Many years ago, I went looking for one of my outdoor, community cats who had disappeared. I checked out both the county’s facility and the Humane Society of Utah (HSU). Both places were housing large numbers of adoptable cats in the standard square kennels, stacked one upon the other. (I did find my feral cat, in a back room reserved for “special needs” kitties.)
My recent visit to the Humane Society of Utah revealed vastly different digs for the resident cats. A few years ago, funded by cat lovers’ donations, the Humane Society built Kitty City, a paradise for cats that’s the next best thing to a forever home. Most cats live in “condos”—double-wide kennels that often house more than one resident. But they don’t just languish there. They also get to visit big playrooms with elaborate climbing structures, comfy beds, lots of toys and plenty of feline and human companionship.
Lesley Pulsipher, HSU’s development assistant, took me on a tour of Kitty City, greeting many of the residents by name and telling some of their stories. She says her love of animals is what brought her to HSU a year ago. “I’d say that’s what’s inspired everyone who works here,” she says. “We all love animals and want to see as many as possible living in happy homes.”
HSU also houses adoptable dogs in recently expanded kennels. There are separate areas for small, medium and large dogs. Small dogs live in pens with a few roommates, while the larger dogs have two-room kennels of their own. Volunteers, caregivers or visitors can walk dogs on a leash on the spacious lawn behind the building.
The shelter also houses various birds and rodents (rabbits, rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils) waiting for adoption.
Healthy residents can stay at HSU as long as it takes for them to find forever homes. The organization also partners with other rescue organizations and fostering communities as well. HSU has their own fostering team that helps socialize and prepare animals for adoption. They also house a clinic that provides basic maintenance care, including spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations.
Thanks to their outreach efforts, including partnerships with other rescue organizations, the shelter’s adoption rates are much higher than the national average (25% for dogs, 20% for cats). In 2014, HSU found homes for 10,481 animals, placing 93.26% of dogs who entered the shelter and 82.29% of cats. Their goal is to be a no-kill shelter (90% placement of all animals) by 2016, a goal that seems quite attainable considering their current success rates.
HSU is one of many organizations that participated in last weekend’s NKUT (No-Kill Utah) adoption extravaganza. NKUT was organized by Best Friends Animal Society and brings together small and large shelters, fostering and rescue organizations in the effort to make Utah a No-Kill state. Based in Southern Utah, Best Friends is the largest no-kill sanctuary in the U.S.
One more thing: I knew the job of visiting, learning and writing about HSU, especially Kitty City, was dangerous when I took it. Having lost a beloved 21-year-old feline companion six weeks ago, I arrived at the shelter open to welcoming a new friend. Indeed, I found a 3-month-old, as-yet-unnamed, fuzzy black kitty who’s now getting to know her new feline roommates in my house.
I hope our readers will visit HSU and check out the new digs for their adoptable animals. Even if you’re not looking for a new companion at your home, you can make a dog’s day by taking him/her out on the lawn or by playing with the friendly cats at Kitty City.
The Humane Society of Utah is Hugger Mugger’s current non-profit beneficiary. A percentage of any purchase you make through the end of June will benefit HSU’s great work.