Mission Viejo Shelter Dogged by Controversy

A former Mission Viejo Animal Services Center volunteer dropped a bombshell this week.

“We are instructed to lie . . .,” Dianne Doyle wrote in letters to the media and the city councils of Mission Viejo, Laguna
Niguel and Aliso Viejo, which contract the center for shelter services.

After three years there, Doyle left due to issues of mismanagement, she confessed.

As reported in the Mission Viejo Dispatch, Doyle alleged:

  • The shelter never runs at full capacity. “Out of the 48 open kennels, we rarely have more than 22 dogs at a time.”
  • Shelter manager Gail DeYoun “regularly turns away the public who want to relinquish their animals because it is up to her who we take in or not.”
  • While labeling itself a “pro-humane” shelter, “the amount of euthanasia taking place recently was the last straw for me.”
  • Volunteers are instructed to lie to customers when asked about the few number of pets at the shelter, saying that the low numbers are because of the high adoption rate, “when in reality it is because they turn away so many dogs by owners
    wanting to surrender them or by the public who find stray animals.

Doyle's letter produced a counterpoint in the Dispatch from DeYoun, who began by thanking the 85 volunteers at the shelter, the 25 veterinarians who donate their services and the DAWG group that provides medical care to the animals.

DeYoun went on to claim the animal shleter “is operating at 100 percent capacity on any given day throughout the year.”

It might appear to a volunteer that all kennels are not always filled with potential pets because the facility's management must take into account the necessity of quarantining some animals, as well as maintaining open kennels for the daily impounds of stray and owner-surrendered pets.

She refuted Doyle's incriminating claims and denied anyone was ever instructed to lie.

“Management is unaware of any circumstance that a volunteer would 'lie
to the public,'       specifically if asked why we have empty kennels,” Doyle claimed.
“Volunteers are trained to direct the public to staff should the public
ask any question in which they feel uncomfortable or unsure of
answering, they should direct them to staff.”

She ended by applauding her own shelter, saying, “There are few animal shelters able to achieve so much.”

In response to the letters the Dispatch posted, many shelter volunteers and ex-volunteers left comments, with some blasting the allegations and others saying, “Amen!”

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