Orange County’s crowded animal shelter closes ‘surrender’ portal

Orange County’s crowded animal shelter closes ‘surrender’ portal
·3 min read

Orange County Animal Services stopped taking appointments this week for pet owners to give up animals they can’t keep.

The agency, which manages the animal shelter on Conroy Road near the Mall at Millenia, shuttered an online “surrender” portal for pet owners Tuesday when the kennel population grew beyond capacity to 216 dogs, according to an email to its rescue partners.

The uncommon step was among several strategies taken to ease crowding, said Diane Summers, Animal Services manager.

“We basically just needed to get ahead,” she said, calling the move “very temporary.”

“It’s somewhat unusual but we’ve done this before,” Summers said. “We’re just at a point where we need to focus on animals we already have in our care before we take in additional ones. We’re asking pet owners to really look for a resolution before coming to us.”

The shelter requires an appointment to surrender a pet and charges $15 to take an animal, according to its website.

Pet owners with “urgent situations” can email and the agency will try to help “as best possible.”

The agency appealed to the public for help this summer as the kennel population swelled, including last week when Animal Services suspended adoption fees, which pay for vaccinations, micro-chipping and deworming treatment of animals in county care.

On Facebook last week, shelter staff appealed to the community “to understand our situation.”

“Currently there are 338 animals inside our shelter. There are over 200 in foster care. And every day brings 20-25 more animals; as surrenders, strays, abandonments, cruelties. We are doing everything we can, but we cannot do this alone,” it read. “We aren’t a pet store. We aren’t breeders. We don’t get to pick when certain animals come in, certain ages, certain sizes, or certain breeds. Every animal that we care for, every animal that we hold on to, came to us from our community. From you. We are doing everything we can.”

The public responded over the weekend as 88 animals were adopted.

The agency suggests animal owners who are unable to keep a pet because financial or residential circumstances have changed to reach out to family, friends, neighbors, Facebook groups and rescue organizations on social media before asking for the shelter’s help.

“We should be the last resort,” Summers said.

Adoptions and a spate of foster placements this week dropped the dog population at the shelter.

“I have to give our community a lot of credit,” Summers said. “They always step up.”

In an email to registered rescue partners, Animal Services offered an incentive of $750 per dog for up to 10 of the agency’s “ready-to-go” dogs, an unusual pitch aimed at clearing space in the crowded shelter where many large dogs are “tripled up” in pens.

Summers said the close quarters raise the risks of dog fights and disease.

The “ready-to-go” canines have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.

For more information, email Animal Services at