to back up her contention but was cut off at the speakers’ podium and left frustrated.

I followed her out that day and told her she could present her arguments and video at Voice of OC as often as she liked as we were expanding our opinion section to allow residents like her to challenge local government in an open forum.

Rose certainly took me up on that challenge.

She wrote her first editorial in September 2013, eloquently challenging supervisors to “imagine yourself as one of the many scared and confused animals who enter that shelter every day.”

“It is clear the residents of Orange County, as well as the animals, need and deserve a new shelter or shelters,” Tingle wrote.

She spent the next few years regularly challenging the entire county to step up its services, posting regular op-eds about the animal shelter and fueling several grand jury probes, I think, with her persistent and thoughtful questioning about the need for a new facility.

Grand jurors here also deserve a ton of credit for staying on top of the issue and pressing the county in report after report.

It made a difference.

I know personally that Rose’s constant writing on the issue certainly got under the skin of several county supervisors and county executives who bristled at her coverage of the shelter issue.

But Rose’s pen and the grand jury also got them thinking.

Both touched supervisors’ human side and challenged them to do better.

And they have.

When Rose started writing a few years ago, the issue of a new animal shelter was considered politically dead.

It wasn’t going anywhere.

This past week, county supervisors held a groundbreaking ceremony on a new facility.

Again…thanks Rose!

Thanks OC Grand Jury!

And believe it or not, Rose, the same guy that shut you down that day as chairman of the board of supervisors, Shawn Nelson, is the same guy who came up with the idea of swapping out some public land in the county portfolio to get the animal shelter proposal moving.

And it’s probably because you got under his skin and challenged him to think.

Nonetheless, Nelson stepped up.

And his colleagues backed him

So it may have been messy at times, but hey, you’ve all made a key difference in the history of Orange County!

I was especially heartened to read a recent editorial in the Voice of OC by Orange County CEO Frank Kim about the county’s future plans for the animal shelter, a far cry from where the county was several years ago.

I hope Kim’s efforts find a good response from animal rights activists and also fuel a potential movement to take over the old animal shelter and use it as a non-profit base to coordinate with the county shelter.

One of the reasons that San Diego’s public shelter works so well is that there’s a strong civic non-profit community working closely with the public model.

I’d like to take this opportunity once again to invite anybody with a take on local public policy or what’s happening around your streets to submit op-eds as Rose Tingle did.

Opinion journalism does make a difference.

Reach out directly to our Involvement Editor, Theresa Sears at and also keep an eye out for upcoming announcements on training sessions we’ll be holding on how to really engage with your local government.

Most recently, we worked with County Auditor Controller Eric Woolery to hold a popular session called “Accounting for Activists” where we helped people dive into local government finances.

We had such great feedback on our inaugural session that more are on the way next month in addition to other public training sessions – like how to access public records – that we are currently developing with the help of the California Endowment.

Again, enabling people to engage their government makes a difference.

Homeless & the OCTA Bus Terminal

Indeed, lets talk people…

Now that OC Animal Care has gotten some much needed attention, county supervisors should now work to refocus headlines back onto people.

Homeless people.

People who still need a shelter over their head and some sort of human reception when they wash ashore at the county Civic Center grounds in downtown Santa Ana.

It’s been months since county supervisors agreed to invest $3.5 million in purchasing an abandoned OCTA bus terminal building for what many hoped would be the entry point for a continuum of care for homelessness in Orange County.

Yet nothing.

Despite suddenly uprooting encampments at the Civic Center in recent months by erecting construction walls around public buildings, supervisors haven’t done anything to inform people of what’s being done, much less set up services at the nearby bus terminal like they did during the winter months.

It feels like they just keep embracing chaos no matter what kinds of alternatives are being offered.

Hoping for an explosion?

You would think that a Republican county supervisor running for reelection in the First District, like Andrew Do, would have his fellow colleagues back him up in setting up a compassionate and effective homeless services response center in the heart of Santa Ana – where his Democratic opponent (Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michelle Martinez) has yet to show much progress on combating homelessness from her city perch.

You could have had campaign themes contrasting a Republican strategy that actually responds to homelessness vs. the Democratic zeal for just learning to live with it.

But nothing…

I’m starting to wonder whether Do has lost his colleagues support, given competing pressures, things like parking or the coming trolley development.

Do has yet to walk out of closed session with his colleagues and announce much of anything in terms of a vision for an empty $3.5 million semi-covered bus terminal in his own district just yards away from where throngs sleep outdoors at the Civic Center.

Ironically, helping out Do is helping out themselves.

Yet it may be too late.

Instead of investing in real accomplishments earlier this year on a homelessness strategy, it seems Do and his colleagues instead invested their time and money more into festivals, mailers and statues.

Forget people.

Staying Relevant

This past week, Supervisor Todd Spitzer took issue publicly with comments on a PBS SoCal broadcast with Inside OC’s host Rick Reiff, where I appeared on a panel earlier this month with the Orange County Register’s Brian Calle and OC Ethics Commission backer Bill Mitchell.

At Tuesday’s public session, Spitzer warned his colleagues that they better tighten up procurement deadlines because people like me are increasingly arguing the board of supervisors is irrelevant.

Yet publicly policing procurement contracts and vendors – which offers unique (even questionable) campaign finance advantages for supervisors – is just half the job.

If the Orange County Board of Supervisors doesn’t really dive into their business model – health and human services – they might as well go the way of the Dodo.

Now this past week, with the animal shelter, county supervisors showed they can effectively move a public policy agenda and produce real quality of life results for taxpayers.

They should continue to seize on that momentum by looking out their front window and really confronting the homelessness situation with a real response center.

Again, helping others – ie: providing regional services – is county supervisors’ best collective case for staying relevant…and alive as an institution in the 21st Century.

Servant leadership.

  • Jean Einum-Bland

    Rose Tingle has been truly amazing re. all that she’s done through the Voice of OC and otherwise to make the horrendous condition and mentality of the 74 year old OC Animal Shelter relevant for the OC Board of Supervisors! It had been a relevant issue for the community for many years, yet continued to be ignored by the OC Supervisors who were supposed to be voices for the community. Rose introduced me to Voice of OC and I’m delighted that I can now participate in this very effective resource for voices from the community. You also mentioned the multiple OC Grand Juries who worked so hard on this issue over many years and they do deserve our gratitude and support as well. We also need to remember to thank Philip Cheng, the Performance Audit Director of OC for his Final Report # 141505 dated March 24, 2015 containing 108 pages and 34 recommendations regarding the operations of the OC Animal Shelter at It’s wonderful to finally be getting the new animal shelter but we still need to regularly monitor the function of that new shelter for dramatic improvements for the residents of OC and their pets.

    • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

      Indeed! Everything you have said, agree.
      Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
      I am grateful for all the sunny people.
      Animals do not vote but animal lovers sure do.
      And there are many in Orange County.
      Just sad and sorry it was too late for the ones that were executed, through no fault of their own for being at the pound, just sheer bad luck.

  • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

    Thank you for all who are the voice for animals! Rose, Saskia, Voice of OC! Thank you all so much!

    Those critters that find themselves at the pound, are usually there through no fault of their own. People put them there and people should go the distance to make sure they are safe, cared for, so they can have a better life. Bar none.


  • 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 data analysis from 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.

    • David Zenger

      You are quite correct. The County has erected a wall around itself, and no, you are NOT invited to come in. Talk about “engagement” is pure BS and I wish Norberto would cut it out. The only thing these politicians respond to is public pressure and public embarrassment. That’s not engagement in any useful sense of the word.

      • Saskia Boisot

        Thank you for recognizing the barriers faced here…We have provided endless examples of egregious behavior, again all meticulously data-driven, only to be ridiculed and ignored. I am astounded by the inertia. That being said, they should rest assured that we will not be going anywhere…

        • David Zenger

          Inertia? That’s the ONLY thing that keeps the County going. Check out Newton’s First Law of Motion: every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

          In this case the external forces were the animal advocates and the Voice of OC.

          • Saskia Boisot

            But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

          • David Zenger

            Yep. That’s why y’all get so much push back.

        • David Zenger

          Sorry to forget: Thank you for your efforts.

      • OCservant_Leader

        Well said. They are very hostile to the idea of public viewing inside their walls aren’t they?

        They have been in power so long they feel entitled to the public’s money.

        The employees know all the scams and could really expose and stop this entrenched corruption if they were empowered.

        Psst- Rose -Check the Rendering Contract!

        P.S. Thank you Animal activists and VofOC for shaming the BOS on behalf of the abused animals.

        • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

          Ugh. Baker Industries in Vernon, Ca? Where dead pets become dead pet mush soup with collars and euthanasia drugs in the big mix, all for cheap pet food companies to then use as pet food? Which was why pound for pound, big dogs, were, are first to go. More cash per pound.

          Give cows cows to eat, mad cow disease.
          Give chickens chickens to eat, bird flu.
          Give pets euthanized pets to eat ….
          So wrong. Serious ugh.

          • OCservant_Leader

            Aha! Yes. Shock! There is a profit arm to this operation – that’s why ACS was slipped under “pork parks”.

            ACS is supposed to be under the Health Agency because of the disease threat…but not in OC. If there is a profit to be be made the “family” controls it.

            They have been infighting for 50 years about who gets to profit off the new shelter. In meantime they funnel all funds for ACS operations into salaries at the top. It’s their business model.

            There are a lot of Politicans at the County who need $200K per year – where do you think the money comes from?

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            Only one word. Wow.

  • Saskia Boisot

    I do commend Rose for her tenacity and persistence in this fight, and I think it’s great to see her work recognized. However, it is noteworthy that while the new shelter “groundbreaking” ceremony shown in the top picture collage was taking
    place, the dogs in the bottom picture collage were all killed at OCAC over the space of
    three days, and these are only the VISIBLE dogs killed (not including
    all owner requested kills). For anyone who thinks that a new shelter
    facility is going to change the face of this epidemic of killing, think
    again. The irony of this photographic juxtaposition is so beyond
    ridiculous, I cannot contain my cynicism…

    • Saskia Boisot

      I guess my pictorals are not publishable on this site.

      • Judy Allen

        On my Facebook page, I was saddened to tears upon seeing pictures of the MANY dogs slaughtered at this sickening “shelter” during the three days you mention, Saskia. Without a total change in staff there will still be slaughters when rescues are available to help and lies are told about the number of casualties! This gut wrenching situation is SO far from civilized these days when “No Kill” is being implemented all around the USA. What is wrong with Orange County residents who allow this killing to persist?

  • April Josephson

    Thank you to Rose for her unending advocacy and support, and to the current Board of Supervisors for their efforts to make the new shelter happen now. There will be a paradigm change when everything moves to the new facility. The plans will incorporate major changes to bring a facility that addresses what we expect in compassionate animal care. Operations will be very different once there is appropriate state-of-the-art infrastructure. Community engagement is an integral part of the plans that I have seen, and am advocating for in my volunteer role.

  • Sharon Logan

    Thank you Rose Tingle, without your advocacy and activism on behalf of the shelter animals the new shelter would have never come to fruition.

    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.

    • Jean Einum-Bland

      Thank you Sharon, for all that you have done and nobody knows the mentality and statistics of the County Animal Shelter better than you do thanks to your legal challenge to them to provide data to you. You are so right that so far all the evidence points to this shelter not being able to be trusted to provide any meaningful change in mentality, for the better, as evidenced by the County maintaining the secrecy of their meetings with representatives from their member cities that continues to bar the public from knowing anything about what decisions are being made regarding ongoing policies and procedures at the shelter. Everyone needs to remember this and express themselves through their their votes when each one of those County Supervisors is up for re-election.

  • David Zenger

    Credit to Ms. Tingle and the Grand Jury.

    But governance through bad PR avoidance is no way to run things. Just waiting for the next fiasco.

  • John Claxton

    Let’s also give much credit to the Voice for giving us the forum to address our concerns through comments from your wonderful stories that spot light our elected’s actions or inactions. There were a couple of other writers that made significant efforts at the OCR – and wrote wonderful stories about the counties malfeasances. However, the county pulled a couple fast ones and got the unions to get them off the BOS’s backs by hiring them as their spokeswomen with hefty salaries. Let’s just hope Norberto is not for sale.

    • OCservant_Leader

      I too hope Norberto is not for sale!

      Yea – Jennifer was digging too deep at the County. I recall her last assignment was the County’s Retirees “consultant” contracts. Ugh oh.

      How they are paid by multiple Agencies using different business/non-profit “fronts” to funnel the funds into the Elite’s pockets- for decades.

      It must be $100’s of Millions a year- the taxpayers are losing to this scam alone.