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Sugar House Journal

Best Friends Animal Society making makes strides in No-Kill Utah Initiative

May 08, 2017 10h40 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Best Friends Animal Society has a shelter located in Sugar House at 1100 E. and 2005 South where people can come meet the cats and dogs up for adoption. (Natalie Mollinet/City Journals).

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected] 

On March 24, Best Friends Animal Society celebrated its third year of the statewide No-Kill Utah (NKUT) initiative. The NKUT is an initiative of Best Friends Animal Society and coalition of 57 other Utah-based animal welfare organization. Their goal is to make Utah a no-kill state by 2019, and in 2016, saw a lot of progress of making that goal a reality.

Currently in the United States, New Hampshire is the only no-kill state, meaning that they no longer kill cats and dogs in shelters, and that is a goal that Best Friends Animal Society hopes to reach in Utah.

“The goal of NKUT is to ensure that every healthy, treatable animal that enters a shelter in Utah is saved, and we are so close to accomplishing that,” said Arlyn Bradshaw, Best Friends-Utah executive director.

At the end of 2016, the save rate for shelters in the state went up to 85.8 percent, a slight increase  from 84.4 percent in 2015. In Utah, the shelter system killed around 8,000 dogs and cats. According to Best Friends, around 2,400 of those cats and dogs in Utah simply died because they couldn’t find homes. In 2016, the save rate for dogs has remained steady but for cats, the rate dropped lower.

“In 2016, we again saw a record high save rate with nearly 86 percent of shelter animals either being returned home, adopted or transferred to a rescue organization,” Bradshaw said. “While that achievement is something to celebrate, we still estimate nearly 2,400 more animals could have been saved.”

Even with these numbers, Utah is making its progression towards a no-kill state. According to NKUT, as of March 2017, 32 Utah shelters have reached no-kill status by achieving a save rate of 90 percent or better. Best Friends says the way that this number can keep progressing is if people adopt animals from shelters or rescues and add a furry friend to their families.

“We are asking all Utahns to help us close the gap by adopting from a shelter or rescue,” Bradshaw said, “ensuring all of their pets are spayed or neutered, and by contributing to the NKUT Coalition member of their choice.”

Best Friends says their biggest hurdle in getting Utah to be a no-kill state is the challenge of saving the lives of cats. Cats represent more than 6,300 of the deaths in shelter systems while the save rate for dogs in Utah has been maintained at the verge of no-kill status for more than two years.

“The best thing people can do is to adopt their next cat or kitten from a shelter or rescue group,” said Temma Martin, public relations specialist with Best Friends Animal Society. “These animals are already spayed or neutered, vaccinated and often microchipped. It’s a good deal, and new owners are getting off on the right foot to pet parenthood.”

The shelter in Sugar House does allow people to walk in and meet the animals, including dogs and cats.

Another way Best Friends says that people can help is by helping the free roaming cats in the community. One of the biggest reasons why cats have such a high rate of being put down is their population.

“We offer support for Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) so that feral cats can’t continue to have kittens,” Martin said. “Volunteers can help with TNR, and we also seek volunteers to help bottle feed kittens in our kitten nursery. Saving cats and kittens is the key to making Utah no kill.”

Best Friends loves being a part of the Sugar House community and loves having neighbors come into their Pet Adoption Center at 1100 E. 2005 South. Volunteers can sign up on

“We'd love for our neighbors in Sugar House to stop by our Pet Adoption Center to adopt, to volunteer, or just to visit,” Martin said. “Our animals love the attention, and who knows, visitors might just find the perfect pet and fall in love.”