SANDY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Residents in Sandy City are questioning why three animals, two dogs, and one cat were euthanized earlier this month.
They were in Sandy City Animal Services care for about a month before being transferred to the Utah Animal Control Officer Association for euthanasia.
Documents obtained by ABC4 News show part of the decision was based on the Humane Society of Utah’s assessment. But officials Humane Society tell ABC4’s Jason Nguyen that’s not true.
The animals in question include an Alaskan Malamute, Belgian Malinois, and this White Cat were all picked up by Sandy City Animal Services in May.
Before being transferred to the Utah Animal Control Officer Association, each animal was listed as available.
“It was heart-wrenching, I had been watching one of the dogs on there because he had been in there a while,” says Sandy City Councilwoman Kris Nicholl. “And, I was going to call the next day and find out what the dog’s story was, and to find out what happened to him was very disheartening.”
All three animals were euthanized during a UACOA training at the South Jordan Police Department on June 9.
“I had some residents contact me who are very upset,” says the councilwoman.
In a Government Records Access and Management Act request, Sandy City Animal Control Officer Ian Williams tells us each animal was listed as a stray and held for five days. After the stray hold, the animals become available, but that doesn’t mean they are available for adoption.
“While in our care and custody, they were evaluated by our staff, the transfer team from the Humane Society of Utah, a member of the Utah Animal Control Officers Association, and a senior officer from a neighboring animal control department, “Williams states. “Each evaluation concluded that the animals could not be handled with reasonable accommodations and would pose a threat to the handler, other persons, and animals. They were determined not to be adoptable.”
ABC4 News contacted HSU to see if they were a part of the decision.
In a statement Advocacy Director Rachel Heatley tells us, “The Humane Society of Utah did not sponsor or participate in the euthanasia-by-injection (EBI) training held at the South Jordan Animal Shelter on June 9, 2021. It has come to our attention that three animals used as models in the training were animals that had the potential to be transferred to the Humane Society of Utah for placement. Our transfer team does not assess animals for adoptability for other organizations. Rather, our transfer team determines whether an animal can be transferred into our sheltering program based on factors outlined in our assessment matrix. In addition to our assessment matrix, the transfer team determines whether or not to transfer an animal based on the needs of the current population in our care. Our transfer team declined to transfer the animals to our facility and we stand by that decision.”
“It’s alarming to me that the context in which I asked the question and the explanation I got, and then seeing the Humane Society’s comment today, this afternoon, doesn’t match up,” says Councilwoman Nicholl.
The councilwoman says she found there were some technical issues processing the animals.
“There were some technical issues and there was some software limitations. But, the other tools in the software wasn’t utilized.” she adds.
She is talking to city attorneys about the issue and plans to bring this up publicly in a future council meeting.
“My next approach is to change the policies so it is crystal clear that circumstances like this don’t happen again,” she says. “I can guarantee there will be a policy change.”
Late Thursday night Vice President Pam Rasmussen with UACOA sent ABC4 News the following statement in part, “No one in the animal care profession wants to perform euthanasia, but the people who take on this emotional and unwelcome task owe it to the animals to do it well. Criticism of these animal care professionals, instructing veterinarians, and participating shelters or organizations are counterproductive to our shared goals of limiting the need for euthanasia and providing the best in humane outcomes for animals in the state of Utah.”