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.

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.

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.

Oopsie, Don’t Forget Your Poopsie!

Did you know by not picking up after your dog, you’re putting other people and their pets at risk of exposure to harmful bacteria and parasites?

What happens when you don’t herd your turds?

The parasites and bacteria in dog waste can spread disease to humans and other animals, including wildlife. Even if your dog does not show symptoms of being sick, their waste can carry diseases harmful to humans and other pets. E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, Parvovirus, and parasites like ringworm and tapeworm, to name a few.

Stormwater will carry pet waste and other pollutants directly into our waterways. Animal waste also adds nitrogen to the water. The excess nitrogen depletes the oxygen in the water necessary for beneficial underwater grasses, wildlife, and fish. To protect our watershed and drinking water is why dogs are not allowed in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon. 

Dog waste is not a natural fertilizer. Since most dogs’ diets are high in protein, it has the reverse effect of fertilizer. Dog waste can take up to 12 months to fully break down.

Leave No Trace

“But I’ll grab it on the way out.” Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, many people don’t.

We are blessed to live in a state with incredible natural beauty and access to unforgettable outdoor adventure minutes from our doorsteps. While many of these areas remain open to dogs, there is no guarantee they’ll stay that way. And, let’s be honest, most people do not appreciate walking along a trail dotted with brightly colored poop bags or stepping in the dreaded pile of dog poo.

We encourage everyone to leave no trace and Be Part of the Solution to the Poo-lution! 

Here are some easy ways to pack out your dog’s poop without worrying about the smell.

After bagging your pup’s poop, use a clean peanut butter jar to seal the smell. Small peanut butter jars will easily fit in most fanny packs, backpacks, or purses. Best of all, they’re free! You can also purchase a smell-proof Bag off amazon for around $10-$15 or get fancy with a Ruffwear Pack it Out Bag.

Finally, one of the most important reasons you should be scooping your dog’s poop is because it’s the law. Many cities and towns have local ordinances requiring you to clean up after your dog. Please help us keep the Wasatch Front and surrounding areas dog-friendly by picking up after your dog. Whether it’s on or off-leash, it’s a privilege to access these areas with our four-legged friends.

Bea’s Story: A Dying Dog’s Happy, Last Days

Senior fospice dog Bea with a white face and jeweled collar sits in living room with plants behind her.

Beatrice, or Bea, for short, was 14-years old when she returned to the Humane Society of Utah’s Pet Resource Center in Murray. Her caregivers had adopted her from us years ago but needed to bring her back because they were moving to a place that didn’t accept bully breeds. Bea also had two large masses on her side, one of which was bleeding. This is usually a sign of cancer, and unfortunately, her family couldn’t afford the vet bills to care for her failing health.

After Bea’s masses were surgically removed and biopsied by our shelter veterinarian, she was diagnosed with cancer and given just 2-4 months to live. During her recovery, she took a turn for the worse and refused to eat, drink or even move. Anjela Sullenger, HSU’s Behavior and Training Manager, didn’t want Bea to spend her last days in the shelter, so she took her home to foster her. 

“She was in so much pain, so I didn’t expect her to live longer than a week,” Anjela explained. “But then she started to settle in at my house, and she fell in love with my younger dog, Archie, who is really affectionate. They would bounce on the couch together and play. It was so cute.”

Fospice Dog On Borrowed Time

Bea slowly began to regain her strength and her appetite. Suddenly, she wanted treats, lots of treats! Knowing that Bea was terminally ill and on borrowed time, Anjela let her have as many goodies as her precious heart desired. She also ensured Bea had access to the coziest of dog beds and blankets. But Bea’s favorite spot to sleep was in Angela’s bed.

“She was very mucousy, and I didn’t want her slobber on my nice comforter, but she insisted on being under the covers right next to me.” So Angela let her stay, and they cuddled together all night long.

During the day, Bea would follow Anjela wherever she went, including the bathroom. There, she’d park herself on the bathmat to watch Anjela get ready for the day. “My favorite memory of Bea is of her waiting at the door with my other dogs for me to get home. When she saw me coming, she’d tap her feet, spin around and then kiss me on the face. It was wonderful seeing her so happy and having such a wonderful time despite her illness.”

Saying Good-Bye

After a little over a month together, Anjela discovered a new tumor attached to Bea’s abdominal wall, and within one week, it had tripled in size. At this time, Bea’s cognitive abilities began to decline. With her quality of life quickly deteriorating, Anjela knew it was time to say goodbye. On Bea’s last day of life, Anjela spoiled her with her favorite canned dog food and her very own sushi donut. “She LOVED it and was so excited to have the whole thing to herself.”  

When it was time for Bea to be euthanized, Angela held her in her arms as an HSU staff member administered the medication. Our humane euthanasia is a rapid and painless procedure, so Bea passed away peacefully and within less than 20 seconds. “It was hard to see her go, of course, but I absolutely did not want her to suffer anymore just because I enjoyed having her around. As her caretaker, it was my responsibility to help her avoid any pain or fear, and helping her to peacefully transition was an important way for me to show love for her.”

Fostering Compassion

At HSU, we’re always looking for fosters who can provide less traditional care for animals in need, like Bea. Terminally ill pets typically require more maintenance than we can provide at the shelter, and since their quality of life can improve while in a home, fospice care is really important for these dying pets. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find people to support them. The main reason for this is the belief that the time commitment will be too much. However, these animals are so sick that they mostly require medication, cuddles, and sleep. In fact, terminally ill animals are often easier to care for than our younger foster pets. To make the process easier on individuals willing to foster, HSU provides for their medication, food, treats, toys, blankets, and vet care. 

Angela shared, “We hope more individuals and families will consider opening up their hearts and homes to these pets so they can live out their last days knowing how loved they are. Bea is a perfect example of this. She was so happy and full of life during her last month with me, and she had a warm, safe place to call home. Her last days were not scary or confusing for her, and this is what makes the experience worthwhile.”

What’s in a name? Pet Resource Center

Pet resource center in murray
Front entrance view to the Pet Resource Center at the Humane Society of Utah.

You may have (or may not) have noticed that we no longer refer to ourselves as an “animal shelter” in our recent communications and are now calling ourselves a “Pet Resource Center.” In this three-part blog series, we’ll explain why.

In the last few years, the “Pet Resource Center” model has become widely adopted by animal welfare leaders across the country to improve upon the traditional animal sheltering approach. The term resource center comes from human welfare services and describes the way they provide a safety net beyond sheltering to those experiencing homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless. This radical new shift allows for organizations like ours to focus additional efforts on supporting pet guardians in various ways, so we can, in turn, help the companion animals in our communities. 

By adopting this model at the Humane Society of Utah, we can increase our capacity to care and support struggling pet guardians to help “keep pets and people together,” as our mission states. For example, we understand that the previous two years have been challenging for many. Our community members have been affected by housing insecurities, cost of living increases, supply chain, and veterinary shortages. These challenges have made owning a beloved companion animal more difficult. In response, we’ve worked hard to support guardians affected by the pandemic through the various programs we offer at our Pet Resource Center:

Community Clinic

By providing affordable spay/neuter and vaccines services through our two Preventative Care Clinics located in St. George and Murray, our organization was able to help over 144,000 community-owned pets stay healthy in 2021. Our clinics stayed open year-round to provide 12,643 spay/neuter surgeries to help prevent the pet overpopulation problem and administered 143,904 vaccines to help stop the spread of deadly viruses.

Pet Retention Program

Our Pet Retention program aims to keep pets and owners together, when possible, by providing resources to help owners who are experiencing difficulty but wish to keep their companion animals. By supporting our community members this way, we’re also helping keep pets out of the sheltering system. In 2021, our Pet Retention program served 487 medical cases for community-owned pets. In addition, we sponsored the first free vaccination and microchip clinic in Tooele County, providing 171 cats and dogs with free preventative care.

Community Partnerships

Our Pet Resource Center also connects community members with resources to help them keep their beloved pets through partnerships with organizations like Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering. We are currently working with organizations such as The Road Home and the YWCA to provide resources, such as vaccines and general pet care supplies. Developing partnerships is one of the key ways we ensure both people and their pets get what they need and stay together.

Join us for the second part of this blog series next month as we discuss the importance of education. And the educational resources our Pet Resource Center provides through our Behavior and Humane Education departments.

Utah’s 2022 Legislative Session Recap: Companion Animal Bills

HB 476 Protest rally at Utah State Capitol
HB 476 protest rally at Utah State Capitol.

Utah’s 2022 legislative session ended on March 5, 2022 and what a busy session it was! Our advocacy team spent every day of the session at the capitol, educating our legislators on the importance of protecting animals and making sure our furry friends’ voices were heard. 

We had a very big win this year, securing protections for pets, and additional protections for humans, in domestic violence situations. We had a second big win in defeating a bill that would have opened the floodgates to puppy mills in Utah. 

While we had a couple of (big!) wins, other animal bills did not fare quite as well. Read on for a breakdown of companion animal-related bills and their outcomes from the 2022 session.

Our Bills

H.B. 175 – Protection of Animals Amendments PASSED!

Run in partnership with our friends at Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, H.B. 175 was sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero (District 26) and sponsored on the floor by Sen. David Hinkins (District 27). 

After passing both houses of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, this bill was signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox in late March of 2022. 

HSU and Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering staff stand with Representative Angela Romero
HSU and Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering staff stand with Representative Angela Romero in the Utah State Capitol building.

The new law allows courts to include household animals in protection-from-abuse orders (including domestic violence, dating violence, cohabitant abuse, and child abuse protective orders) and expands the “emotional distress” resulting from harm to an animal in domestic violence cases to also include cases of stalking.

H.B. 92 – Transportation of Dogs ActFailed

Sponsored by Rep. Ashlee Matthews (District 37), this bill would have required dogs transported on Utah’s freeways in open back trucks (including flatbeds) to be cross-tethered or in a secured crate. 

Despite the commonsense nature of this bill, it received strong opposition from two members of the House of Representatives at its committee hearing. One member made a point to state that there was nothing wrong with the bill itself and that we had considered the interests of all stakeholders, but that he would never vote for such a bill. 

With the failure of this bill, we head into another summer of dogs clinging to hold on in the back of trucks on the freeway, burning paws on the hot metal, and breathing in significant amounts of debris while distracted drivers look on in horror. 

A scared dog rides on the back of a flatbed truck traveling at high speeds on a busy Utah Highway.

If you want to see dogs protected during transport on our freeways, call your representative and senator to demand it.

Bills We Strongly Opposed

H.B. 476 – Local Agriculture AmendmentsFAILED!

Backed by pro-puppy mill lobbyists, H.B. 476 would have erased local regulations of animal-related businesses and prevented future protections for animals on the local level. In simple terms: this bill, if passed, would have opened Utah to completely unregulated puppy mills and the stores that sell animals from puppy and kitten mills. 

HSU and other animal advocates rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol building to protest H.B. 476.

However, we, along with half a dozen other animal welfare organizations and thousands of amazing supporters like you, defeated this bill! Your calls and emails to your representatives and senators helped our legislature realize that this was a bad bill with horrible consequences for the beloved animals of Utah. This bill thankfully died before a vote in the senate. Unfortunately, the same concept will undoubtedly be re-introduced in the next session. We will be there to fight it every step of the way.

Other Companion Animal Legislation

Several other bills were filed with the legislature this year to bring additional protections to companion animals in our state. Some made it all the way to the end of the session but were not voted on before the clock struck midnight on the night of March 5. Others never made it out of committee. Here is a quick rundown of those bills:

SB69 – Animal Shelter RevisionsFailed

This bill would have eliminated gas chamber euthanasia in Utah shelters. 

SB165 – Animal Cruelty Modifications Failed

This bill would have expanded Utah’s animal cruelty code to better define proper care for an animal, including a more substantial definition of what constitutes “shelter.”

HB112 – Animal Fighting PenaltiesFailed

This bill would have expanded the definition of “animal” in Utah’s anti-dog fighting statute to include all animals. 

HB306 – Cosmetic Sale AmendmentsFailed

This bill would have banned the sale in Utah of cosmetics tested on animals. 

While perhaps not the strongest year for companion animal protection, the number of animal protection bills introduced in the 2022 legislative session did prove one thing: Utahns care about companion animals and want to see them treated well. And we agree! We will keep fighting on the local, state, and federal level to secure protections for pets and the human-animal bond. We hope you will join us.  
Watch our social media accounts and sign up for advocacy alerts to stay informed and get active!