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Humane Society of Utah reports huge uptick in abandoned cats

Posted at 2:45 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 00:22:49-05

MURRAY, Utah — The Humane Society of Utah reported for the second time in two weeks, that large groups of cats have been abandoned in boxes at their facility, leaving the animals in potential danger.

"We want the community to know it never has to get to this point," says Director of Shelter Operations Juli Ulvestad. "If you are a pet owner and need assistance, please reach out to us so we can be a part of the solution."

On Nov. 1 and Nov. 9, staff members discovered boxes of cats and kittens outside of the administrative office of the Humane Society of Utah. Attached was a note describing the desperate situation the guardian was in leading to abandoning the animals.

The humane society said, because these cats were left in front of doors located near their public spay/neuter and vaccine clinic, they were subjected to dogs walking past, cold weather, and confinement in a small carrier until Humane Society employees discovered them.

The humane society said, animal abandonment appears to be on the rise locally as animal shelters, rescues and even private businesses have reported dogs, cats, rabbits, and small animals being left at their doorsteps in recent months.

The Humane Society of Utah asks people surrendering animals to the shelter to schedule an appointment with their admissions department. "We may be able to offer alternatives to surrendering your pet to the shelter," says Juli Ulvestad, Director of Shelter Operations. "Our pet retention program may be able to provide services to help you keep your pet."

The Humane Society of Utah also offers a private pet rehoming website that allows owners to list their pet and rehome the animal themselves—keeping the animals in their home and out of the stressful shelter environment until they find a new home.

The Humane Society of Utah accepts owner-surrendered pets by appointment to ensure there is kennel space and staff to care for them. Utah Humane is unable to accept free-roaming stray animals but can help direct you to the appropriate animal services jurisdiction.

The Humane Society of Utah does not have a full-service vet clinic. They said if an animal needs immediate medical help, people should take them to an emergency vet clinic.

Under Utah code, animal abandonment is a crime that is punishable by fines or, in rare instances, even jail time, according to Rachel Heatley, Advocacy and Investigations Director for the Humane Society of Utah. "Animal abandonment is a crime," Heatley said, adding, "But our goal here is to help as many animals as possible, not criminalize a guardian for trying to do the right thing."