Two dogs were brought into Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) recently. Both had adopters waiting to give them a second chance. OCAS was well aware of their interest.
Both adopters were the ones who had NOTIFIED OCAS of the condition of the dogs. One dog had been chained outside 24/7 for weeks. He was a friendly 10 year old tripod named Whitey. He was in good condition, possibly a little thin. The second dog, a young puppy, was brought in suffering horribly from mange. Mange is NOT a fatal condition. Many animals arrive at OCAS with that condition and leave OCAS in the care of rescues or adopters still suffering from it.
OCAS decided to take away the second chance that the adopters were affording these dogs and euthanized the animals practically upon intake. When the adopters inquired as to why this was done, in the case of the tripod Whitey, the adopter was told by Dil Luther, long-time Manager of OCAS, that the animal was ill and apologized for the "inconvenience" that OCAS had caused her by not responding to her 16 days of requests for the status of the animal. This adopter had initially called their 311 number to report the abuse. And the only response she got was to "keep calling every day." So she did. And daily, the desk officers refused to take her name for last chance rescue. No staff member there has an answer as to why they refused this simple request.
To further illuminate this tragedy, the records show that the day after Whitey's situation was reported by Lillian, the potential adopter, OCAS sent an officer to the owner's home, to warn the owner that chaining the animal was against the law, and they had to A) bring it inside and B) bring it to a vet or they would face fines for animal abuse. So obviously there was a case number filed. Lillian's name could and should have been added to that file.
Lillian noticed that the day after her call, Whitey was no longer chained in the yard, was nowhere to be found. She thought, perhaps he was inside the house, but, still concerned about the animal, she continued to ask after Whitey's status. She was not a neighbor to the owner, in fact, had no contact with the owner. She was simply a caring individual, trying to do the right thing.
What was the actual result of that animal control visit? Whitey was turned into OCAS the next day. The owner claimed the dog had cancer and demanded that they euthanize it immediately. So that's the only action taken by OCAS upon receipt. They killed a dog who had a safety net - they did not to try to save it's life.
Was the dog turned over to OCAS? Yes. So it was actually in their possession. Was the owner fined? No. By turning the dog over to OCAS, they successfuly avoided a fine. Did the owner provide proof of the illness? No. Does anyone reading this actually believe that an owner would bother to take a dog that was chained 24/7 to see a vet for a checkup? If so, you probably also believe the moon landing was a hoax, and I have a bridge to sell you.
Did OCAS check to see if the dog was ill? No. Was the potential adopter notified that Whitey was now in OCAS's possession? No. In fact, it took 16 days of repeated calls. On the 16th day, someone entered the status of Whitey into his computer record. On the 16th day, Lillian was informed that Whitey had been killed at the shelter, 15 days earlier.
Would she have taken the dog in the condition the owner stated - "has cancer"? Certainly. She was in a position to help the animal and was more than happy to do so. She had cared for a cat with cancer and knew what it would take.
In the case of the mangy pup, the adopter showed up at OCAS when they saw the photo online. And, just as in Whitey's case, once again, a dog was denied it's second chance.
Did OCAS notify the adopter that the dog was there? No. She happened upon the photo; she was checking every day to see if the dog was brought in. When she arrived to adopt the pup, the adoption officer firmly told her "you don't want that dog" and spent a great deal of effort trying to talk her out of it. I've heard that story many times before when it comes to OCAS adoption officers. People leave in tears, denied the right to adopt the animal of their choice.
This adopter stood firm in the face of their inhumanity. She was told by OCAS they would hold the dog for her until the next day, when she was able to return with the adoption fee. When she retuned, she was told they had killed it before she got there.
When I asked OCAS staff why they were again not allowing adopters the chance to actually save a life, they had no reply. That speaks volumes.
Recently, I've also gotten written complaints that OCAS is once again refusing the public admittance to the isolation area. Months ago this problem was brought up in a City Commission meeting by members of the public. At that meeting, Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs was very disturbed by this action on the part of the shelter. She understood the public's dilemma, and, in that open meeting, ordered that isolation be re-opened so members of the community could enter, escorted by a staff member, to see if, possibly, their lost pet was in that area. Since OCAS often "omits" posting many of the isolation animals online on their www.OCNetpets.com website, there is no way to know if your lost animal is in there, possibly injured, wondering why you're not coming to get them. When I asked OCAS staff why they were going against the Mayor's wishes, again they had no reply.
The reasons given by OCAS which I've heard from the public, when they are refused entrance into the isolation ward range from:
- not spreading disease
- only rescues can come in
- not enough staff to escort
- some animals are dangerous
- some animals are confiscation cases and so on and so on...
Ultimately, these animals die alone, wondering what they did wrong to end their lives on a cold hard floor in a cage, unseen by those who loved them.
It leaves those who fought and continue to fight to help these animals shaking our heads in bewilderment at the actions now being implemented at Orange County Animal Services in Orlando, Florida.