Local Government

Seasoned Volunteer Mauled by Dog at Orange County Animal Care

It is with a heavy heart that I share that a seasoned dog volunteer of 15 years was seriously attacked by a shelter dog. The volunteer was bitten 18 times and sustained over 90 puncture wounds. Since the kennel area had no visitors, the incident lasted for a while until a kennel attendant heard the screams for help. The volunteer is thankfully home after a visit to the UCI Medical Trauma dept and surgery on both arms. She was severely traumatized physically and psychologically, possibly with lasting effects. As of this date, Orange County Animal Care (OCAC) has not even reached out to the volunteer to inquire about their recovery status.

The dog was one of 37 dogs who were part of Kennel Connection, a program that (for 5 hours per week) allows the public to view dogs, supposedly thoroughly screened and vetted.

What are the factors involved in the negligence of (OCAC) leading to this horrible occurrence?

● Based on the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) Guidelines cited in the Grand Jury Report (GJR) from page 27 on, the kennels are woefully understaffed. This is because management keeps hiring more and more administrative staff but not kennel staff. Of more than 130 employees at the shelter, only about 20 are allocated for direct animal care, feeding, and enrichment. The recommended number is over 60 (based on current animal numbers). With an annual budget of over 26M, OCAC can and must do better.

● OCAC has no behavioral protocol for evaluating animals. Their assessment is completely arbitrary. In fact, there have been animals deemed most adoptable also on the euthanasia alert list (per Public Records Act and http://OCShelter.com.) There are no written guidelines, policies, procedures, or standards for evaluating animal behavior (GJR). OCAC apparently promoted a false sense of security by understating the number of bites for 2021-2022 to make their system seem successful. This information was given to the county but was ignored.

● Also adding to the poor behavioral conditions is the absence of a certified animal behaviorist, inadequate dog enrichment programs, and no record-keeping (GJR). In 2019, there were an average of 3 playgroups per week for large dogs, working towards 5 playgroups per week.  Playgroups for large dogs went to zero under the current management.

● The stress level for animals and people is compounded by the increased length of stay for dogs. 2022 showed an average of over 20 days compared to less than 10 in 2018  (http://OCShelter.com). This is due to ineffective adoption procedures that prevent the public from seeing dogs in their kennel areas and force them instead to pick just a couple of animals to visit from web photos. Recently, OCAC did “improve” adoption protocol by allowing the public to peruse the kennels for 5 hours per week and only for a small subset of dogs. Longer stays without socialization lead to increased stress for the animals.

This was an accident waiting to happen. According to two seasoned Animal Control Officers (ACOs), this was the 3rd severe incident involving a volunteer and dog under the present management. In their experience as ACOs, these occurrences are very rare, and truly aggressive dogs should be easy to identify.

What can you do to help?

Please contact city managers and mayors in each of the 14 cities that have contracts with OCAC. Tell them to expect more from OCAC; they are obviously failing the animals in their jurisdiction. Please contact the Board of Supervisors  https://board.ocgov.com/contact and let them know that the kennel staff, volunteers, and animals of OCAC deserve better. Supervisors must do their job and overhaul management at the shelter and Orange County Community Resources.

You may be interested in this story as well: https://fullertonobserver.com/2022/09/08/animal-activists-demand-changes-at-orange-county-animal-care-shelter/

8 replies »

  1. I got my dog from them in 2018, she was a senior chihuahua and i loved her deary, but she had severe dental issues and never disclosed to me the severity. Costed thousands of dollars and led to other illness, but I cared for her anyway. Fastforward to about a year ago, after she passed I thought I would take a chance, and just look. Sure enough, we werent allowed to walk around the kennels like we did in 2018, and we could only pick from pictures. They allowed us to meet a dog who had anemia and was CLEARLY sick, when I asked to speak to a vet they claimed it was a mistake and we shouldn’t have been able to see the dog. Another dog we inquired about had a photo only taken from one side, the staff told us the dog had severe buldging eye… so their shady business practices don’t suprise me. They need to drastically change the way their shelter is run because I wonder how many people went home with sick animals…

  2. The shelter can do better for the volunteers, the staff, the animals, and the taxpayer… all at the same time. Why? Because the mismanagement in place right now makes the shelter unsafe for people, treats animals badly, and wastes money. Did you know that the county makes all the decisions (including how much money to spend and how to spend it) and then bills Fullerton and all the other cities, who have to cover all the costs? What a sucker deal!

  3. The shelter can do better for the volunteers, the staff, the animals, and the taxpayer… all at the same time. Why? Because mismanagement

  4. Thankful for animal shelter organizations. Gods bless volunteer May they heal quick and well. OC animal shelter do proactively better to hire staff train them in animal CARE. Less admin do hire more animal Care trained staff!!!!!!

  5. What a sad reality. They need to do better for these poor animals in their care.

    • Do better for the ANIMALS? How about doing better for their volunteers as well? Also, why no description of the breed? We all know why. It wasn’t a German Shepherd, Lab, or Chihuahua that did this. Just another tick in the boxes of the statistics that prove “deed not breed” and “nanny dogs” is a big fat lie…

      • Public records list the dog as Beagle – Labrador mix. Are those particularly dangerous? I hadn’t heard that before.