More Bad News About Orange County Animal Care

For several years, there have been concerns about how the OC Animal Care Shelter (OCAC) has been managed. Recently, the OCAC handed dogs over to a Woofy Acres dog rescue group. At this time, the staff noticed problems with the representative from Woofy Acres and alerted management.

The OCAC has been criticized for not tracking animals in its statistics, giving pet bunnies, hamsters, and guinea pigs to a group specializing in snakes, and maintaining pandemic-era policies. On September 10 last year, the OC animal shelter handed over rescue dogs Baron, Kate, Enzo, and Nevin to the group Woofy Acres. OC staff were concerned. Jaime Link, OCAC Operations Manager, wrote:

“We recently had a rescue pick-up with the listed representative, Diane (see PID screenshot), and the shelter team reported that her vehicle emitted an odor of animal waste and grime reminiscent of most hoarding houses. She was also behaving erratically and yelling at staff in the lobby. The rescuer has recently been pulling a lot of aggressive dogs (5 today), and I am concerned they may be going into less-than-ideal conditions.”

Link added, “Are we able to research the rescue’s online presence and forward our concerns to the AC authority to verify that they are on the up and up and welfare check any listed kennel location(s)? We want to be sure we are doing right by the dogs leaving our care.”

“Please let me know what we can find, and perhaps an outcome from the jurisdictional AC [Animal Control]?”

On September 11, 2023, Brandon Nelson replied:

“I’ll start working on this and let you know what I can find out. I’ll keep you posted with any updates and advise SGT Chung when he is back in the office.” [Source: Public Records Act request 24-1184, file 24-1184 Batch 1_Redacted.pdf, pages 38-41]

In the nine previous weeks (from July 5 to September 8 last year), the OC animal shelter had already given 21 dogs to Woofy Acres. The shelter gave a total of 128 dogs to Woofy Acres in 2020-2023.

[Source: Public Records Act request 24-1174, file Transfer 20200101-20240225 (P1348673)_1.xlsx]

According to the California Registry of Charitable Trusts, Woofy Acres has been delinquent in filing the necessary papers to retain its status as a state charity since May. Tax documents show Woofy Acres has raised $880,489 since 2018.

In 2021, Woofy Acres finished the year with a deficit of $25,164, according to its tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service. They listed revenues at $478,243, with expenses at $503,407. Woofy Acres spent $259,332 on boarding costs alone that year. According to their filing, Bedford and other officers did not collect any pay for their work.

Representatives from Shanderin Kennels said that 31 canines were left there by a rescue organization called Woofy Acres two years ago for temporary care and never picked up again.

“We don’t understand how anyone would think this is OK,” Shanderin Kennels Vet Tech Samantha Redline told KTLA’s John Fenoglio. “We heard that she did this to two other facilities.”

In February, the OC Register reported that Woofy Acres abandoned 32 dogs at a dog boarding facility last year. Some were in the facility for two years. Woofy Acres is delinquent on its bills and state-mandated paperwork. Almost half of the abandoned dogs were given to Woofy Acres by OC Animal Care in 2021. The OC shelter gave many more dogs to Woofy Acres in 2022 and 2023; what happened to them is unknown.

Spokesperson Alexa Pratt told the Register that “the agency was unaware of any problems with Woofy Acres when it released dogs to the rescue, the last ones going in early January.”

But Jaime Link’s September 10, 2023 email tells a different story. OC was very aware of problems through the first-hand observation of conscientious staff.

These are the animal id and dates of additional transfers to Woofy Acres AFTER September 10, from the bottom rows of the spreadsheet “Woofy Acres 2019-2023” (attached) from PRA request:

A1802606………….. 11/9/23

A1829748………….. 11/9/23

A1822946………….. 9/13/23

A1833031………….. 9/15/23

A1831227………….. 9/21/23

A1833968………….. 9/21/23

A1810015………….. 9/23/23

A1834329………….. 9/25/23

A1833801………….. 9/27/23

A1811421………….. 9/29/23

A1834518………….. 9/29/23

A1834965………….. 9/29/23

A1835155………….. 9/29/23

A1833782………… 10/4/23

A1833719………… 10/9/23

A1833720………… 10/9/23

A1835567………… 10/10/23

A1838091………… 10/18/23

A1833070………… 11/2/23

A1838453………… 11/2/23

A1838729………… 11/2/23

A1840926………… 11/3/23

A1839526………… 11/7/23

It is unknown what research the shelter did, but it seems it didn’t even try to verify Woofy Acres’s charity status with the state.

Michael Mavrovouniotis, an animal welfare advocate, said, “Mid-level and frontline OCAC staff love the animals and are doing their best to get good outcomes for them. I applaud Jaime Link and the animal care staff, who spoke up. They did the right thing. They showed a better shelter is possible. However, the top managers at the shelter and OC Community Resources don’t show the same concern for the welfare of the animals in their care. They falsely claim that they didn’t know there were any problems.”

The shelter just kept handing animals over to Woofy Acres. In the last five months of 2023, the shelter gave 48 dogs to Woofy Acres after Woofy Acres had already abandoned dogs. Of those, 23 dogs were handed over after Jaime Link’s red-flag email describing erratic behavior and signs of hoarding.

Unaccounted animals include Tate, Bonnie, and Gadget, who came from Fullerton. None of these dogs are in the boarding facility. The shelter booked them as successful in its statistics, but the actual fate of the animals is unknown. OC residents concerned about what happened to these dogs can contact the Board of Supervisors and their local elected officials to ask for a full accounting.

By hadem