New Salt Lake center advances statewide push to no-kill

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 13, noon to 2:00 p.m., the Salt Lake community will celebrate the grand opening of the latest Best Friends Pet Adoption Center. The new center, located in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City, will provide an adoption outlet for Salt Lake County shelter animals, as well as regional office space for Best Friends staff. Sugar House is one of the oldest communities in the Salt Lake area and also one the most trendy. The center is an exciting next step in our push to help Utah achieve its no-kill aspirations, and I am proud to be part of the “Leash-Cutting Ceremony.”

Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the Union. It has grown by 35 percent since Best Friends launched No More Homeless Pets in Utah in 1999. In that same time period, while the population has soared, statewide shelter deaths have dropped even more dramatically and have been reduced by 51% thanks to an impressive collaboration among local rescues, municipal shelters and humane organizations. In those intervening years, Best Friends has helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals all over the state by providing low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter resources, facilitating adoptions, and initiating innovative trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs for community cats.

The adoption center will feature 60 animals – 20 dogs and 40 cats on a typical day – in a people-friendly environment that includes a cozy get-acquainted room, where potential adopters can spend some one-on-one time with a dog or a cat. It will also be a primary information source for pet lovers, which will include resources for free or low-cost spay/neuter services and support for those who care for community cats, including spay/neuter vouchers and humane trap rentals. I expect it to be a key ingredient in helping Salt Lake County break through the no-kill threshold of a 90% save rate for dogs and cats, which it is rapidly approaching, as is another Best Friends partner, West Valley City, the most populous community in the state.

Best Friends–Utah executive director Anna Gonce ably heads up a coalition of 56 shelters, 26 rescue groups, and passionate individuals. To date, 10 Utah communities are now no-kill, and the entire state is on the verge of following suit (it currently enjoys close to an 85% save rate for dogs).

I must say it is also very personally gratifying to me to see the progress that has been made since those early days of Best Friends more than 20 years ago when I could be found talking to people about no-kill while seated at a table outside one or another Salt Lake area market or mall in the dead of winter or the height of summer! I am especially pleased that so many Utah public officials have joined in support of our efforts – leaders such as Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County mayor Ben McAdams, as well as county council members Arlyn Bradshaw and Soren Simonsen. They are leaders with vision and an understanding that the public whom they serve consider pets to be a part of the family. And, quite apart from their own love of animals, they know that a community that extends kindness and compassion to its most vulnerable members will foster the highest quality of life for all.

If you are in the Salt Lake City area, I hope you take this invitation from me to visit the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center located at 2005 S. 1100 E. The office will be open for regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Adoption hours at the center will be Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Who knows, you might just meet your new best friend.

Gregory Castle