12 Utah no-kill communities and counting: Learn how collaboration was key at this weekend's conference

Twelve Utah communities were recently added to Susan Houser’s “Out the Front Door” (OTFD) blog that chronicles the various communities around the country that have achieved and sustained the no-kill threshold of a 90% or greater live release rate for at least one year.

Some of the 12 Utah communities are larger, such as South Ogden and Riverdale; some are very small, such as our home base of Kanab at the southern end of the state. Many of these municipalities have been no-kill for some time, and it’s nice to see them added to this collection alongside their other no-kill compatriots.

To date, the list boasts 189 no-kill communities across the country. Hmm, do I sense a trend?

When we launched No More Homeless Pets in Utah (now known as Best Friends–Utah) in 2000 with one of the first Maddie’s® Fund grants, we believed that the entire state could make it to no-kill status. We created a statewide coalition – actually pioneered the coalition model with the understanding that together we could do more. With support from Maddie’s® Fund,we distributed grants and adoption subsidies. Staffing grants helped coalition partners grow, boosting their lifesaving ability. We launched innovative programs, such as the statewide Big Fix mobile spay/neuter clinic, and initiated model mall/retail adoption outlets, which were picked up around the country. Super adoptions became a household name as the events drew thousands, giving hundreds of pets each year a home over the course of only a weekend.

Those original ideas grew into larger and larger partnerships with the local governments. Our programs flourished and included a new kitten nursery, and increased efforts to save pit-bull-terrier-type dogs. We launched a new adoption center in the heart of the Salt Lake Sugarhouse neighborhood. All of these things are designed to create sustainable change statewide in Utah.

Now, our vision of a no-kill Utah is becoming a reality. There are other communities ready to pass the 90% mark, and a couple of larger municipalities already there that declined a listing on the OTFD blog. The primary Utah population centers of Salt Lake and West Valley City are saving lives at or very near to 90% for several months now and will be submitted to Susan’s database when they have sustained that level for a full year, but that is only a matter of time.

This kind of progress is all thanks to vision, belief in the possible, and good old-fashioned hard work. It’s pretty interesting timing to have these 12 communities recognized for their achievements as we are set to jet to Jacksonville for the No More Homeless Pets National Conference.

About 1,500 passionate animal welfare rescuers, volunteers, board members, executive directors, marketers, trainers, and more will descend on the River City for the annual installment of the conference. It’s an exciting time for animal welfare, maybe the most exciting in history. With 189 communities now saving a percentage of lives once thought (and amazingly, still thought by some) impossible, now is the time for us to push every community to no longer accept the norm.

We’d love to have you join us in Jacksonville. You can still attend the conference, but we have closed online registration. Walk in registrations will be accepted beginning this Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Waterfront in downtown Jacksonville. For more information, the schedule, and list of speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, you can click here.

Join us and learn how you can help Save Them All!

Julie Castle with Sunny the dog
Julie Castle
Best Friends Animal Society