County Public Health announced Thursday it has hired Dori Villalon as the new operations manager for the county animal shelters. Creating her position was one of the recommendations in the American Humane Association’s 2015 assessment of Animal Services. Villalon will oversee the “shelter and field operations at the three locations,” said Jan Glick, director of Animal Services, including “animal care, customer care, and field activities and responses.” Glick stated the department was in the process of implementing more than 450 recommendations in the Humane Association report.
The report had suggested the need for both an operations manager and a central dispatch for employees’ safety in the field. County Public Health’s Oversight Team determined a new operations manager would be most effective in the short-term, and that the dispatch position could be requested in the next budget cycle.
Among the findings by the American Humane Association was a culture of suspicion between volunteers and shelter workers, and also a degree of “undue influence” by politically connected community members. Its key finding suggested a better business model, possibly privatization, and that a lack of system-wide standard operating procedures caused confusion and conflict. The animal welfare group also lamented the “severe emotional distress” observed in dogs that had been at the shelter for two to three years, a lack of medical oversight, and a lack of training for volunteers and employees.
In addition to hiring Villalon, Glick stated improvements were already being implemented. Her department planned to continue work on such items as animal enrichment programs, animal population management for faster positive outcomes, performance standards, consistent OSHA compliance, standardized operating procedures, and expanding the use of a uniform software program.
Villalon, who starts her new job on Monday, has worked in animal welfare for more than 30 years, the county’s press release states, and is “nationally recognized for bringing a progressive approach to animal and client care.” She has directed public and private shelters in California, Colorado, and the Midwest, and she has a bachelor’s degree in Animal Welfare Management from Sonoma State University.
“Her background and experience make her ideal for helping us shape the future of our program,” said Glick.