Bob Marotto is retiring as Director of Orange County Animal Services. His last day will be March 3. Marotto has, for 16 years, headed up an animal shelter that has taken on and found homes for thousands of dogs, cats; some pigs and goats; chickens and even a 2,000 lb. bull.
He said he is retiring to spend more time in Rougemont at home with his wife and two sons. At his home you will also find two dogs, two cats and two goats. You can take the man out of the animal shelter, but, well, you can figure the rest.
“My plan is to kind of decompress and get centered in the here-and-now and catch up on the many chores that need to be done on our house and our property, and do a fair amount of fishing,” he said. “And we’ll see as 2021 wraps up if I have any other motivation.”
Marotto came to Orange County Animal Services in 2005 from Minnesota. During his time as director at OCAS, Marotto spearheaded increasing and improving outreach programs, fundraising, and led efforts to build a state-of-the-art animal care and adoption facility. The shelter now has a 90 percent live-release rate, compared with a 50 percent to 60 percent rate when he came to Orange County.
“That's taken a lot of effort and commitment, not just on the part of staff, but community members and community partners to make those historic strides,” Marotto said. “We are able to assure the the welfare of almost all the animals that we shelter.”
His care and respect for his co-workers is evident in the sometimes hilarious proclamation presented by the Board of Orange County Commissioners, which was primarily written by his staff. The proclamation listed Marotto’s achievements at OCAS, including the statement “Mr. Marotto has never put a dog and cat in the same cage and is known for grabbing a control pole and jumping in to help capture the most aggressive and elusive Chihuahua.”
If you ask him his proudest moment at Orange County Animal Services, it might come as a surprise that it’s from the past year. “I'm extremely proud of how we have adapted in the context of the COVID pandemic to continue to provide care for the animals and community we serve,” Marotto said. “I am especially proud of the efforts to create community-facing programs that provide assistance to people in the county who could be and are adversely impacted by the pandemic or the economic impacts. There are two of those programs: a Pet Food Assistance program and a Veterinary Care Assistance program. The Pet Food Assistance program, which is less than a year old, has already served about 1,500 dogs and cats. The Veterinary Care Assistance Program, which was not expected to get off the ground until the end of 2020, has served 20 or so people, and the number of people that are being served increases almost daily. In addition, our community spay and neuter program was able to sterilize almost 800 animals, which is the highest we've ever done. It’s remarkable that we were able to do that in the context of the pandemic. I'm proud that we have become an organization that has the capacity to evolve and adapt as needed to serve our community and the people and pets.”
Marotto said it’s difficult to pick what he will miss most about his role with Orange County Animal Services, but he said he believes it will be his service to animals and the community. “I have tried to be a good public servant in my career and provide service to the public and our relationship to the animals has been very important. There are opportunities to make a difference, sometimes a big difference. And then there are days when you want to cry because you haven't been able to do something. Things that, ideally, maybe should have been done. But trying to make a difference in the lives of all people in our community and the animals in our community — I will miss having the opportunity to do that,” he said.