Plan to return stray cats to field to avoid euthanasia in Utah County met with hesitance

Animals

Utah County lags behind the state's overall 85% save rate

UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) – UPDATE: The South Utah Valley Animal Shelter provided ABC4 News with the following statement about a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program:

“It first must be made clear that no member city of the South Utah Valley Animal Shelter has a desire to see animals euthanized. The topic of TNR has been continually discussed at staff and board meetings with complicating factors arising each time. In a perfect world we would love to see every animal that’s brought to the shelter either reunited with its owner or adopted out to a loving family. As a board we ask the staff at the SUVAS to strive toward this goal…”

“Again, the member cities of the South Utah Valley Animal Shelter board are not necessarily against the TNR program. We are taking some time to research the program to make sure it is the best alternative for the residents of our communities.”

“Animal activists are working with Utah County to try and lower high euthanasia rates in the area. Cats are more at risk than dogs, and there is a proposal to return stray cats to the field to avoid euthanasia. “

PREVIOUS STORY: Animal activists are working with Utah County to try and lower high euthanasia rates in the area. Cats are more at risk than dogs, and there is a proposal to return stray cats to the field to avoid euthanasia.

Currently, when stray cats come into Utah County animal shelters, they have five days to be adopted. Those who are not are euthanized.

Under the return to field proposal introduced by No-Kill Utah, an organization under the umbrella of Best Friends Animal Society, cats who test as unadoptable or who aren’t claimed will be spayed or neutered and then released back to where they were found.

“1,200 animals are being killed in Utah County,” said Lydia LaSalle, executive director of Best Friends Animal Society.

A recent report card by the organization showed 4 out of 10 cats that enter Utah County animal shelters are put down if they cannot be adopted in time. That’s why LaSalle and others are pushing for Utah County shelters to implement a “return to field” policy, which is already encouraged but not mandated by the Community Cat Act of 2011.

The “trap, neuter, release” plan has worked in surrounding counties, according to LaSalle.

“We’ve never heard that from any participating shelter that they’ve had an increase in bites or increase of anything that would be a public concern,” said LaSalle, who added that shelters in Utah County are hesitant to implement the program.

The plan has helped surrounding counties bring the state’s save rate up to 85%.

North Utah Valley Animal Shelter is looking into implementing the program, according to the Daily Herald, which also found South Utah Valley Animal Shelter has said it is not interested in the program. ABC4 News made repeated calls Tuesday to both shelters, but those calls were never returned.

Law enforcement isn’t fully on board, either. American Fork Police, for example, have no official position on a return to field program.

Best Friends is now asking the public to help drum up support among city councils, law enforcement and animal shelters in Utah County.

“Contact the decision-makers, contact the shelter, contact the special district board, contact your city council – tell them that you actually care about this issue and you would like to see a different outcome for the cats in Utah County,” said LaSalle.

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