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Utahns work toward ending euthanization of healthy shelter pets by 2025

Posted at 8:48 AM, Mar 28, 2023

KANAB, Utah — A small army of employees and volunteers is working toward a goal of ending the practice of euthanizing healthy shelter pets in the United States.

Best Friends Animal Society is working to get every shelter in the country to “no-kill” status by 2025.

“No-kill” is defined as 90% of animals entering a shelter being saved and adopted.

Best Friends Animal Society is led by Bountiful native Julie Castle.

“I was totally blown away by the grandeur of the place, by the vision of the founders, the no-kill philosophy,” she said. “I was employee number 17. Back then, we didn’t have job descriptions.”

From one of the organization’s first employees to its CEO – Castle is strengthening the no-kill mission.

Based at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, she is leading the organization that gives hope to animals often abandoned, mistreated, or forgotten by humans.

The expansive property is home to 1600 animals – including dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, birds, pigs, horses, and goats.

It is the epicenter of the no-kill movement.

“When I started here at Best Friends, 17,000,000 animals were dying, every year in America’s shelters,” Castle said. “Back then, Best Friends was literally one of the only groups that was waving the flag that we can solve this”

According to the Best Friends animal shelter statistics dashboard, 355,000 dogs and cats were killed in shelters across the country in 2021 – a vast improvement compared to when Castle started here work in animal rescue at the organization 27 years ago.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to really be leading this organization and leading this movement and realizing this incredible, humbling experience to end a societal ill that’s been going on in our country for 150 years,” Castle said.

She credits raising awareness about the number of animals killed in shelters, promoting spaying or neutering pets, and owners who choose adopting over shopping for animals as major contributors to getting more than half of the country’s shelters to the no-kill threshold.

“We are the wealthiest country in the world. We do not need to be killing animals in our shelter system. We can figure this out. We know what to do. We have the tools. We have the resources. It is within our reach,” she said.