On March 7, 2018, Orange County Animal Care opened its new animal shelter in the City of Tustin. The event included presentations from the Orange County Board of Supervisors and County staff. Chairman Do, Supervisor Steele, Supervisor Bartlett, and Supervisor Spitzer provided remarks regarding the development process and their vision for the program. The County discussed plans to implement the forthcoming strategic plan being prepared by JVR Shelter Strategies and stressed the need to use the new facility to improve the overall quality of care for animals.
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In 2016, Orange County Animal Care (“OCAC”) retained a consulting firm called JVR Shelter Strategies to review OCAC data to determine staffing and capacity needs for the new animal shelter. JVR Shelter Strategies is owned and operated by Dr. Jyothi Robertson, a veterinarian, who is board-qualified in Shelter Medicine. Dr. Robertson specializes in large-scale population dynamics, including outbreak management, infectious disease control, and shelter statistics. Prior to working with OCAC, Dr. Robertson completed a comprehensive review of the City of Irvine Animal Services.
At the most recent meeting of the City Manager’s Association Animal Care Committee (“CMAAC”) meeting on January 29, 2018, Dr. Robertson provided staff with a general overview of OCAC’s Strategic Plan. OCAC provided staff with a physical copy of the Executive Summary of its Strategic Plan which is attached for the City Council’s information (Attachment). The Executive Summary is divided into five strategic priorities: (1) Animal Care, Enrichment, and Placement, (2) Stakeholder Engagement and Marketing, (3) Culture and Organizational Development, (4) Fiscal Stewardship and Sustainability, and (5) New Shelter Preparation.
Each section of the Executive Summary outlines specific goals and measures of success for the program. According to the presentation provided by Dr. Robertson, these goals and measures are designed to ensure the program continues to improve care for each animal received at the new animal shelter and to specifically improve the live-release rate. As noted by JVR Shelter Strategies in Strategic Priority 1, Goal #4, the live release rate for dogs is currently over 90%. OCAC’s success measure is that the live release rate for dogs remain at this level. Dr. Robertson is also recommending a success measure to increase the live release rate for cats by 5% each year, with a target live release rate of 85% by 2020. Other aspects of the Strategic Plan highlighted in Dr. Robertson’s review included streamlining the adoption process, engaging volunteers, enhancing the organizational culture at OCAC, increasing licensing compliance to 60% by 2019, and engaging in efforts to streamline the opening of the new facility.
JVR currently is finalizing the OCAC Strategic Planning, which was not provided to staff. Upon completion, OCAC plans to share the final report with its contract partners, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and the community as part of outreach efforts. OCAC plans to take the final version of the Strategic Plan to the Orange County Board of Supervisors later this fiscal year but did not specify a date. At that time, the Orange County Board of Supervisors and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the recommendations.
OCAC anticipates that implementation of some of the proposed recommendations by JVR Shelter Strategies may require additional budget appropriations by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the coming fiscal year. However, given that OCAC does not have policy direction from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the fiscal impact to the County and the contract cities has not yet been estimated.
The CMAACC meeting scheduled for February 2018 was canceled due to OCAC’s need to move into the new animal care facility.
City staff attended the City Manager’s Association Animal Care Committee (“CMAAC”) meeting on April 19, 2018, at Orange County Animal Care’s (“OCAC”) new facility. Discussion topics included OCAC completed Strategic Plan, the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Operating Budget, and the status of hiring a permanent OCAC Director. This memorandum provides a summary of each topic discussed.
OCAC Strategic Plan
As previously reported to the City Council in 2016, Orange County Animal Care (“OCAC”) retained a consulting firm, JVR Shelter Strategies (“JVR”), to review OCAC data to determine staffing and capacity needs for the new animal shelter. Dr. Jyothi Robertson, JVR owner, specializes in large-scale population dynamics, including outbreak management, infectious disease control, and shelter statistics. Pursuant to OCAC’s agreement with the consultant, JVR worked with OCAC staff to guide the program’s strategic planning process.
At the most recent meeting of the CMAAC, OCAC staff reviewed its completed Strategic Plan, highlighting OCAC’s Vision, Mission, Motto, and Strategic Priorities. OCAC provided CMAAC members with a one-page Strategic Plan Overview detailing these components which is attached for the City Council’s information. Each identified strategic priority includes specific programs aimed at improving OCAC services. For example, OCAC identified “Stakeholder Engagement and Marketing” as a Strategic Priority. One method the organization will use to advance this priority is implementation of new policies and procedures to increase information sharing and transparency, which will include independent verification of monthly intake and outcome figures. Orange County Community Resources (“OCCR”) plans to take the completed Strategic Plan and the completed Fee Study to the Board of Supervisors on May 22, 2018.
Fiscal Year 2018-19 Operating Budget
In keeping with its outlined strategic priorities and programmatic actions, OCAC will implement new program initiatives in Fiscal Year 2018-19 which may impact overall operational costs. OCAC is evaluating potential alternative operating scenarios. Some of these scenarios could result in cost savings and enhanced revenue, such as additional fund raising opportunities and managing animal intake through requiring appointments to surrender animals and returning animals to owners in the field. OCAC provided staff with a Notice of Intent estimating the City’s share ($559,194) for the coming fiscal year. Staff will use this information as it develops the City’s Draft Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
OCAC Director Recruitment
During the meeting, OCCR Director, Dylan Wright, provided a status update regarding the department’s recruitment for a new program director. At this time, all applications have been reviewed, and OCCR staff found 13 candidates qualified for the position. The County will interview these candidates in the coming weeks to narrow the selection. Mr. Wright expressed interest in including City Manager participation in the interview process. Once a candidate is selected, OCAC will invite the final candidate to attend a CMAAC meeting and introduce this individual to participating cities’ representatives. OCCR provided a letter detailing its planned efforts for stakeholder involvement in selecting a new OCAC Director. Staff will provide updates relative to this process as appropriate.
Staff will continue to update the City Council relative to OCAC operations and provide any additional documents or information as appropriate. Should the City Council have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 949-461-3537.
The meeting scheduled for May 2018, was canceled; however, Orange County Community Resources Director (“OCCR”), Dylan Wright, provided a written update relative to the status of topics previously discussed during CMAAC meetings. This memorandum provides a summary of this update.
OCAC Strategic Plan and Fee Study
With the assistance of JVR, OCAC completed a draft of its Strategic Plan. Staff previously informed the City Council that OCCR intended to present the Strategic Plan and the Fee Study to the Board of Supervisors on May 22, 2018. However, OCCR determined that the Board of Supervisors will need to review the two documents individually. As a result, OCCR will present the Strategic Plan to the Board of Supervisors on May 22, 2018, but will postpone presentation of the Fee Study until July 2018.
Animal Licensing Application Upgrade
OCAC recently upgraded its web-based pet licensing application to enhance customer service to residents. The new program allows greater ease for customers to identify their pet’s licenses, create a new license for a new pet, and update records if a pet is lost or recently deceased. Additionally, the new application provides the option for residents to make monetary donations to OCAC. The new licensing program is available to view here: https://licensepet.com/wl3/reg/orngwl.
During its meeting of May 8, 2018, the Board of Supervisors discussed OCAC’s proposed fundraising campaign with a third-party fundraising firm called Convergent. The Board of Supervisors directed OCCR to proceed with Convergent for a six-month fundraising campaign. The County is responsible for the costs associated with this effort ($175,000) and anticipates generating approximately $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 through fundraising activities which could offset OCAC’s programming costs. OCAC and Convergent staff will meet within the next few weeks to begin the project and OCAC will provide updates to each participating City as appropriate.
OCAC recently partnered with Animals for Armed Forces. Over the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27, 2018, OCAC will offer free adoptions to active duty, reserve, and military veterans to thank and honor dedicated service men and women. A flyer promoting the adoption event is attached for the City Councils information (Attachment).
Staff will continue to update the City Council relative to OCAC operations and provide any additional information as appropriate. Should the City Council have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 949-461-3537.
City staff attended the City Manager’s Association Animal Care Committee meeting on June 21, 2018 at Orange County Animal Care (“OCAC”) headquarters. Discussion topics included a recent Panleukopenia outbreak at the animal shelter, the status of the recruitment effort for the Director of Animal Care, a recent agency fee study, OCAC’s fundraising efforts, and the organizations summer adoption promotions.
OCAC has identified the presence of panleukopenia and is taking immediate steps to contain the spread of the virus. Panleukopenia is a relatively common disease which may have serious consequences for unvaccinated and immune-immature cats and kittens. While panleukopenia is not unexpected in shelters this time of year, it is nonetheless concerning and OCAC is taking the situation seriously.
OCAC adopted a shelter-wide approach and implemented deep care and cleaning protocols with both staff and volunteers. Additionally, OCAC is limiting access to cats to in-kennel visits, and is administering booster immunizations to all shelter cats. While dangerous to unvaccinated cats, there is no risk to the public visiting the shelter. Regardless, OCAC continues to promote hand sanitization of all visitors as they enter and exit each cat area. To date, no Lake Forest cats have been affected by the virus and the shelter’s cat adoption process continues.
Director of Animal Care Recruitment Status
During the meeting, Orange County Community Resources (“OCCR”) Director, Dylan Wright, provided a status update regarding the department’s recruitment for a new Director of Animal Care. At this time, the County has extended an offer to the selected candidate and the County is awaiting a response. The candidate visited the facility during the recruitment process and will be introduced to the CMAACC in the near future, should he/she accept the position.
OCAC Fee Study
Staff previously informed the City Council that OCCR intended to present the Strategic Plan and the Fee Study to the Board of Supervisors in May 2018. However, OCCR determined that the Board of Supervisors would need to review the two documents individually. As a result, OCCR presented the Strategic Plan to the Board of Supervisors on May 22, 2018, and scheduled the presentation of the Fee Study for July 2018. If approved, updated licensing fees will take effect on September 1, 2018, and all others fees on August 1, 2018.
OCAC receives around $100,000 annually in donations. As a part of its newly adopted strategic plan, OCAC is committed to increasing fund raising efforts during the coming Fiscal Year. At its meeting of May 8, 2018, the Board of Supervisors discussed OCAC’s proposed fundraising campaign with a third-party fundraising firm called Convergent. The Board of Supervisors directed OCCR to proceed with Convergent for a six-month fundraising campaign. The County is responsible for the costs associated with this effort ($175,000) and anticipates generating approximately $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 through fundraising activities which could offset OCAC’s programming costs. OCAC and Convergent have begun the fundraising campaign.
Cool Cats of Summer Promotion
OCAC’s Cool Cats of Summer promotion lasts until the end of June. During this time, OCAC will waive all cat adoption fees, with the exception of the $17 microchip fee. OCAC uses donations to offset the expenses associated with this promotion.
Alternative Animal Care Shelter Exploration
The City Council previously directed staff to send letters to the cities of Costa Mesa, Irvine, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano regarding potential interest in a partnership to provide animal care services. At this time, staff has received responses from many of the cities. Staff plans to present an update regarding this project to the City Council at a meeting in August 2018, to discuss next steps and receive further City Council direction.
Staff will continue to update the City Council relative to OCAC operations and the City’s effort to explore alternative shelter options as appropriate. Should the City Council have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (949) 461-3537.
City staff attended the City Manager’s Association Animal Care Committee meeting on July 19, 2018 at Orange County Animal Care (“OCAC”) headquarters. Discussion topics included the new OCAC fee study, selection of a new Director of Animal Care, Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget actuals, shelter capacity, an update regarding the recent outbreak of panleukopenia and typhus, upcoming events, and coyote mitigation.
Staff previously informed the City Council that Orange County Community Resources (“OCCR”) conducted a fee study of the OCAC program. OCCR presented the fee study and suggested fee schedule to the Board of Supervisors at its meeting of July 17, 2018. Following some discussion, the Board of Supervisors approved the recommended fee schedule during this meeting. Updated licensing fees will take effect on September 1, 2018, and all others fees on August 1, 2018. However, adoption of the new fee schedule does not affect the license fees the City Council previously established. The fee study and fee schedule are attached for the City Council’s information.
New Director of Animal Care Hired
During the meeting, OCCR Director, Dylan Wright, also discussed the selection of the new Director of Animal Care, Mike Kaviani. Mr. Kaviani has over 14 years of experience in the animal care industry and previously served the Irvine community. Mr. Kaviani joins OCAC from Austin Pets Alive!, where he served as the Director of Life Saving Operations. OCAC anticipates that its chosen candidate will begin his new role with the County on August 17, 2018. Following this date, Mr. Kaviani will be introduced to the CMAAC. Additionally, Mr. Wright is available to introduce Mr. Kaviani to the City Council at a meeting in the near future.
Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget Actuals
OCAC’s Budget Analyst provided an update regarding program actuals for Fiscal Year 2017-18. Based on the actual revenues and expenditures for June 2018, OCAC anticipates that it may have exceeded the collective Notice of Intent estimates for the previous fiscal year. OCAC anticipates finalizing the fourth quarter invoices by the end of July and providing these to the member cities in early August 2018.
In the past few months, the OCAC shelter capacity has been at 80 percent or higher. While the shelter and its staff are better equipped to address needs associated with a high shelter capacity, this consistent population is unmanageable in the long-term. To encourage more adoption and reduce capacity, OCAC initiated a fee waiver for adoption of those animals with tenure at the shelter of seven or more days. This waiver program will remain in place until the shelter population reduces to approximately 60 percent of capacity or August 4, 2018
Panleukopenia and Typhus
Staff previously reported that OCAC identified the presence of panleukopenia in the shelter. Panleukopenia is a relatively common disease which may have serious consequences for unvaccinated and immune-immature cats and kittens. To address the outbreak, OCAC adopted a shelter-wide approach and implemented deep care and cleaning protocols with both staff and volunteers. Additionally, OCAC limited access to cats to in-kennel visits, and is administering booster immunizations to all shelter cats. To date, the outbreak appears to be resolved. OCAC veterinary staff identified two additional cases of panleukopenia separate from the initial outbreak. The virus does not appear to have spread beyond these two additional cases. OCAC staff also learned of an outbreak of Typhus among cats in the City of Orange. As a result, OCAC has temporarily suspended its trap-neuter-return program within this jurisdiction as to not exasperate the outbreak.
OCAC is preparing for the national Clear the Shelters event scheduled for August 12, 2018. NBC recently informed OCAC that it was chosen as a key shelter for the network to highlight during the day. NBC will feature OCAC on Clear the Shelters day and be present at the shelter for the event. Additionally, OCAC will participate in a pre-Clear the Shelters event scheduled for August 11, 2018 at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach. NBC will also be present for this event scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
OCAC hosted a separate meeting regarding coyote mitigation to assess current city efforts and its role in addressing mitigation efforts in the future. The City receives few complaints of coyotes annually and attended the meeting to clarify roles and responsibilities related to reporting coyote activity. OCAC clarified that it responses to calls for service involving injured, sick, or aggressive coyotes. Additionally, the group discussed the potential to regionalize a coyote mitigation plan amongst all participating cities, as opposed to the current localized approach. OCAC will begin reporting calls for service involving coyotes monthly and evaluate the potential for a regionalized mitigation plan.
Please contact Louie Lacasella, Assistant to the City Manager, with any questions at (949) 461-3537, or via email at email@example.com.
City staff attended the City Manager’s Association Animal Care Committee meeting on August 16, 2018 at Orange County Animal Care (“OCAC”) headquarters. Discussion topics included an introduction of the new Director of Animal Care, animal control field and special services, and the recent animal cruelty case.
Introduction of Director of Animal Care
During the meeting, Orange County Community Resources (“OCCR”) Director, Dylan Wright, introduced the new Director of Animal Care, Mike Kaviani. Mr. Kaviani shared his experience with the group and expressed enthusiasm for joining the OCAC community. Mr. Kaviani has over 14 years of experience in the animal care industry and previously served the Irvine community. Mr. Kaviani joins OCAC from Austin Pets Alive!, where he served as the Director of Life Saving Operations. Mr. Kaviani began his new role with OCAC on August 17, 2018, and will be available to attend a City Council meeting in the near future.
Animal Control Field and Special Services
In addition to identifying potential cost savings associated with shelter operations, OCAC is examining methods by which to alter field and special services and offer additional cost savings to its contracting agencies. California State law mandates that animal control conduct certain activities. Beyond these, OCAC will examine current services and introduce potential cost saving program options to the CMAACC at its next meeting.
Additionally, the CMAACC discussed the City of Anaheim’s study to examine the possibility of providing its own field services. OCAC noted that each contracted city’s field service allocation would increase in the event that Anaheim decided to offer its own services. Although Anaheim has not formally withdrawn from OCAC field service provisions, OCAC will include this possibility when it presents additional field service models to the contract cities at its next meeting. Staff will provide updates on this issue as necessary.
Animal Cruelty Case
Earlier this month, a rescue group began posting information suggesting the occurrence of animal abuse involving a dog adopted from the OCAC shelter. This group alleged that the dog had been sexually and physically abused and abandoned in poor health in the public right-of-way. The rescue took the dog to a veterinarian where it received care but ultimately passed away. The allegations originated in the City of Los Angeles, prompting the Los Angeles Police Department’s (“LAPD”) Animal Cruelty Task Force to open an investigation. OCAC cooperated with the Task Force while it investigated these claims. On August 16, 2018, the LAPD Task Force issued a press release outlining the findings of the investigation. After speaking with the treating veterinarian and the forensic veterinarian, the LAPD Task Force determined that there is no evidence of sexual or physical abuse, and the dog died of natural causes.
According to the press release, unknown circumstances prevented the dog’s owner from caring for the animal for a short period of time, prompting the owner to place the dog in a home for temporary care. During that time, the dog became lose and was found later by the aforementioned rescue group. The forensic veterinarian noted that the dog had recently been spayed, may have been in heat, and had previously given birth to multiple litters. All of these factors contributed to visible swelling of the dog’s genitals. At this time, the cause of death is unknown; however, the forensic veterinarian is testing tissue samples to assist in possibly identifying a cause of death. The LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force press release is attached for the City Council’s information.
Field Services Program Overview
As mentioned in the previous CMAACC update, OCAC is examining methods by which to alter field and special services to offer additional cost savings to its contracting agencies. OCAC Field Services Manager, Sean Fulton, provided an overview of OCAC field services from responding to calls to the intake of animals. OCAC plans to present cost savings options to the group at the next meeting which is scheduled for February.
OCAC’s finance team presented an overview of the new quarterly invoice billing statement. The use of the revised billing statement began on July 1, 2018. The allocation logic remained the same as previous fiscal years. More details related to services are provided for the City’s information. CMAACC members found the presentation useful as a method to ensure that each city is billed correctly.
OCAC Shelter Program Overview
OCAC Director, Mike Kaviani, presented a program overview of OCAC shelter operations, which included other programs such as licensing, canvassing, rabies control, and emergency management.
Regarding licensing, Mr. Kaviani reported there are 137,671 current licenses which is a compliance rate of 48.2%. Mr. Kaviani also reported that the national average for reference is 30%. Eleven (11) positive rabies cases occurred within Orange County last year, with one case located in the City of Lake Forest.
Cost Regarding Intake of Animals
There was a discussion regarding the cost of animals that are picked up in a city other than which the animal is licensed. OCAC staff confirmed that the city where the animal is picked up is billed for cost associated with intake and medical treatment if required. A couple of CMAACC members suggested revisiting this topic, which Orange County Community Resources Director (“OCCR’”), Dylan Wright, stated he would present in much more detail at a future meeting. Mr. Wright mentioned that it would be within the contract cities authority to change this billing methodology, if all members agreed.
Calls for Services Regarding Coyotes
Several CMAACC members mentioned an increase in coyote activity within their city limits. Staff has received five (5) Ask Lake Forest (ALF) requests in the past three months regarding coyotes. Staff will continue to monitor the situation and provide any necessary updates to the CMMACC and City Council.
Staff will continue to update the City Council relative to OCAC operations. Should the City Council have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (949) 461-3537.
FY 2018-19 Projections
OCAC staff provided an update regarding FY 2018-19 projections as of January 31, 2019. Salaries and employee benefits are over budget due to the Director and Chief Veterinary becoming two positions. Services and supplies are over budget as a result of higher utility bills associated with the transition to the new facility and pharmaceutical costs. Revenue for charges for services is under budget by approximately $137,000. Fees for adoption were reduced/waived in an effort to reduce the shelter population. The combination of higher expenditures and lower revenue has resulted in the contract cities’ projected share to be under-budget by $131,362.
Modified Service Model – Field Services/Animal Control
As mentioned in the previous CMAACC update, OCAC is examining methods by which to alter field and special services to offer additional cost savings to its contracting agencies. OCAC presented options that are designed to reduce cost with minimal impact on services. The proposed plan is projected to save general field services/animal control by $730,499.40 and business licensing services by $100,234.67, for a projected total savings of approximately $830,734.07. The proposals include:
Deceased Animal Removal
Changing the personnel assigned to handle deceased animal removal from Animal Control Officers (“ACO”) to lower level classifications. OCAC staff predicts the change in personnel classification will reduce costs and still maintain the possibility of faster response times. The average response time for deceased animal removal in Lake Forest this fiscal year is 3.23 hours.
Changes to how OCAC responds to stray dogs. Currently, OCAC initiates all requests for all stray dogs whether deemed urgent or non‐urgent. Instead, OCAC proposes to initiate service requests only for urgent stray dogs, those that are sick, injured, aggressive, in‐traffic, or causing other safety issues. A customer service component will be implemented to determine if the request is urgent or non-urgent. During the current fiscal year, there have been 124 calls for stray dogs with only one dog impounded. Last fiscal year, there were 300 calls resulting in 5 dogs being impounded (2 of which were impounded twice).
Stray Trapped Cats
Instead of field staff impounding stray trapped cats, the public would be responsible for bringing them to the shelter. OCAC staff clearly stated that accommodations can be made for those residents that are unable to bring the trapped cats to the shelter. There are two stray trapped cats in Lake Forest this year compared to 25 during fiscal year 2018.
Declared Dog Compliance Checks
Declared dog compliance checks would be changed from regularly scheduled to complaint based or as needed. Currently, seven dogs have been declared potentially dangerous or vicious in Lake Forest.
Business Licensing Service Changes
Business licensing service changes primarily will be conducted over the phone and through mail. The main categories of changes are:
• Pet Stores
Transitioned to Administrative Licenses – Owners will provide OCAC with their contact information, the types of species they will be keeping, and basic information on where the animals are sourced. The intent is that OCAC would only make an inspection if a complaint was received or it had some other reason to justify an inspection.
• Facilities Licensed through USDA or the California DFW (Exotic Animal Permits)
Federally or state licensed facilities housing animals such as tigers, bears, etc., will be transitioned to administrative licenses. Owners will provide OCAC with their contact information, the types of species they will be keeping, a copy of their current license or permit with the applicable state or federal agency, and after-hours contact information. The intent is that OCAC would only go out and inspect if a complaint were received or OCAC had a reason to make an in-person inspection necessary. These facilities are already licensed through a government regulatory agency.
• Rodeos, Circuses, etc.
Currently, OCAC staff inspects, permits, and attends all shows in this category. OCAC will be transitioning to administrative licenses. Owners will provide OCAC with their contact/after-hours information, the nature of their business or show, vaccination records for the animals involved (if needed), a list of the types of animals involved, and any corresponding permit or license issued by the state or federal government as applicable. OCAC would respond if a complaint were received or if it had some other reason to make an in-person contact.
• Grooming Facilities
o OCAC will be transitioning to administrative licensing of grooming facilities. This primarily will be achieved through mail and over the phone. Owners will provide OCAC with their contact information and basic business details. OCAC will respond to investigate or inspect as needed or upon complaint.
Elimination of Positions
Elimination of seven (7) full-time employees from field services. Through attrition, OCAC plans to implement temporary measures until the number of ACOs can be reduced and the proposed savings is achieved. Most ACOs will transition from a 4/10 to a 5/8 schedule.