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Shelter Faces Unprecedented 78% Surge in Abandoned Pets


News Release

Animal Shelter Faces Unprecedented 78% Surge in Abandoned Pets in 2023, Calls for Community Action and Support

Murray, Utah, Jan. 18, 2024 — The Humane Society of Utah (HSU) reported a staggering 78% increase in abandoned animals in 2023. This trend echoes similar patterns observed in other shelters across the state, including Weber County Animal Services.

Lisa Weiss, Animal Care/Community Outreach Coordinator at Weber County Animal Services, noted a significant rise in dogs abandoned in unincorporated areas, particularly near the bird refuge. “Animal Control has encountered numerous dogs tied to poles in public places with notes pleading for a home,” Weiss said. “Recently, we found four 10-week-old puppies left in a wire crate at our doorstep in freezing temperatures without any blankets or coats.” The Humane Society of Utah took the four puppies pictured here into their care from Weber County Animal Services last week. All four puppies have since been adopted.

Housing issues have been HSU’s leading cause of animal surrenders in 2023. “We want to remind Utah residents that abandoning animals is illegal,” stated Guinnevere Shuster, Director of Marketing at the Humane Society of Utah. “However, we recognize the tough times people are facing and aim to provide alternatives for people considering abandoning their pets.”

HSU urges pet owners to explore various rehoming options. Facebook hosts local groups such as Utah Animal Rescue & Rehoming and Utah Pets for Rehoming or Rescue. People can post information and photos about their pets to potential adopters in these groups. Additionally, HSU manages a free private pet rehoming service website, which garners hundreds of daily views. Weber County Animal Services also provides many free resources for people looking to rehome their pets.

For those facing temporary crises, Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering offers short-term pet fostering for 60-90 days, allowing owners to reunite with their pets post-crisis. HSU also assists pet owners threatened with eviction due to their pets. HSU can provide letters to landlords indicating a scheduled surrender date, hoping to allow pets to remain with their owners until then.

Individuals who need assistance with pet food or supplies can access free supplies from these organizations: Salt Lake County Animal Services Pet Crew Pet Pantry, Ruff Haven Pet Pantry, or Street Dawg Crew of Utah.

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About the Humane Society of Utah

The Humane Society of Utah is dedicated to the elimination of pain, fear, and suffering in all animals. Since 1960, the Humane Society of Utah has been sheltering homeless animals, fighting cruelty and neglect, and creating an atmosphere of respect, responsibility, and compassion for all animals. As the state’s largest private animal resource center, the Humane Society of Utah welcomes any companion animal that can legally be admitted. We work hard to ensure that every healthy and treatable pet that enters the facility will be placed into a loving home. The Humane Society of Utah is a local, independent 501(c)(3) private nonprofit organization that does not receive any state or government funding and is not a branch of any national organization. It is funded by the contributions of individuals, businesses, and foundations. Read more online at

4242 South 300 West Murray, UT 84107 / 801-261-2919 / / @utahhumane

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