Sounding Off: Animals need help from us

Huntington Beach contracts with OC Animal Care in the city of Orange, serving 17 cities and unincorporated areas (more than 2.1 million people). I believe it is more than a $600,000 yearly fee.

Every coastal city from Seal Beach down through San Clemente serves its residents with its own animal shelter, as do Irvine and Mission Viejo.

The 50-plus-year-old shelter in Orange kills approximately 50% of animals admitted, adding to the 4 million animals killed annually in the U.S.

Though Huntington claims to be animal-friendly with the "dog beach" section, most people are not aware of the thousands of dollars that the all-volunteer group must raise annually to pay our city in fees in order to continue "dog beach." (I am sure our city enjoys the revenue from its parking areas serving "dog beach" with meters now accepting credit cards).

Many Huntington residents are unaware that the Orange County Humane Society on Newland Street serves only Costa Mesa and Westminster. And many are not even aware that the shelter exists, since the new building built two years ago for the animal hospital and attached shelter in the back has no sign to be seen from the road. I am sure many wonder who these people are with orange shirts seen walking dogs in the area. Yes, they are volunteers working hard to give the homeless pets exercise and hope.

There is a small cat room, which is loaded with cats and kittens, confined in small cages week after week, having no place to walk, but only a spot to lay down next to their litter box. Bunnies are also there.

From my own research, the majority of people do not know that the Orange County Humane Society in no way is affiliated with the real Humane Society (HSUS), not adhering to its guidelines. Nor is there any affiliation with the county and its rules. It is simply a name, misleading so many people, who relinquish their pets assuming they will be safe until placed in a home.

My main point is to urge people to make adoption their first option, and to be sure to neuter and spay all animals in an attempt to lessen the massive killings in the shelters. There should be a law mandating neuter/spay and a fine for offenders, but we should provide free neuter/spay except, possibly, for American Kennel Club registered breeders.

With the implementation of mandating neuter/spay, we could help stop these unscrupulous backyard breeders, and I believe within 10 years, the kill rate in the shelters would reduce drastically, thus significantly minimizing the need for the huge expense of maintaining animal shelters (food, supplies, kill drugs/medications, paid staff, maintenance of transport trucks and buildings, etc.).

As an independent rescuer and an Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals member, I am confident we could have our own shelter. Pet food can be donated, and with a volunteer program and the help of Save Our Strays of Huntington Beach, which has been relentlessly saving for a no-kill shelter, it can be done. It is only our fair city that would not support this venture. Think about this the next time you have to drive 13 miles to pick up your animal, or, sadly, to relinquish one.

Low-cost neuter and spay is provided by Golden State Humane Society in Garden Grove, which can be contacted at (714) 638-8111, and at Animal Medical Center in Fountain Valley, which can be contacted at (714) 531-1155.

To save a life, go to the Humane Society on Newland or to the county shelter on The City Drive in Orange.

A local no-kill, nonprofit rescue charity, Second Chance Pet Adoptions, has a varied selection of cats and kittens also needing good homes. Visit http://www.secondchancepetadoptions.org or see the kitties at Petco on Warner Avenue and Springdale Street and at PetSmart on Edinger Avenue, next to Michaels across from Bella Terra. Volunteers and donations are always needed.

LYNN McCLUNEY is a Huntington Beach resident and a member of the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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