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Euthanasia Rate Stuck at Nearly 50% at O.C. Animal Care

The good news is that fewer animals are coming in.

A drop in the number of animals at Orange County Animal Care in 2011 has also reduced the number euthanized, according to year-end statistics recently released by the shelter.

A total of 31,044 animals—dog, cats and other creatures—found themselves at the shelter in 2011. That's 4 percent fewer than in 2010, when 32,390 animals spent time there.

"It's tough to put a specific reason on [the decrease]," Ryan Drabek, director of OC Animal Care, told Patch in a phone interview.

But, Drabek said that the number of animals at the shelter has been decreasing each year since that total peaked in 2007, which could point to a connection to the late-2000s recession.

"[2007] was one of our biggest years ever," Drabek said. "We've seen constant decreases since then and that's a trend we want to continue to see."

A total of 10,024 animals were adopted from the facility during the year.

Of those who ended up at the shelter during 2011, 47 percent (or 14,634) were eventually euthanized. An additional 6 percent (1,809) were killed by owner request because the animal was suffering, or had a history of aggression.

That's a 3 percent drop from the total number of creatures killed (excluding euthanasia by owner request) in 2010.

However, while fewer animals were euthanized than in 2010, the percentage of creatures who never came out after entering the shelter remained nearly identical—about 53 percent.

As in 2010, cats fared much worse than dogs after being impounded at the shelter. A full 74 percent of cats at the shelter in 2011 ended up being euthanized, while only 25 percent of dogs suffered the same fate.

Reducing the number of cats killed in 2012 will be a main focus at the shelter, Drabek said.

Of the 9,899 cats euthanised in 2011, about a third were feral and another third, too young to survive. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from the previous year.

Neonatal cats at the shelter are typically offspring of feral cats, so controlling the wild cat population is essential to reducing those numbers, Drabek said.

Implementing a spay/neuter voucher program and a trap/neuter/release program could change those feline-focused statistics, said Drabek, who hopes to get one or both in place in 2012 with assistance from the Noble Friends Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the shelter.

A total of 208 animals were killed at the shelter in 2011 because of the length of time the animal had been at the shelter, or a lack of space. It's the first year that statistic has been monitored, though Drabek estimates it would have been a similar picture in 2011.

Keeping statistics on stray versus stray-owned animals (those with some form of identification) is another relatively new measure being tracked.

The fates of animals who have ID are "astonishingly different" than those that have no tag or microchip, he said.

"Something that we've been preaching to our community for a long time is the importance of your pet having ID," he said.

In 2011, 30 percent of stray dogs at the shelter without ID were killed—double the rate for dogs with a tag or microchip. For cats, the chance of survival was even worse. A whopping 82 percent without ID were euthanized, compared to less than half that for cats with identification.

This year, the shelter will intensify its focus on encouraging residents to—at minimum—put a nametag on their pets, Drabek said.

That could mean the difference between euthanasia and a happy reunion for a lost pet.

Shelter statistics released by the county's Animal Care have been broken down by the 18 cities and unincorporated areas it serves.

Find the 2011 overview for your city in this list: AnaheimBreaCypressFountain ValleyFullertonGarden GroveHuntington BeachLaguna HillsLake ForestOrangePlacentiaRancho Santa MargaritaSanta AnaSan Juan CapistranoStantonTustinVilla ParkYorba Linda and unincorporated areas.

Interested in picking out a new, furry family member home from among those animals housed at OC Animal Care? Check out the slideshow to the right for a handful of the animals currently up for adoption. See all the animals available to take home here.

Julie M. February 03, 2012 at 06:54 AM
I hate hearing about this. Shelter animals are wonderful!! IIf you want a good animal please go to the shelter. Please spay and neuter your pet11
Joker Joe February 03, 2012 at 04:24 PM
What are you saying about puppy mills? Are you saying they are in Newport? What is Russo's dogs? I Heart Puppies is what? Plz explain. If these are puppy mills in the area they should be shut down immediately!!
packmom March 20, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Russo's and I Heart Puppies are pet shops that sell puppy mill "designer" puppies. I have a dog I adopted from the OC shelter. Probably a puppy mill dog, high strung, not well socialized, is fine with everyone that comes into the house but is hyper alert and growling/barking at everything when outside on leash. He's a work in progress but would have definitely been on the euthanasia list since he wouldn't leave the back of his cage when people came to see him. My issue with the OC shelter is that they refused to tell you how much the adoption fees are on the phone. You have to go in person. The fees vary from dog to dog. Can't help but get the feeling they determine the price by looking at you and guessing what you can afford to pay. Why are dog adoptions less than $100 at so many other shelters yet the dog I adopted (not purebred) was $218? I understand the cost of neutering, shots, license etc. but they would have more adoptions if the costs were lowered. Why is is preferrable to euthanize an animal than lower the adoption fee the loser they get to their "last" day? If the other shelters can provide the same pre- adoption services and only charge $100 why can't the OC shelter? You also only get 10 minutes in a small fenced area to visit with and evaluate the dog. Hardly enough time to determine whether the dog is a good fit.
Joker Joe March 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
The pets should have a reasonable price tag and be advertised as such. Not to high but not to low. If too low they might be abused and if to high they might not be adapted.
April Josephson March 21, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Packmom, Thanks for adopting a shelter pet. They are the best! I can guarantee you that the price is not determined by whether you can afford to pay. The OC Board of Supervisors sets the adoption fees for the county shelter. They vary depending on how long the animal has been at the shelter, and whether they need to be spayed/neutered or not. If you want the county to reduce the fees, that would have to be addressed with the supervisors. I have asked the shelter about the policy of not quoting prices over the phone. Because the animals may or may not need to be fixed, and the adoption fee goes down the longer the animal has been at the shelter, they are hesitant to give a specific price, in case they misquote something or the price changes because the person did not come in on the day they called. This is a tricky situation. I have encouraged OC Animal Care to at least give a price range for the potential adopters, to give them an idea of what to expect, rather than having to go down to the shelter first. Periodically, the shelter has special events, where they reduce fees for adoptions, thanks to private donations to the shelter. This Saturday, March 24th, there is a special event called "Forever Friends For Free." It is a great time to adopt. The Angels Baseball Foundation has raised money and donated to the shelter to pay for everything except vaccines and microchips for all animals adopted that day. No cost to adopt or spay/neuter. Tell your friends!!

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