No More Homeless Pets: Three Easy Ways to Adopt a Furry Companion
Each quarter Hugger Mugger Yoga Products chooses a non-profit organization to support with a percentage of our sales. Through June, we are supporting No More Homeless Pets of Utah, an organization that aims to end euthanasia of healthy animals in shelters.
It’s kitten and puppy season. Right now. Every spring, animal shelters take in bundles of furry babies—feline and canine, all perfectly healthy and adoptable. The lucky ones will catch someone’s eye and move to a forever home. Many others will be euthanized as shelters scramble for space.
Way back in the 1970s, the founders of Best Friends Animal Society recognized the conundrum of compassionate animal lovers working in shelters being called upon to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. They rescued as many animals as they could from the shelter, cared for them and found good homes for most of them. The unadopted ones became the first residents of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill shelter in the U.S, set in Southern Utah’s stunning desert landscape.
No More Homeless Pets in Utah (NMHPU) grew out of Best Friends’ no-kill philosophy. Founded in 2000, the organization began as Best Friends’ Northern Utah arm. NMHPU is a community-based organization whose aim is to make Utah a no-kill state. “We want to reconnect shelter animals with their owners and find homes for the others,” says fundraiser and event coordinator Danielle Slaughter. “We share Best Friends’ vision of creating a country and world of no more homeless pets.” Best Friends supports similar organizations in Los Angeles and New York City.
Since their founding, NMHPU has facilitated a 35% decrease in shelter euthanasia and a 38% increase in adoptions. Since their beginnings, they have sponsored an adoption program. “We’ve always had a rescue program,” says outreach and adoption manager Melissa Lipani. “We take animals into our program and make a lifetime commitment to them.” Through adoption weekends, NMHPU has adopted out an average of 500-600 animals each year.
Mobile Adoptions and Cat Crusaders
Melissa says exciting new things are happening this year. “We reallocated one of our staff members to work with Salt Lake County Animal Services directly,” she says. Last year Dogmode provided NMHPU with a shuttle bus that can house 10 cats and 10 dogs. “We converted it into a vehicle that we could use to bring the animals into unexpected venues. We bring them to festivals and farmer’s markets, and we’re partnering with businesses in heavy traffic areas. It works really well. There was a mini-super adoption last weekend in Logan [Utah]. It hailed and snowed and people could come in to see the animals and it was warm and quiet. The bus also has removable kennels so the animals can be outside when the weather is nice.”
Also new this year is a program called “Cat Crusaders” or “Cat Crew” for short. Despite the ground NMHPU has gained in the past 10 years, the number of cats redeemed from shelters is still at a dismal four to five percent. The Cat Crusaders aim to increase these numbers radically, and already this year, things are looking up. Cat Crew volunteers, led by NMHPU staff person Amber Randall, are focusing on cat adoptions in innovative ways. At the Salt Lake County and South Salt Lake shelters, Adoption Ambassadors are available during business hours to help visitors and answer their questions. In addition, the Cat Crew has decorated the cat rooms. “Almost every time a visitor comes in and spends time with our ambassadors, a cat gets adopted,” says Melissa.
The Cat Crusaders have initiated a bottle baby foster program. Especially in the spring and summer, shelters are inundated with mother cats and litters of kittens. The team of volunteers has saved lots of lives, says Melissa, by fostering and bottle-feeding litters.
NMHPU’s latest adoption project is a mini-adoption center in Salt Lake City’s historic Trolley Square. “The center will be run by two staff people, one from our team and one from the county shelter,” says Melissa. “The county is providing the microchips, and spaying and neutering prior to going into the center. We provide the space, marketing and staff person. It’s a true partnership. The staff people will pick up animals from the shelter and bring them into the center. A lot of people emotionally don’t want to experience the shelter. This is a different way to show animals.” The center will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Their grand opening is May 17th.
Partnering with shelters is new for NMHPU, a move that is helping to save lives directly. “It’s always good to try new things,” says Melissa. “If we’re always doing the same thing, we’re not going to improve. Maybe our new programs will work, maybe they won’t. But we won’t know until we try.”
NMHPU is hosting a Super Adoption next weekend, May 4-6 at PetSmart, 389 West 1830 South in Salt Lake City. Four hundred cats and four hundred dogs, from 18 rescue groups and shelters from all over the state, would love to see you there!
NMHPU also sponsors a low- and no-cost spay and neuter program, along with a feral fix program. Watch for stories about these in the coming weeks.