A friend whose 15 year old dog just died asked for help trying to find a new fur baby. She missed her best friend who was always happy to see her. Their walks kept her active, fit and connecting with neighbors. Her first thought was that she wanted a similar breed of pup, but then again maybe that did not matter, it would come down to the connection she hoped to make with the right dog.  Her last pup was a rescue that she saved from a high kill shelter.  It was the best decision she ever made and he was a faithful companion and stoic until his last days. 

How to find a new faithful companion?   I asked her to please try the Orange County Animal Care in Tustin.  The animals at OCAC have little chance to be seen and they likely will not make it out alive.  OCAC shelter is usually at full capacity, euthanizing many beautiful adoptable animals.

I shared OCAC’s website where a basic description and a picture of the potential adoptable friends are available. From there you can select two dogs / cats for an in person appointment.  Yes only 2 animals per visit! You would need make an appointment and go there about 117 times to see all the adoptable pets. 

OCAC is not allowing people to connect with the animals and is still closed after Covid.  Making it next to impossible for the animal that will look at you a certain way, or make an irresistible noise or waggle in delight of your presence, that connection can’t be had at OCAC as only 2 can be selected online for an in person visit, lowering the chance of a connection. The gas and time will be pricey but often pictures deceive and neither temperament nor personality can be discerned from a photo.

I asked her when she sees the 2 animals she will be limited to meet, to keep in mind the stress level of a caged animals in a chaotic and noisy environment where there has been limited opportunities for social interaction. To keep in mind with this isolation the animals become very scared and stressed.  But it’ll be fine, hopefully the isolation hasn’t affected them significantly, if you find one that you connect with hopefully a good home can counter act the trauma of the poor management at the shelter. 

My friend got a very confused and concerned look on her face and shared that none of that makes any sense, why can I see only 2 animals?  I want to find a new friend to share time, love and my home with, I don’t think seeing just 2 will get me the best fit or a connection. 

OCAC has the animals to bring joy to people looking to adopt.  They are failing as an animal welfare organization. Just like humans, companion animals are likely to socially deteriorate over time under the poor conditions, sometimes leading to a death sentence for behavioral issues that could and should have been avoided if they did not have COVID lock down policies still in place.

OCAC is a failure when it takes over 117 visits (and 58 online appointments) to see all the animals available for adoption, OCAC should be ashamed.  Quite simply our tax dollars should be spent at OCAC more wisely …

  1. Prepare companion animals under their care for placement in loving forever homes. Provide them with proper medical care, maximize opportunities for socialization and adoption, and address treatable (and possibly induced) behavioral issues positively and proactively. 
  1. Provide transparent and honest metrics that link to relevant performance goals. Like any other animal shelters, OCAC should be focused on successful outcomes which is placing animals in compatible homes. 
  1. Have the three (3) taxpayer funded empty surgical suites at OCAC opened and dedicated to low cost spay and neutering programs as well as restoring Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) programs.

Taxpayers spent 35 million to build the shelter and 29 million a year to fund the shelter.  The public should be allowed past the lobby doors when trying to adopt a pet.  The OC Board of Supervisors is responsible for oversight at OCAC, as are the 14 Cities that pay the OCAC for inexistent animal services they are supposed to provide.  The OC Grand Jury issued a new report saying the shelter needs to open up so the public can view the adoptable animals. And decrease the euthanasia.

Homeless animals and taxpayers deserve better. OCAC is collectively bringing down the moral compass of our entire county.  Shame on the OC Board of Supervisors for not stepping in over the past years of numerous complaints.

  • Over the last 5 years, length of stay increased over 100% for dogs and 60% for cats;
  • Euthanasia rates increased despite a 25% reduction in intake of new animals;
  • Return rates have increased for both dogs (10.6% to 11.7%) and cats (4.2% to 5.2%)
  • The numbers are going in the wrong direction.  Executive staff pay needs to be CUT and new management with open doors for the public to choose from all of the available animals is desperately needed.

It you are thinking of adopting please get an animal from OCAC before it is never seen again and put down.

Michelle Schumacher, Taxpayer, San Clemente

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