A Statement from OC Animal Care's New Director Mike Kaviani
For those that I haven't met yet (and let's be honest, that's almost all of you since I haven't even officially started yet!), my name is Mike Kaviani, and as of tomorrow, August 17, I am the new Director of OC Animal Care.
Like so many of you, when I learned of the tragic death of the dog Valerie, and the horrifying reports of abuse, I felt sickened. In the subsequent days, I've felt anger and frustration. Now that we've learned the abuse was not true, it feels like a roller coaster of reactions. In the wake of this event, I want to channel these emotions into something productive, which is a process I've seen many in our animal-loving community go through as I've read the heartfelt messages across social media. I want us to still honor Valerie's memory.
As an outsider to this community up until this point (although I'd like to think I'm already one of you since I was born and raised in Irvine), I believe I've been able to view these events, and the various responses to it, through a unique lens. What I've observed as I've spoken with staff, members of the rescue community, and concerned citizens is that there is an incredibly consistent common goal. A common goal to find a way to create a safer community for our four-legged residents, and a goal to ensure Valerie's death is not in vain. This common goal, this ability to come together as people in the face of a false allegation or even alleged tragedy is what I believe to be a shining example of the best we as humans beings have to offer our world.
The adage about how the darkest times come before the dawn may be familiar to many of you, and, dare I say may be a bit corny, but I can't think of many darker events than what was alleged to have happened to our sweet Valerie. While we are relieved that Valerie was spared this abuse, the possibility of any animal enduring this is unacceptable. I can also confidently say that we are in fact at the dawning of a new day for OC Animal Care. While it is a challenge to begin my tenure here faced with such challenging circumstances, I feel a tremendous sense of honor, and find it a true privilege, to be in a position to work with you all and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to bring this community's common goal to light.
I pledge to you that Valerie's death will not be in vain. This last Tuesday the County’s Board of Supervisors put the wheels in motion by calling for a regional Do-Not Adopt list to protect animals across jurisdictional borders. They also directed me to implement my knowledge of best practices nationwide to ensure that our local shelter operations is a leader in forward-facing, animal safety practices. I pledge that we will continue to develop our progressive, thoughtful, compassionate, and thorough adoption process so that the homeless pets of OC find loving, well-matched forever homes, and we need you to pledge to help us achieve this. We will do this in honor of Valerie's memory. Starting today, we will begin gathering pledges from anyone who wishes to become a member of our upcoming volunteer Matchmaking Team. Once the program is established, we will contact everyone who has submitted a pledge so that we can get this team in action to work alongside staff to offer comprehensive adoption counseling for every single adoption we do.
While we realistically cannot have this team in place in time for this Saturday's Clear the Shelter event, this will be my second physical day at the shelter, and what better way to spend it than by working firsthand with our staff and volunteers that day! We will be implementing enhanced adoption counseling to ensure we're demonstrating a beginning version of the robust adoption program we will create together as we make a pledge for Valerie.
I also pledge to hear your ideas. Please be patient with me as I begin this journey, but please also reach out to me if you have ideas! I'd love to meet with you, and we'd love to show you around the shelter and discuss all the ways we can work together to make Orange County the greatest community for animals and the people that love them, and to honor Valerie's life in every life we save from here on out.
Director, OC Animal Care