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
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