BREAKING: Utah governor signs Best Friends BDL preemption bill

By Julie Castle

What an amazing week for Utah’s animals! Over the weekend, we launched No-Kill Utah (NKUT), the initiative to take the entire state of Utah to a collective 90 percent save rate. The response has been phenomenal, as we knew it would be, including an editorial endorsement from the Salt Lake Tribune supporting no-kill as a policy. To our knowledge, this is a first for a major American paper to officially endorse no-kill in this way.

Now we received word this afternoon that Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed House Bill 97, the Best Friends bill that would prohibit any local government in the state from enacting breed-discriminatory legislation. As a citizen of Utah, you have the right to own any dog you choose, including a pit-bull-terrier-like dog, without the fear of your family pet being impounded simply because of breed.

There are a lot of people to thank on this one, starting with Utah Representative Brian King. Rep. King has been a tireless advocate for this law, and led the fight within the halls of the Utah State Capitol. We also have to thank Bradley Sidle, an advocate for pit-bull-terrier-like dogs. He did an amazing job of educating Rep. King on this issue, and he helped kick-start this entire process. And, of course, Senators Okerlund and Dayton who helped usher this through on the Senate side of the Capitol.

All of the Best Friends staff involved in this also deserve praise ... from senior legislative attorney Ledy VanKavage, who has racked up some impressive wins, to others on her team, including Laura Handzel. We also had great support from so many other staffers like Melissa Lipani, a valued member of the Best Friends social media team. She brought her very own ambassador Captain Cowpants. Certainly lawmakers couldn’t help but be persuaded once they’d met him.

And, of course, thank you to every single Best Friends supporter who took action on the many alerts we sent out related to HB97. Your voice matters tremendously!

This is a major step forward for the animals in Utah. Killing animals based on appearance doesn’t make communities any safer.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society