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By OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

With so many different breeds of dogs, have you ever considered which one is your favorite? Labrador retriever? Shih tzu? Boston terrier? We asked this same question to W. Bruce Cameron, the author of the bestselling book A Dogs Purpose at our South County Pet Expo last year. His response was simply, “a rescue dog,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Here in Orange County, our animal care services began back in the 1940s with a shelter that had 26 dog kennels. Nearly 80 years later, it’s estimated there are over 1.4 million companion animals in OC, and more than 15,000 came through the county’s shelter in 2017 alone.

Animal services and rescue animals aren’t always at the forefront of a person’s mind or public policy debates; however, in OC we’re establishing a new foundation and transforming the culture for how the county provides animal services by placing our constituents and pets as the primary mission, creating more effective, efficient and community-oriented services.

With these considerations in mind, I am thrilled to announce we will open the doors to the county’s new and modernized animal shelter in Tustin, which will serve our communities’ lost and homeless pets. The new shelter sets the stage for a new era of animal care in Orange County.

To design a shelter that benefits our community and functions with animals’ well-being in mind, our county staff and I worked collaboratively with some of the most prestigious consultants and veterinarians to help guide us through the design and development of the new facility. For example, Dr. Jyothi Robertson, of JVR Shelter Strategies, LLC spent months with the county, analyzing current approaches to our shelter policies and practices. The assistance of industry experts such as Dr. Robertson, allowed us to focus on novel strategic designs and programs to ensure our shelter’s furry companions will see a dramatic improvement over their previous conditions.

The shelter’s cats, for example, are moving from two cramped portables with stacked cages to a climate-controlled building with access to far more natural light and space. The strategic layout promotes stress reduction, which helps to limit common infections among shelter cats.

For our canine companions, we have created daily enrichment programs that will help increase each dog’s adoptability, which includes various playgroups and trainings. These programs will decrease an animal’s anxiety and significantly increase their adoptability and chances of finding their forever home.

Every year, I’m pleased to host the South County Pet Expo to make animal adoptions more accessible to residents and help pets find a family. The annual event features over one hundred pet-related businesses, as well as pet owner information and entertaining demonstrations. This year’s Expo will take place Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m-2 p.m. at Lake Forest Sports Park. In addition to this event, our partnership with the city of Lake Forest to support the Pet Adoption Center of Orange County is a sustained effort to make adoptions more efficient and accessible in South County.

While there are many pressing issues countywide, the new animal care system highlights what we can do when we turn over every stone in order to make something better. In my years of service as your Orange County Supervisor, it has been my pledge to support policies that lead to effective county services that matter to residents. Our new animal shelter, local adoption centers and engaging community events are among many examples of my commitment to make Orange County the best place to live, work and play. As your Supervisor, I will continue to support innovative solutions and strive to enhance the quality of services to our community.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett represents the 5th District on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which includes the cities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, (portions of) Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

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