Tuesday 15 August 2023

Grand jury's scathing report of Orange County Animal Care, California rejected by BOS

A board of supervisors (BOS) is a group of elected officials responsible for overseeing county government. In Orange County a grand jury investigation of Orange County Animal Care (OCAC) in California has uncovered inhumane conditions but the BOS have rejected the findings.

They also revealed the killing of shelter animals despite there being empty cages and turning volunteers and adopters away by refusing to end pandemic-era closures. 

The OC Animal Care Shelter located in Tustin, California on June 17, 2023.
The OC Animal Care Shelter located in Tustin, California on June 17, 2023. Image: Hannah Okamoto / VOICE OF OC

That information comes from Nathan Winograd. In addition, I can report from the Voice of Orange County website which states that Orange County officials dispute the grand jury report on increased kill rate at the shelter.

The grand jury came to a majority finding that the county-run animal shelter needed to update policies such as increasing visits for residents.

And they found that the shelter has been euthanising animals at a higher rate than in previous years.

This latest report is part of an uncomfortable line of scathing reports; five over the past 24 years.

The latest report came out early on this summer and it echoes calls in the community to reopen OC Animal Care to the public, to reinstate trap neuter and release (TNR) programs and to reduce kill rates.

Nathan Winograd is critical of the BOS, whose role I mentioned in the opening sentence. I'm told by Nathan Winograd that the BOS passed a resolution disagreeing with almost all of the findings and recommendations. 

Among the many "breathtaking claims in its rebuttal, the BOS stated there is no link between refusing TNR and killing cats-even as OCAC does that very thing".

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, OC Animal Care suspended most of their walk-in services and introduced an appointment system in its place. And they also suspended the "catch-and-release" programme for community cats. I suspect that that is a reference to TNR programs for stray and feral cats in the county. Note that they suspended the program and didn't terminate or cancel it.

If it suspended then surely it can be reinstated?

I'm told that the kennel areas at the shelter are still mainly off-limits to the public except for a 2.5-hour period on Wednesdays and Saturdays when certain kennel areas are in fact open to the public.

The grand jury claimed that the adoption appointment system is restricted and it prevents potential adopters from viewing the animals easily. The county disagrees with those claims.

Animal advocate Sharon Logan commented in saying that the "themes" of the grand jury reports are always the same namely "lack of leadership and high euthanasia rates".

Logan is a local animal rescuer who, remarkably, successfully sued the county shelter over the shelter's euthanasia practices in the past.

The shelter is open to the public for five hours a week since the Covid pandemic. An Orange County resident, Margot Boyer, has started a petition to urge the shelter to entirely reopen the kennels to the public. The petition has surpassed 23,000 signatures.

She is pessimistic about the grand jury report because she believes that nothing will happen but at least the report was made which is more than what the BOS are doing.

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