The Advisory Board meeting was held on 9/17, and they actually allowed attendees to speak. There was much airing of grievances against OCAS, especially regarding their constant changing of policies and procedures. It seems, to the rescues and residents, that OCAS management spins a wheel each morning to see what policy they will change for the day; will people be allowed into isolation, or not? Will an animal be released to a rescue on the day that they're expecting it, or will it not be ready in time for pickup?
As a member of the rescue community, it's imperative that we all need to keep advising the main people at the shelter of our issues: Dr. Ralls, Orange County Health Services Director, who is in charge of the investigation, per Mayor Theresa Jacobs, Dil Luther, OCAS Division Manager, and Don Bruce, OCAS Assistant Division Manager.
Oddly, but not surprisingly, at the meeting, Dil Luther claimed that he was unaware of the problems, and surprised that no one had brought these problems to his attention. I find that very hard to believe, if not impossible. But it mirrors the same speech that Mayor Jacobs gave at the Commission meeting a few weeks back; she too claimed to be "unaware of the problems and had no idea people would be speaking about it at the meeting", even though she had been informed numerous times before the meeting of what was going to happen.
In any event, Dr. Ralls presented a verbal accounting of what they plan to do over the next year -- all which were positive. It was in no uncertain terms relayed that isolation is open with guarded escort, so if anyone has any issues they need to document the date and who the employee was that was refusing access. You are then to contact Dil Luther at 407-254-9144.
Dr. Ralls stated that there will be a three member staff to deal with euthanasia issues to help prevent a inexcusable death such as befell Hershey, the animal that was PTS yet had a home waiting for him, the dog that sparked this debate and need for major change at OCAS. The shelter are also going to have both a rescue coordinator and an adoption coordinator, along with a single point of contact to screen the phone calls and e-mails.
Dr. Ralls stated that the County has hired a full time vet, with the goal to be two full time vets. Reportedly, Dr. Ridgeway, the veterinarian who showed such a lack of compassion for the animals in his care, will be phased out once the other vets are trained. However, since I was not at the meeting, I did not get a chance to inquire how this new vet was chosen, nor given the opportunity to examine their background.
OCAS has been told to work on better intake procedures: Pictures, vet care, information to rescues. There will be a five member intake team: (1) Health status; (2) Temp testing; (3) Pictures of animals; (4) All info gets into computer and posted on OCNetpets.com. Also, hold time for healthy animals will be extended. I have noticed that this has already been put into effect. Many dogs "due out" dates have been extended by a week. Since there are many empty runs, there is no reason why the dates should be continually extended. Killing animals while there are empty runs is a major complaint from rescues and citizens.
Also, they are going to work on extending the hours, and possibly going to a different computer system. Also, they are working with the Mayor to have a higher visibility adoption center with an additional number of runs.
There are still many issues to be discussed such as the "disappearance" of intake animals, numbering about 1450 per year over the past 4 years. The waste of millions of dollars on a property on Goldenrod Road that was intended to be used as a second adoption facility for Orange County, but, instead, is being used to house litter. Reason being, the cost to upgrade the facility was deemed too big for the OCAS budget. So who greenlighted the initial purchase??? The waste of money on a computer system that was deemed non-functional. The changing of job qualifications to fit an desired employees background, rather than hiring individuals who have the correct qualifications.
Things that make you go HMMMM.....
The meeting lasted from 6 pm until close to 9 pm. It is far from over, and we hope that these above solutions will actually be put into effect. Empty promises will not be tolerated.