This is what came out of the meeting Tuesday, 8/27/13
All media was publicly reprimanded for leaving early so Mayor Jacobs was not able to put this entirely on the shoulders of the Orange County Citizens for not having their pets Spayed and Neutered. I'm not at all understanding how MEDIA is to blame for what happens behind the doors of OCAS. Nor are the Orange County Citizens, who are afraid to bring in stray animals for fear they will be immediately euthanized. Nor are many local rescues, who are afraid of speaking out against a shelter for fear of having their contracts revoked.
There was absolutely no recognition of the years of long term poor management of the shelter and the atrocities taking place. Fortunately for rescue, we have long memories and voluminous paperwork going back years... so we can supply them with all the needed FACTS.
For some actual statistics, from October - November 2012, 31% was the euthanasia rate. For just the month of July 2013, that rate has gone up 7%.
The matter will not be placed on the Agenda, which is what we all wanted, an open discussion which would include the residents of Orange County. The Commission claims that they will do "a full internal investigation that will be discussed in October." Regarding that investigation: Health Director Dr. George Ralls outlined an "action plan" for the shelter: He promises "error reduction strategies" to cut the number of mistakes. He also promises to recruit new veterinarians, engage Advisory Board members in the operation of the shelter, and after a full review, he's promising recommendations for improvements in about 10-12 weeks. Luckily the rescues gave them plenty of suggestions - keep the shelter open Sundays for adoption, get the spay/neuter van running, allow people back into the isolation area.
Not one person in authority at OCAS has reached out to the community, asking for help to get the spay/neuter van up and running. I know this community - they will volunteer their time and donate materials or give them at cost, to help the animals and residents who live here. We are very supportive of causes such as these. But OCAS prefers to keep silent about their failures and bury them under the rug. A study was done on OCAS by Maddie's Fund, a national organization responsible for making suggestions on improving shelters across the country. The results of that study were never made public.
Here's the sad truth about Mayor Jacob's decision on putting the overview into Dr. Rall's hands. Dr. Ralls was the one who approved Ridgway in the first place, after a recommendation from Dil Luther, the current Division Manager, who was promoted to that position from Assistant Manager, demoted back to Assistant Manager for various failings under his watch, then re-promoted to Division Manager. It's mind-boggling. Dr. Rall's believes Dr. Ridgway is an "exceptional candidate... well deserving of his annual salary of over $116,000 per year.
The contract was sent from Dr. Ralls to Mayor Jacobs, and approved by the Mayor on July 2, 2013. This is the same veterinarian that Mayor Jacob's predecessor, Mayor Richard Crotty, deemed UNFIT for the job in 2007.
It is glaringly obvious that they'd prefer not to touch this hot potato and want to scuttle any improvement in the near future. They are going to simply put this back on the Advisory Board which has been handled by OCAS Management for the last 4 years. That board is missing a) an active Veterinarian, b) a rescue partner, c) no one is representing cats or other animals. Paul Wean has been the Acting Chairman of the Board since 2011, and apparently sees few or no problems with the shelter. And the fact that the Board does not convene on a regular basis seems to not bother any member but Debbie Turner, the lone member of the board bringing the issues to light.
To those who came and supported the animals in Orange County, Thank you! Our voices need to be continually heard so this will not be swept under the rug for another decade. Do not stop now, we have this one opportunity! We must push for another meeting at that 10 week mark, to see exactly what recommendations Dr. Ralls has implemented, or even outlined. In the interim, until Dr. Ridgway is put out to the pasture in which he so desperately wants to wallow, I DO NOT recommend that you bring any animal to Orange County Animal Services for ANY sort of medical procedure. Go across the street to SPCA of Orlando. Go to Spay N Save of Longwood, their vets are warm and compassionate.... and affordable.