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Orange County animal shelter puts bureaucracy above animals

Anyone who believes the best way to create a more humane society is to give a government “helping” agency more money ought to look at the county’s apparently misnamed animal shelter, Orange County Animal Care. The agency claims to care for dogs and cats, but its bureaucratic foot-dragging is harming the animals it’s responsible for protecting.

The shelter has been a source of controversy since the 1990s, with four grand-jury reports detailing at-times troubling conditions – excess euthanasia rates, poor leadership, inadequate kennel care and overcrowding. The county championed the classic big-government solution: In 2018, it built a $35-million shelter in Tustin.

A fancy facility can’t change a callous mindset. After the pandemic, the shelter has refused to re-open – offering only a limited number of appointments for pet-seekers and for people looking for lost pets. It allows few walk-ins. This reduces the chance that someone walks by a kennel and is smitten by a pup or kitty. Animal-welfare activists believe this leads to unnecessary euthanasia.

Agency officials say they adopted this format to slow the spread of COVID-19 and deal with staffing shortages. They say “the dogs are much calmer without the constant chaos of people walking by their kennels. In-shelter bites are way down,” per the Register. Seriously? Of course, dogs are calmer and there are fewer bites when few people are around.

The rest of the world has opened up following the pandemic and many businesses are creatively dealing with staffing shortages. Why don’t animal “care” officials just admit that it’s far easier for them to scale back public operations?

The shelter has dramatically reduced the number of strays it has accepted since the beginning of the pandemic, per the newspaper. It is relying on volunteer animal-rescue groups to shoulder the burden. Instead of just accepting animals, officials counsel people to advertise the animals on social media. Lol. There’s no point in having an agency that refuses to do its job.

County supervisors need to open the shelter’s doors – or outsource its operation to private groups with a record of actually caring about animals.

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