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!

Animal Cruelty Training

Active law enforcement, animal control, and prosecutors are invited to attend the 2022 Animal Cruelty Training.
Learn how to develop a solid case when investigating animal cruelty and neglect that will improve the likelihood of a successful prosecution.

Discussion Will Include:

  • Effective report writing
  • The importance of meticulous evidence collection
  • Chain-of-custody considerations
  • Dealing with the media
  • Working with your local prosecutor
  • Giving compelling testimony
  • And more!

With Guest Speaker, Jacob Kamins – State of Oregon Animal Cruelty DDA

Jacob Kamins

Since 2013, Jake Kamins has served as Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney (AC-DDA) in the State of Oregon, where he represents the State in criminal animal cruelty cases. To date, Jake has been sworn as a Deputy District Attorney in 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties, prosecuting over 250 individual cases of animal abuse and neglect.
As AC-DDA, Jake trains and consults with law enforcement, veterinarians, animal rescue workers, and attorneys on animal cruelty issues. He also communicates regularly with the media as a subject matter expert and has been involved in legislative drafting and testimony.
Jake worked as a Deputy DA at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office from 2009-2013. He received his B.A. in 2004 from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and his J.D. in 2009 from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. At Lewis & Clark, Jake was an Associate Editor of the Lewis & Clark Law Review and clerked at the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office. While at Multnomah County, Jake developed a passion for working on animal cruelty cases. In 2012, he was named one of the nation’s Top 10 Animal Defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Jake lives in Portland with his wife, his two children, and Sophie and Scarf, the family cats.

Date/Time
Date – May 20, 2022
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location
Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites
818 E. Winchester
Murray, UT 84107

If you have any questions, please Contact Us, and select “Animal Welfare / Advocacy”.

Light refreshments and snacks will be available throughout the day. Attendees are responsible for their own lunch.

If a hotel room is needed, we have negotiated a rate of $100/night, please use code: HU522.

The event will be capped at 50, spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Housing Resources

Woman sits on fronch porch smiling while petting a long haired golden colored dog who is laying on his side with his tongue out.

Some apartments do not allow cats or dogs. View this Apartment Guide to see places that allow pets before signing a rental agreement. 

The inclusion of a service, organization, or program in this listing is NOT an endorsement or recommendation. We are not able to guarantee the quality of these services and recommend that you gain additional information before using a specific service.

Service Animal Etiquette: Can I Pet that Dog?

service dog

Picture this: you’re walking down the street in the local shopping district and you see a dog in a vest labeled “service dog” in bold lettering. You love animals and you’re excited to say hello to any that you meet, but can you greet this pup? 

So what should you do when you encounter a service animal? We’ve compiled this list of tips and tricks to help guide you!

According to the ADA, service animals are animals that have been trained to perform specific tasks related to the disability (or disabilities) of their handler. (For more information on what service animals are and what they do, check out this blog post we published last year.) These animals are considered to be a form of medical equipment, and distracting them from their tasks can be dangerous for their handlers.

service dog
  1. Do not distract (pet or otherwise engage with) a service animal

As a general rule, it is not a good idea to pet animals you are not familiar with without asking an owner’s permission, but this is doubly important when it comes to service animals. If a service animal becomes distracted, they may be unable to perform the tasks they have been trained to do for their handler’s health, which could lead to a medical emergency.

Talking directly to a service animal, especially in high-pitched tones, can also be a distraction for the animal. Because of this, it is good practice to avoid addressing service dogs directly or making a fuss that would garner the dog’s attention.

  1. Do respect a service animal’s space

Under the ADA, service animals are permitted in areas that pets are not, including grocery stores, restaurants, and office buildings. For the most part, a service animal is allowed to go anywhere their handler goes so they can perform health-related tasks.. 

If you see a service dog in an area that you are not used to seeing animals, know that they are doing their job and that they are permitted to be where they are.

  1. Do follow an unattended service animal

If you find yourself in the presence of an unattended service animal, do not try to capture or restrain them. Some disabilities cause handlers to pass out, seize, or become otherwise unresponsive, and it is common for these handlers to train their dogs to go get help should they have an episode.

If a dog approaches you in a service vest with no handler present, they are likely trying to get your attention to get help for their handler. First, follow the dog back to the site of the incident so you know where to find the handler in distress. From there, call 911 or locate an individual who is trained to help in medical emergencies, such as a paramedic

So, next time you see one of these vest-clad furry friends, admire them from a distance. They are truly heroes in fluffy disguises, and they are working hard!

State-Level Advocacy

The 2022 Legislative Session

This year, Utah’s legislative session officially starts on Tuesday, January 18. With just 45 short days in the session, it is sure to be a whirlwind! The Humane Society of Utah’s advocacy team will be posted at the Utah State Capitol every day of the session, ready to educate legislators on the companion animal welfare issues facing our state. 

There are quite a few bills up for consideration this year that will impact pets and their people. Read on to see the bills we have brought forth and the bills we are supporting this session. We will keep an updated list of the bills we are supporting, and their progress, on our website throughout the session. 

State-Level Advocacy - Utah State Capitol on Animal Welfare Day

Our Bills

  1. Protection of Animals Amendments (HB 175) – Sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, House District 26. We have partnered with Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering for this important bill. This bill will allow survivors of domestic violence to include their pets in personal protective orders. Abusers often use violence or threats of violence against a victim’s pet as a psychological tool to manipulate and further control the victim. The fear of an abuser causing harm to a beloved animal often delays victims from leaving an abusive household or stops them from fleeing entirely. In fact, nearly 50% of domestic violence victims have delayed leaving their abuser out of fear of harm to their pets. The intent of this legislation is to ensure that survivors can protect themselves and their pets sooner. 
  2. Transportation of Dogs Act (HB 92) – Sponsored by Rep. Ashlee Matthews, House District 38. This bill protects public safety and animal welfare by specifying the methods by which a dog can be transported on a truck bed. Dogs riding unrestrained in a truck bed are at risk of being ejected from the vehicle in the event of an accident, are exposed to unforgiving Utah weather conditions, and risk being struck by flying debris. Unrestrained companion animals also pose a risk to public safety and contribute to distracted driving. The intent of this legislation is to ensure that dogs are properly and safely restrained on highways to prevent them from becoming projectiles, causing injury or death to themselves or others on the roadway. 

Bills We Support

  1. Animal Shelter Amendments (SB 69) – Sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, Senate District 27. This bill will mandate euthanasia-by-injection in animal shelters throughout Utah for non-emergency euthanasia. Utah is one of very few states that still allow euthanasia by gas chamber. While there are a lot of hurdles for companion animal welfare in our state, inhumane euthanasia should not be one of them. The intent of this bill is to ban gas chamber euthanasia, which we at the Humane Society of Utah fully support!  
  2. Animal Fighting Penalties (HB 112) – Sponsored by Rep. Marsha Judkins, District 61. This bill will expand the animal fighting laws in Utah to apply to all animals, not just dogs, and roosters. While dogfighting and cockfighting are the most commonly known forms of animal fighting, many different species of animals, when pitted against one another by bad actors, can and do fight. The intent of this legislation is to ensure animals of any species are not forced to fight, and if they are, the greedy humans involved are met with legal consequences. 

Here’s hoping for a successful legislative session, where animal welfare wins and changes in our laws make it a little easier to Change Their World.

Want to be kept up-to-date with our advocacy efforts, including action alerts on the bills listed above? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for weekly updates.

Understanding urinary tract issues in cats

header image of a ginger cat

Cats can experience urinary tract issues which can lead to house soiling. This is the top reason older cats are surrendered to the Humane Society of Utah. In addition, cats that develop urinary tract infections can sometimes suffer from endocrine diseases, including hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus. 

Often the former guardians are unaware of the urinary tract issues, and it isn’t until they are in our care that they find out. Luckily, some families are willing to reunite with their beloved feline friends once they are informed and a treatment plan has been implemented. 


The most common symptoms of urinary tract infection in cats include: 

  • urinating small amounts more frequently
  • straining to urinate
  • pain or discomfort when urinating
  • not urinating at all
  • urinating around the house (outside the litter box)
  • passing urine tinged with blood (pinkish color urine) 
  • sudden-onset fear of the litter box
  • lethargy
  • vomiting 

If your feline friend is exhibiting any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.


Here are our tips for maintaining your cat’s urinary health

cat drinking out of a fountain

Increasing your cat’s water intake is one of the most important steps toward keeping their urinary tract healthy. Keeping your cat well-hydrated means they will urinate more frequently which will flush out toxins and maintain healthy kidney function. In addition, a higher urine water content dilutes the toxins, minerals, and urinary irritants that can lead to problems like crystals and urinary stones.

Our first tip is always to provide fresh water. Cats often prefer fresh or running water, which is why you often see them trying to drink straight from the faucet. Many cat bowls today come with a fountain option. 

Second, incorporate wet food into your cat’s diet. Wet food holds more moisture than dry and easily adds water to a cat’s intake.  

Third, if your cat has had previous urinary health problems, they will likely benefit from a urinary diet. These formulas contain specific amounts of minerals, protein, and bladder protectants to help maintain a healthy urinary tract. Urinary diets have restricted amounts of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium which can contribute to urinary crystals and stone formation. 

Talk with your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from a urinary diet. These prescription bags of food often cost about the same as most high-end cat food brands.

Fourth, avoid stressful environments for your feline friend. Cats are sensitive to environmental stressors, which have been linked to inappropriate elimination and feline UTIs. Eliminating simple stressors and providing an escape when your cat is fearful or anxious can keep her urinary tract healthy. 

Cat in a litter box

Lastly, keep your cat’s litter box clean daily and avoid harsh-smelling litters that are heavily scented. These types of cat litter may smell better to us but are often offensive to our feline friends.  

‘Tis the Season to Keep Your Pets

cute white puppy with black spots on a red blanket with a red sequin bowtie

The holiday season is a joyous time when everyone decorates, cooks, and comes together to celebrate with loved ones, including their furry family members. With the holiday hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget about the potential dangers of holiday festivities for pets. The Humane Society of Utah offers these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe this holiday season.

Grey and white kitten in red tin can that has Happy Holiday text on front

Holiday safety tips for pets:

  1. The following foods can cause anything from vomiting and diarrhea to liver failure. Ask guests not to share food with your pets during holiday parties. Your family and friends may mean well, but this is an excellent opportunity to share healthy pet tips like these.
    • Cooked bird bones, skin, turkey fat, ham, and gravy.
    • Stuffing and other dishes with onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins.
    • Desserts. Especially those containing chocolate or xylitol.
  1. Avoid these winter plants, which are poisonous to cats and dogs: Poinsettias, Holly and Mistletoe, Lilies and Daffodils, and Amaryllis.
  2. Christmas trees may pose a danger to pets if they knock them over or ingest tinsel or ornaments, which may resemble their regular toys in shapes and colors. We suggest placing baby gates in doorways to keep pets away from the tree if they are overly interested in your tree.
  3. Keep all food and trash out of reach. This can be one of the hardest things to remember on a busy holiday. Those table scraps may be too tempting to your pet. If you do not have a locking lid on your trash can, try placing it in the pantry or taking your trash out before enjoying dinner.
  4. If you add a new kitten or puppy to your family, keep them safe by getting them vaccinated.
  5. Keep fresh water available to drink. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed, so they may require more water on a busy holiday.
  6. Provide access to a quiet place to retreat from the crowds. This gives your pets the option to venture out to visit if they feel like it and will help them be more at ease if they need space.
  7. Provide them with some pet-friendly fun!
    • Give them a treat dispenser, such as a treat stuffed Kong for dogs or a long-lasting chew.
    • Surprise them with a new toy! 
    • Consider playing some tunes or leaving TV or cat-friendly Youtube videos in a separate room for them.

What Breed of Dog is That?

two pictures of the same brindle mixed breed one year apart.

“What breed of dog is that?” This is one of the most common questions we hear at the Humane Society of Utah. What breed would you guess for this Utah Humane Society alum, Rosco? Rosco came to our shelter two years ago with his littermates. His family recently sent her DNA results to us, which we have shared below. 

Even the most experienced dog lovers don’t know a dog’s mixed-lineage or exact breed without a DNA test. One study found that 90 percent of a dog’s breed that was guessed by shelter staff didn’t match the predominant breed identified through DNA analysis. Another study revealed that experts seldom agree on their breed guesses, so one person’s Mastiff mix is another’s Boxer mix or Lab-hound mix.

As a result, you’ll now find most “mixed-breed” dogs on our website are labeled as small, medium, or large mixed-breed. Since most dogs who come to our shelter don’t have pedigree papers, most people may try to label them by the breeds they most closely resemble, leading adopters to make assumptions about their personalities and future behavior based on these breed guesses.

The truth is, there is a wide range of behavior, even in purebred dogs. For example, a purebred field Golden Retriever will behave differently than a purebred show or pet Golden Retriever. Now, mix three or four breeds into one dog and it’s anybody’s guess as to which personality and behavior traits will shine through. Each dog has a genetic predisposition and unique learning history that shapes its personality. This is why we encourage people to meet each dog they are interested in adopting in person instead of making assumptions based on a breed label. Treat the dog in front of you as an individual, and get to know each dog’s unique personality to see if he or she is the right fit for you!

The Guide to Understanding Your New Puppy

Tan puppy with black muzzle and ears laying on white backdrop with head on tan and yellow pillow.

You brought home a new puppy, now what?

Were you one of many people who recently added a new puppy to your household? Owning a puppy goes beyond basic training, and understanding what to expect in the first year can make living with your best friend much more enjoyable. We created a puppy timeline to help you understand how a puppy develops and reminds you of important milestones. We also offer virtual puppy classes. You can sign up for classes here. There is also a free printable PDF of the Puppy Timeline on that page too. 

puppy development timeline guide infographic
Puppy Development Timeline guide