No-Kill Utah moves closer to making the state a no-kill shelter haven for animals

NKUT's goal is for every shelter in the state to become a no-kill shelter, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Early in July, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary announced that the combined efforts of No-Kill Utah, Best Friends and a coalition of 62 animal welfare organizations statewide reduced the number of animals euthanized in Utah animal shelters in 2020 by 1,161.

Canyons around Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, St. George News

Best Friends maintains data on its website in regards to each state’s efforts to achieve statewide no-kill status. Utah ranks 13th on the list, with an animal save rate of nearly 88%. Of the 44,767 cats and dogs that entered Utah animal shelters, 39,358 were placed in homes.

Nearly 70% of the state’s animal shelters are no-kill. On its website, No-Kill Utah lists the organizations that participate in its no-kill initiative. Washington County no-kill shelters include St. George, LaVerkin, Veyo and RSQ Dogs. Iron County boasts numerous no-kill shelters, including Enoch City, Parowan and Ivins.

Cedar City Animal Shelter is not included on the No-Kill Utah list as a no-kill shelter. However, Cedar City Police Sgt. Clint Pollock, who oversees the shelter, contacted St. George News on Tuesday to say that the shelter actually has been no-kill for two years. (See Ed. note)

However, Best Friends spokesperson Temma Martin said that many communities struggling with feral animal populations still have not adopted a Trap-Neuter-Return policy.

Super cute kittens, St. George, Utah, May 17, 2021 | Photo by Paul Dail, St. George News

“Communities have trouble managing feral cat colonies,” Martin says. “When these communities come onboard and adopt a community cat program, the reduction in the number of animals killed in shelters is immediate.”

Under the protection of the Trap-Neuter-Return policy, feral cats are trapped and taken to the local shelter. There, the cats are vaccinated, neutered and implanted with an identification chip. Many can be adopted immediately; others are released to live out their lives in the wild.

What is No-Kill Utah? 

In 2014, 57 shelters and animal welfare organizations in Utah joined efforts to create the no-kill initiative. The initiative is clear in its mandate – make Utah a no-kill shelter state. Spearheaded by Best Friends, No-Kill Utah enlists shelters, organizations and individuals to reduce the number of animals euthanized in the state’s shelters. Their objective is to achieve a 90% save threshold.

The remaining 10% of animals may be euthanized for a variety of issues, including severe or untreatable medical conditions or behavioral issues.

Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends, said in the news release: “We saw communities, shelters, and individuals step up for animals in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and now we are closer than ever before to achieving our goal of no-kill by 2025.”

The no-kill benchmark

States that achieve a 90% save rate are considered no-kill states. To date, New Hampshire and Delaware are no-kill states. Rhode Island and Vermont are on the cusp of achieving no-kill status.

Though there has been progress made in Utah, Castle said the work is not yet finished.

“Since we announced our no-kill goal the number of cats and dogs killed in shelters has decreased by 76 percent, down from about 1.5 million in 2016,” Castle said. “This is incredible progress, but we must never lose sight that there are still over 950 cats and dogs killed every day just because they do not have a safe place to call home.”

Nearly 347,000 cats and dogs were euthanized in shelters countrywide in 2020, the release states. While this number is high, it also represents the largest year-over-year reduction in the number of animals put down in America’s shelters. In 2019, 625,000 animals were euthanized. The dramatic reduction in 2020 elevated the country to an 83% save rate.

Ed. note: This article has been updated to include information sent to St. George News from Cedar City Police Sgt. Clint Pollock.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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