I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity be a voice for our precious animals, God’s Creation, and for those many people who care about their welfare. Animals can teach us human beings a lot……..if we are open to it. The belief that dogs and cats are not compatible is a fallacy, as you can see in the photo. As it is with human beings, it depends on the individuals.

My first introduction to politics and how it can affect the animals in Orange County began in the 90s. Volunteering for the nonprofit, IDA or In Defense of Animals, I attempted to change verbiage in the ordnances in my home city of Rancho Santa Margarita from pet “owners” to pet “guardians.”  Words and labels are powerful and this change would help increase respect and compassion for animals. As a newbie to the political realm at that time, I did not get very far in my quest, but I still refer personally to these people as pet guardians. Since then, I have learned the importance of paying attention to city council meetings, for their actions, or inactions affect our everyday life more than the national elections.  Case in point, I woke up one morning only to find a sign that a car dealership would be built practically in my back yard, a decision made by the city council!

I volunteered at the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter and was “mentored” by Sharon Cody, former mayor of the city and primarily responsible for planting seed which led to the now model and well respected city shelter. (Cody was recently recognized by the city council for her many contributions to the city.) Since I wanted the same humane treatment for the animals in my home city, I began working with Laguna Hills resident Jean Bland, founder of the South County Animal Shelter Coalition – a 5,000 member group of activists focused on creating a new shelter in South County. We didn’t get a new South County animal shelter, but Laguna Hills and Rancho Santa Margarita fortunately now contract with the Mission Viejo animal shelter.

One of the most blatant examples of what I feel is ignorance, and quite frankly cruel, is Orange County Board of Supervisors allowing the single county animal shelter, which is 76 years old, to fall to such a dilapidated condition while earning no less than five OC Grand Jury Reports and several lawsuits. To this the OC Board of Supervisors basically reacted for many years with a “ho hum” and continued to claim they were working on it. Public records revealed otherwise. Meanwhile, the public, shelter staff and volunteers and the animals were exposed to unhealthy and unsafe conditions and animals killed for ridiculous reasons and in violation of the law. Consequently, I felt all the animals in Orange County deserved humane treatment which led me to becoming an activists for them also. But before you can help solve a problem, people must be made aware. …..and this is what I am able to do, thanks to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Voice of OC.

The OC Board of Supervisors have finally decided to move forward and at last a new county animal shelter is finally under construction, however as I reported,  independent oversight and transparency has continued to be a “challenge.”  So much so, they are willing to “stretch the rules” of the Brown Act and the California Public Records law in order to avoid it………… and the mindset has been followed by their “colleagues” in the contract cities. What are they trying to conceal?

We are “called” to be the stewards of God’s Creation and animal cruelty is considered so serious it is now tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There is a cultural shift about the way we think about animals, will Orange county get onboard?

California took a big step forward this year with the passing of the consumer and animal protection bill, AB485. California is officially the first state to ban puppy mills. But then came the recent egregious decision by Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, to lift the ban on importing trophy hunted elephant parts from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Let’s keep the momentum going forward, and not go backward, in this coming year.

Rose Tingle is an animal rights advocate and longtime Orange County resident.

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 TSears@voiceofoc.org

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