What’s in a Name? Pet Resource Center: Part 2

In our last blog post entitled ‘What’s in a Name? Pet Resource Center’, we explained why we’re no longer referring to ourselves as an “animal shelter” and are now calling ourselves a “Pet Resource Center.” This follow-up post will expand on why the Humane Society of Utah has adopted this new model by showcasing the educational services we provide through behavior and humane education.

Humane Education

At HSU, we believe that educating younger generations is the key to ensuring better lives for animals in the future. We support this belief by providing education sessions for schools and community groups at no cost. Our colorful and thought-provoking presentations are for youth from preschool to senior high. We cover age-appropriate topics from basic pet care to complex ethical and moral issues. No matter the age group, participants are taught the importance of proper pet care, spaying/neutering to control the pet population, choosing adoption first, and how to appropriately interact with animals. Teachers can schedule field trips to our shelter to meet and learn about our humane education animals and tour our center. 

Young Boy in Kitty City
A young boy with curly brown hair plays with an adoptable gray cat in kitty city.


HSU also offers a H.E.R.O. Summer, Fall, and Spring Camp for children ages first through sixth grade at our Pet Resource Center. During a typical day at our week-long H.E.R.O. (Humane Educators Reaching Out) Camp, children participate in age-appropriate humane education workshops, presentations, games, and more. Workshops focus on different types of animals each day, many with visitors – two-legged, four-legged, finned, and feathered – from other animal welfare groups in Utah. Our education services are in constant demand throughout the Wasatch Front and beyond. In 2021, our Humane Education Program reached 10,226 children – a 37% increase from 2020.

Behavior and Training

Since many pet guardians experience behavioral issues that can create challenging problems and these frustrations can lead guardians to consider rehoming their pet, our Pet Resource Center offers adopters the opportunity to meet with our certified trainers at no cost. 

Dog training class at Humane Society of Utah
A room is full of people sitting and looking at a large screen with dog training slides.

Our behavior staff are all certified trainers and regularly participate in continuing education to ensure they are familiar with the latest understanding and best practices on animal behavior. Our trainers are committed to a behavior program based on positive reinforcement and only use humane training techniques utilizing evidence-based learning theories. We know that committing to positive reinforcement helps us build trusting relationships with animals while effectively meeting our training goals. And we feel it is our responsibility to provide the most effective training options for our community.

Animal Shelters Across Utah are Full: Humane Society of Utah Offers Half-Off Adoption Fees to Encourage Adoptions. 

Contact: Guinn Shuster
Email: guinn@utahhumane.org                              

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2022

Murray — Utah, June 15, 2022 — Humane Society of Utah (HSU) offers half off all adoption fees through June 30, during the Summer of Love adoption special. Each pet for adoption has been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and medically and behaviorally assessed.

“Shelters across the state are at or over capacity.”, said HSU Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Guinnevere Shuster. “Adoptions are slowing down, and animals are waiting longer than usual to get adopted. By making adoption affordable for everyone we hope to move homeless pets into loving homes.”

There are additional benefits of adopting from the Humane Society of Utah:

  • HSU offers training advice from certified dog trainers and educational information to support pet families for the animal’s life span
  • 10% off preventative veterinary care services at our Murray location clinic for the pet’s life
  • Speak or email with an expert about any behavior or training concerns
  • By opening your heart and home to a new pet, you will help create space in the shelter for other homeless companion animals in need

Adoptable pets come with a free wellness exam from one of our Participating Veterinary Clinics within 30 days of adoption

HSU works with numerous local and rural animal shelters throughout the state of Utah to transfer in at-risk animals. Year-to-date, HSU has transferred in 290 cats and dogs from Utah animal shelters to provide relief from overcrowding and help these homeless pets find homes.

“Many of our shelter partners here in Utah have reached out to the transfer department pleading for assistance with overcrowding,” said HSU Transfer Department Supervisor Spenser Betenson. “For example, in the first six days of June, Uintah County Animal Shelter brought in 54 animals, which is a massive number for a small rural shelter.”

By hosting this adoption special, the Humane Society of Utah hopes to encourage adoptions and make room for the increasing number of homeless pets.

A Fond Farewell

Dear Friends,


Throughout my life and career, change is something that I have welcomed. Change helps us grow,
challenge ourselves and expand our perspectives. Beginning mid-June, I will be stepping my career
forward and taking on new and different challenges as the Executive Director of the Stanislaus Animal
Services Agency. It’s an organization much like HSU with the added element of animal control law
enforcement. While I’m excited about this change, I hold enormous amounts of fulfillment for all that
we have accomplished together for the betterment of animals at the Humane Society of Utah over the
past 3 plus years. It’s these milestones and moments that I will carry with me for a lifetime.

The Humane Society of Utah is a special place. A place that is not reliant on a single person, it is the collective group that creates the greatness that is HSU. I leave the Humane Society of Utah knowing that the future of the organization is bright. In the past 3 years, we have achieved so much. We opened a new clinic in St. George and purchased a large lot for future St. George expansion. We did this while eliminating all our debt, building up over $3 million in reserves, and growing from a $6.2 million annual budget to nearly a $9 million budget, putting us in a very strong financial position for the future to help even more animals. Our programs expanded as we passed statewide legislation benefiting animals for the first time in 14 years; we have helped more families than ever keep pets in their homes and out of shelters; we have educated more children than ever throughout the state; we have expanded our transport program; we even began a pilot program with the University of Utah to have a social work student work with families needing help with animal situations. We accomplished all of this and more while the organization navigated the major challenges of COVID. With a solid team of leaders, our robust volunteer corps, our generous donors, and our outstanding staff, HSU will continue to grow and enhance the lives of animals and the people who love them for many decades to come.


I will always have a special place in my heart for my colleagues. The amazing people who work here have hearts so big and a passion so real that it astounded me every day. Every one of them is my hero. I truly thank each of them for being such a positive force that enhances the lives of animals and people, every day. I am grateful for my time as a part of this compassionate and caring team.


That I have had the privilege of playing a small role in the amazing story of the Humane Society of Utah
has been a joyful honor.


With great appreciation,

Vaughn Maurice

Meet Our St. George Medical Director, Dr. Katie Gray, DVM

We are thrilled to introduce you to our Medical Director, Dr. Katie Gray, DVM, who oversees all medical activities in our spay, neuter, and vaccination clinic in St. George. Dr. Gray is originally from Minnesota where she graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in April 2011.  While in veterinary school she planned and implemented a humane education program for grades 1-4.  She then completed a small animal rotating internship at Texas A&M University. She moved to Oregon in 2013 and was the Medical Director at the Bend Spay and Neuter Project and practiced high volume spay/neuter for 6 years before moving to Utah in 2020.

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray poses with white dog in open field.

Additionally, Dr. Gray received training in high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter at both Emancipet in Austin, TX, and Humane Alliance in Asheville, NC.  She has directed and participated in numerous MASH spay/neuter clinics including monthly free clinics at the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon. She has three Great Pyrenees rescue dogs who are all “couch potatoes” and a one-eared rescue cat. 

In early 2022, Dr. Gray sat down with a member of our team to shed light on her goals for HSU’s St. George clinic, the current challenges she’s facing, and how HSU is working to find solutions. 

What is your overall goal and vision as the Medical Director for our new St. George clinic?

Dr. Gray: My goal is always to provide excellent patient care, ensuring that any patient (shelter, owned, and TNR cats) that comes through our doors is treated with the highest level of care and has the least stressful experience possible. In our first year of operations, we completed 3,265 spay/neuter surgeries including 360 community cat TNR surgeries and I would like to see this number continue to grow each year we are open in order to help prevent overpopulation and lessen the number of animals entering the shelters and rescues in the area. 

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray DVM hold small puppy with red eye patch and freckles over her shoulder.

Can you provide specifics on what you’d like to contribute to our St. George clinic as the Medical Director? 

Dr. Gray: I would like to contribute leadership that fosters a positive environment for our staff and for the clients and patients we serve. A strong, cohesive team is key to being able to make an impact in the community and serve as many animals as possible.

What are some of the positive aspects of the animal welfare community in St. George?

Dr. Gray: The animal welfare community in St. George, but also in the surrounding areas has been wonderful to work with! We are lucky to have so many shelters and rescues in the area that care so deeply about animals. Because of this, we have been able to make much more of an impact in the community.

What are some challenges currently facing St. George’s animal welfare community and what are some potential solutions to these challenges? 

One of the largest challenges in the area when we first got here was the ability for shelters and rescues to obtain affordable and timely spay/neuter surgeries. We were able to work with all the rescues and shelters with their schedules to provide affordable surgeries for animals on an as-needed basis as best as we can accommodate sometimes with same-day notice.

The other large challenge is that Washington County has the most pet shops of any county in all of Utah and all of them source puppies from puppy mills. Many pet shop dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral problems resulting from a lack of necessary socialization and unexpected illnesses that owners are unaware of at the time of purchase. A solution to this issue would be to pass a local or state ordinance that would ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops where they could instead showcase adoptable dogs and cats from local shelters/rescues or hold adoption events with shelters/rescues in their shop space as well as selling pet supplies to the adopters.

St. George Medical Director Dr. Katie Gray DVM hold small puppy with pointy ears in her fleece jacket.

What do you enjoy about living in St. George? 

St. George is a beautiful city and I love being so close to so many national parks. My husband and I regularly visit and hike (with our dogs) on many different trails. 

Where do you hope our spay, neuter, and vaccine St. George clinic will be in 2-3 years?

I hope that we are continuing to provide our current services as well as offering some new services for affordable prices in order to provide even more access to basic care for animals in the community.

What do you enjoy most about working with and supporting animals?

I was one of those animal people that said I was going to be a veterinarian since I was 2 or 3 years old. I love working with animals and being able to help in any way that I can. I have a passion for shelter work and TNR as it allows me to take care of animals that no one else may be looking out for and hopefully improving their lives and helping to find them homes. 

June is Adopt a Cat Month! Here’s Why Cats Make Purr-fect Pets

It may be true that you can’t buy happiness, but you can adopt a cat, and we think that’s pretty dang close! June is National Adopt a Cat Month, and coming in on the heels of “kitten season” (the period of the year in which the most kittens are born), it’s the perfect time to think about adding a feline to the family.

What cat with orange ears sit on cat tree.

Here are a few reasons to consider a shelter kitty for your next pet:

  • You’re saving a life, maybe even multiple lives!
    • Adopting a cat not only makes for a happier and longer life for the animal you adopted, and for many cats who will come after them. We have far more animals on the planet than we have space for in animal shelters, and adopting one opens up room for another animal to have the chance at finding a home. So, you’re making a difference to far more cats than you may have thought!
  • Petting a cat a day keeps the doctor away?
    • You may have heard before that a cat’s purr has “healing powers”, but is that true? The short answer is yes! When you hold a purring cat, your body releases positive endorphins, which are basically happy chemicals for your brain. This can improve mental health and reduce stress, which means you are less at risk for stress-related medical complications. 
  • Cats are easy-going pets
    • Cats are notoriously independent, and they are a great option for pet owners who would like a lower-maintenance companion. “[Cats] don’t require a large amount of outdoor time and physical exercise,” said Gabby Davis, an HSU adoption counselor. “They are wonderful companions that are happy just existing in the same space as you while you complete your own activities, but love playtime, enrichment and training!”
  • Adopting a cat from a shelter is inexpensive
    • Not only is adopting a cat from a shelter going to save you money as compared to purchasing from a breeder, but shelter cats most often come with vaccinations, spayed/neutered, and have been recently examined by our medical team. Aside from saving a chunk of cash on those medical fees, adopting from a nonprofit like HSU means the money you pay for your kitty will go right back towards the care of other animals like them!
  • Cats are adorable
    • There’s a reason felines have ruled the internet for all these years– people can’t get enough of them! Not only do they have cute little faces and toe-beans, but they have silly and charming habits too, like chasing string toys or a catnip mouse. And, in our opinion, there is absolutely no feeling in the world like a cat cuddling up beside you.

Adopt One of These Shelter Cats!

  • Grey shelter cat looking up against black backdrop.
  • Blue eyed shelter cat lays on tile floor.
  • Black and white shelter cat plays with brown feather toy.
  • Long haired orange shelter cat lays on blue mat in studio with white backdrop.
  • Black and white cat looks up with big green eyes.

To view all our adoptable cats and kittens click here.

Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

Contact: Guinn Shuster                        
Email: guinn@utahhumane.org   

News Release
Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2022

News Release
Humane Society of Utah Offers Hot Weather Safety Tips For Pets

Murray – UT, May 20, 2022 – As the temperatures rise, it is important that pets and pet owners alike take precautions to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. While many animals spend quite a bit of their time outdoors, some extra precautions are necessary this time of year to prevent heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other hot-weather ailments.

The Humane Society suggests the following hot weather tips this summer season:

  • Keep pets indoors more often during extreme heat, do not leave them outside all day
  • Make sure pets have a cool place to retreat to in the yard, such as a shady spot. Keep in mind that some outdoor dog houses can be hotter than the outdoor temps
  • Cool and fresh water should be available to pets at all times, both indoors and outdoors
  • If the asphalt is too hot for your hands and feet, it is too hot for your pets. Place your hand on the sidewalk for 10 seconds to test the temperature
  • Check pets for ticks, foxtails, and grass seeds following outdoor activity
  • Ensure that your yard is free of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats such as lilies, sago palms, and rhododendrons, and be careful with the use of insecticides and weed killers, which may be poisonous for your pets
  • If your pet wants to share your plate at a summer BBQ, know what foods are not pet-safe, such as onions, avocados, olives, garlic, grapes, cooked bones, and alcohol
  • Do not leave pets unattended near water– not all pets can swim! Limit the amount of pool water your pets drink, chlorine and other chemicals can be dangerous, and rinse your pets off after taking a swim in chlorinated or salty water.
  • If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breed such as a pug, persian cat, or any type of bulldog, know that their short noses cause them to overheat quicker than other animals. Overweight and older pets are also at higher risk for heatstroke, so keep these furry friends in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible
  • Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles! Doing so is a major risk for heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat-related death.

5th Annual Bark at the Moon Dog-Friendly Event Returns to The Gateway

Contact: Guinn Shuster

Email: guinn@utahhumane.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: May 20, 2022

Media Alert 

5th annual Bark at the Moon dog-friendly event returns to The Gateway on May 21, 2022 

Salt Lake City — Utah, May 21, 2022 Join us this Saturday from 4-8 p.m. for a family fun event that will raise funds to support the lifesaving programs at the Humane Society of Utah (HSU). The fundraiser is Presented by Mountain West Veterinary Specialist and supported by Fuzzy, Subaru USA, and The Arrow. Ticket prices begin at $20 and include admission to the festival. Dogs must be six months of age or older, up to date on vaccinations, and socialized with other dogs and people. 

“This is a fun community event to raise money for our homeless companion animals,” said Kaya Nielsen, HSU event manager. “We’re excited to return to The Gateway this year and grateful to the participating businesses for their support that allows us to bring people and pets together.”

The fundraising event will feature over 35 local vendors, food trucks, craft beer, live music, a splash zone for the dogs, a food truck for the dogs, Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, and more. 

“We are excited to be a part of Bark at the Moon and support the Humane Society of Utah with all the wonderful work they do for homeless pets in Utah,” said Kirsten Gull, Mountain West Veterinary Specialists spokesperson. “We are so glad to be part of this great community and love to be able to give back and support our local shelters, rescues, nonprofit organizations, and educational programs.

At 8 p.m., pets and people can participate in a group stroll around The Gateway.

Have the UltiMUTT Summer: Hot Weather Pet Safety

As the temperatures rise, it is important that pets and pet owners alike take precautions to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. While many animals spend quite a bit of their time outdoors, some extra precautions are necessary this time of year to prevent heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other hot-weather ailments.

Small white scruffy dogs runs across grass on a bright sunny day with tongue out panting and tail wagging.

The Humane Society of Utah suggests the following hot weather tips to keep your pets panting happily (and not heat-ily) this summer season:

  • Keep pets indoors more often during extreme heat, do not leave them outside all-day
  • Make sure pets have a cool place to retreat to in the yard, such as a shady spot. Keep in mind that some outdoor dog houses can be hotter than the outdoor temps
  • Cool and fresh water should be available to pets at all times, both indoors and outdoors
  • If the asphalt is too hot for your hands and feet, it is too hot for your pets. Place your hand on the sidewalk for 10 seconds to test the temperature
  • Provide pet-safe frozen treats to help your animals cool down
  • Make sure your pet is current on all their vaccinations, especially if they are going to be in close contact with other animals
  • Check pets for ticks, foxtails, and grass seeds following outdoor activity
  • Ensure that your yard is free of plants which are toxic to dogs and cats such as lilies, sago palms, and rhododendrons, and be careful with use of insecticides and weed killers, which may be poisonous to your pets
  • Make use of pet-safe sunscreens and bug repellents
  • Avoid leaving windows open around unattended pets. Even with a screen, there is a risk your pet could fall out or jump through the opening
  • If your pet wants to share your plate at a summer BBQ, know what foods are not pet-safe, such as onions, avocados, olives, garlic, grapes, cooked bones, and alcohol. 
  • Do not leave pets unattended near water– not all pets can swim! Limit the amount of pool water your pets drink, chlorine and other chemicals can be dangerous, and rinse your pets off after taking a swim in chlorinated or salty water. If your pet loves to cool off with a dip, consider investing in a pet lifejacket.
  • If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breed such as a pug, Persian cat, or any type of bulldog, know that their short noses cause them to overheat quicker than other animals. Overweight and older pets are also at higher risk for heat stroke, so keep these furry friends in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles! Doing so is a major risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat-related death. Even if the vehicle is on and air-conditioning is running, leaving pets unsupervised can lead to other emergencies such as the animal accidentally shifting a gear or engine failure.
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heat and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Fatigue
  • Mild weakness, stupor, or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • An elevated body temperature over 104 degrees

Mochi’s Story:  A Family’s Unexpected First Pet

Mochi was just four-months-old when he found himself up for adoption at the Humane Society of Utah’s Kitty City. This high-spirited, black and white striped kitten greeted everyone who passed by with an excited meow, as if to say, “pick me, pick me!” 

Adopting a Kitten

Shu Saito, one of HSU’s long-time corporate sponsors, took notice. Shu was visiting HSU that day to drop off, yet again, another generous donation to our nonprofit. Alongside him were his wife, Amy, and their five-year-old son, Kota. Amy and Kota had always wanted a cat of their own, but Shu had too many reservations. 

“My husband didn’t grow up with pets, so he didn’t know what to expect. He was worried that owning one would be more mess and responsibility than we could handle,” Amy explained. “But I told him on our way to HSU that it would be difficult for me to leave without adopting a kitten. I didn’t think in a million years he would be open to it.”

Amy grew up with cats and enjoyed their company so much; she is a “little obsessed.” She and Kota had tried to talk Shu into adopting one several times, but Shu wouldn’t budge. However, when Shu saw Kota and Mochi visiting that day, he had a change of heart. “Mochi and Kota got along from the start, and Kota was so excited to meet his new friend. It just felt right,” Amy shared.

A Family Falls In Love

The four of them have been a family for several months now, and it’s going better than expected. “There was a learning curve,” Amy explained. “We had to figure out Mochi’s personality and where we were going to put the litter box and how to keep it clean. But our son loves his new kitty so much. They sleep together every night.” 

Shu has fallen in love with Mochi, too, and vice versa. While Shu is lounging on the couch after a long day at work, Mochi will come to lay directly on top of him and fall asleep. “I love seeing the two of them together. It’s precious! Mochi has such a cute personality. He will bring us his little balls so we can play fetch, which I’ve never seen a cat do before.”  

Amy and her family are over the moon with their unexpected adoption. In a short time, Mochi has become an essential part of their family, and they wouldn’t have it any other way, litter box hassle and all.

$5,000 reward offered for Utah puppy thrown from a car window

Contact: Guinn Shuster                         
Email: guinn@utahhumane.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2022

News Release
$5,000 reward offered for Utah puppy thrown from a car window

Murray – Utah, May 17, 2022 — Humane Society of Utah offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction in Malin’s case. According to Kevin Hansen of the South Salt Lake Animal Services, a bystander saw a 2-month-old puppy thrown from a moving car at 3300 S 300 W on Friday, May 13, 2022. South Salt Lake Animal Services named the critically injured puppy “Malin,” who is now receiving medical attention for two broken legs, two fractured ribs, and a punctured lung.

The Humane Society of Utah’s advocacy director, Rachel Heatley, praised South Salt Lake Animal Services’ response. “South Salt Lake Animal Services handled Malin’s injuries with urgency and deep compassion, ensuring Malin received the treatment she needed,” she said. “We only hope this reward will help bring the perpetrators of this cruelty to justice.”   

Malin is currently in the care of South Salt Lake Animal Services and will be brought into a foster home to help her heal this evening. The Humane Society of Utah is grateful for the tireless efforts of animal control officers in helping animals like Malin and caring for animals in our community. 

The Humane Society of Utah urges anyone with information regarding who injured Malin to contact the South Salt Lake Animal Service’s Office dispatch at 801-840-4000. Any tipster can choose to remain anonymous.