SALT LAKE CITY — Most animals that come through the shelter system in Utah are healthy and adoptable. Still, Best Friends Animal Society said thousands are dying every year—3,500 were killed in shelters in 2018.
“Right now, the biggest concern is Utah County,” said Lydia LaSalle, the Executive Director for Utah’s Best Friends Animal Society. “There’s about 1,300 animals that are dying in that county, and Best Friends is here and dedicated to saving animals in that county.”
LaSalle said they’ve seen a huge problem with feral cats.
In efforts to save these strays, Best Friends has a program called “Return-to-Field,” where the stray cats are brought to the shelter clinic, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped before officers release the cats back to where they were found.
“It is the national norm and it is the best way to save as many cats as you can in a shelter setting,” LaSalle said.
Best Friends acknowledged there are cases where animals just can’t be saved — but only about 10%. These are due to severe medical issues or safety concerns with human interaction.
As of today, Best Friends reports 85% of shelters in Utah are “no-kill,” and the group has a goal to increase the save rate to 100%.
“We want every community and shelter,” said LaSalle. “We hope we can, with the help of our coalition and our community, get to no-kill by 2020.”
Best Friends said the best ways for the community to help are to adopt from local shelters, spay or neuter your pets, microchip your animals or become a community advocate.