OC animal shelter won’t turn anyone away, even as they have less to give

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Jenna Kagel

A tiny kitten was found in critical condition in a yard alone and brought to the Animal Assistance League of Orange County. The group also rescued bunnies that were abandoned on Easter. Photos courtesy of Animal Assistance League of Orange County.

The Animal Assistance League of Orange County (AALOC) is a no-kill shelter that helps lost or abandoned pets, and educates people on better pet care. They’re currently overseeing about 150 animals, says President Colleen McCammon. That includes 78 cats, two dogs, and four bunnies who are in-house, plus 38 cats in foster care and 25 dogs in foster care. 

They’ve been operating for nearly 50 years, but staying afloat financially is now “more than a struggle,” she admits. 

“We are the organization that veterinarians refer people to when they can't afford an emergency with their pet. We are the one that animal control sends people to who need help just doing spay and neuter, or for pet food, or for placement.”

AALOC also offers community assistance programs for low-income seniors, disabled people, and those experiencing homelessness who all need help taking care of their pets’ basic needs, including just food. More emergencies have also been happening due to COVID-induced financial strain. 

More than 1000 calls come to AALOC per month, and they don’t turn anyone away. 

“We don't say no. But how do we keep saying yes — when the last two years, we haven't even been able to have a fundraiser because of COVID? So at a time when we are being asked to help more and more and more, we have less and less to give,” McCammon says. 

She hopes that people become more aware of the organization and what they do — and if possible, consider donating

“We struggle to help everybody who comes to us … even honestly when we dig into our own pockets to make it happen. … Their welfare is in our hands. … For a lot of these animals, they don't have anybody else.”