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VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY -- Natural Perspective

We as a people care for animals. When birds were injured in the big

oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach in 1990, people turned out in

droves to help. When the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center had to close

this summer because it couldn’t afford to pave its parking lot, so many


people pitched in that the care center was able to reopen within a week.

The people in this city care so deeply for their animals that

Huntington Beach has an off-leash dog park, a dog beach and even a

restaurant that caters to dogs. That’s why it’s so surprising that


Huntington Beach lacks its own animal shelter and its own animal control

officer. If you’ve ever had to call for someone to pick up a stray dog or

rescue injured wildlife, you’re probably aware that our city is of no

help. Someone has to come from the county.

If you’ve ever lost your dog, you know that you have to go all the way

to the county animal shelter in Orange to look for it. And you have to

get there quickly, because they’ll only hold a beloved pet a short time

before euthanizing it.


Soon it may be even worse.

The county’s dilapidated facility, which is rife with management

problems, may move to Tustin. The irony of this situation is that there

is already a no-kill shelter in town. The Orange County Humane Society

animal shelter is on Newland Street, near Pacific Coast Highway. It takes

in strays from Westminster and Costa Mesa, but they won’t take our lost

pets. Why? Because Huntington Beach has no animal control officer and no

contract with the humane society. Instead, our city contracted with the


county to put our stray pets on a short temporary hold on death row in


We deserve better than that and so do our pets.

Huntington Beach is looking into the feasibility of building its own

shelter, but there’s an even better solution. We should follow the lead

of Long Beach. That city formed an alliance with the American Society for

the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to build a new facility to care for

Long Beach’s stray animals. Why can’t we do the same?

The city could work with Save Our Strays, a local group spearheaded by

Karen Chepeka. The group proposes to raise funds to build the shelter and

provide volunteers to work at the shelter. Chepeka pointed out that all

the dog license fees from Huntington Beach go to the county. We could put

that $400,000 from the fees to better use by spending it locally to house

our pets.

The existing Orange County Humane Society shelter in Huntington Beach

is already strained to the kennel walls with animals from Costa Mesa and

Westminster. They could use a new facility. We propose that Huntington

Beach investigate forming an alliance with the neighboring cities and a

nonprofit group, such as Save Our Strays, the Orange County Humane

Society or the ASPCA, to build a new shelter and provide animal care.

The city could be doing more for our wildlife too. At least half of

the injured and orphaned animals brought into the Wetlands and Wildlife

Care Center come from Huntington Beach, yet the city provides nothing for

their care. In addition to hiring an animal control officer and arranging

for a shelter for our pets, the city of Huntington Beach should be paying

the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center for its services in caring for our


We think our city should form an alliance with neighboring cities and

work with a pet-oriented, nonprofit plus the Wetlands and Wildlife Care

Center to adequately house our stray pets and care for our injured and

orphaned wildlife. * VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY are Huntington Beach

residents and environmentalists. They can be reached at o7

vicleipzig@aol.comf7 .