Power of partnership

In 2011, only 58% of shelter pets were leaving the West Valley City (WVC) shelter alive. In June of 2012, WVC, the largest municipality in the Salt Lake Valley, committed to a no-kill goal and entered into a public/private partnership with Best Friends to put their community on a no-kill track. They were anxious to join a growing list of communities around the country that have declared that killing healthy, treatable shelter animals is no longer an option. At the same time, all across Utah, the save rates are going through the roof!

On the heels of Salt Lake County’s announcement of lifesaving breakthroughs in collaboration with Best Friends, the civic leaders of West Valley City, along with neighboring Taylorville, reached out to us for help, and we were more than happy to work closely with them to achieve their goal. We committed $350,000 over two years to the effort, and the city also made a very important financial commitment.

Best Friends–Utah put together aggressive adoption and spay/neuter programs and implemented a solid trap/neuter/return (TNR) program for community cats. We took the effort to the public, letting the community know their involvement was vital.

We knew from the numbers that cats needed promotion to dramatically increase adoptions. A set of innovative adoption programs helped boost those numbers by 30% compared with the previous year. You name it, if it would move cats out of the shelter, we did it. Kittypalooza, $5 felines, $9 for 9 Lives, and $12 cat adoptions during December all contributed to the dramatic rise in kitty lives saved.

Advocating the same methodology that we helped to develop in Jacksonville, we helped West Valley enact the Feral Freedom program. Cats are no longer caught and killed. Instead, cats are trapped, fixed, microchipped and returned to where they were found. With adoption up 30%, and the feral freedom program in place, cat euthanasia overall is down 81%!

Since signing the contract with the city in June of 2012, incredible progress has been made. In fact, the Utah media highlighted the progress just this past December.

The threshold for a no-kill community is a 90% save rate of all animals entering the shelter. At 94%, West Valley City is setting the bar high, and the future looks very bright indeed for the homeless pets of one of Utah’s largest communities.