No-kill state of mind

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First Posted: 4/1/2014

We see it every day: a stray dog or cat wandering the streets looking for scraps of food, the local animal shelters filled to the brim with unwanted pets, many which will be put down without much of a chance. According to the ASPCA, approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals (cats and dogs) enter animal shelters every year, and out of that number, approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized. The chances of an adult dog getting adopted once in a shelter system are slim.

The world for animals has always been a cruel one, but there is still hope. Salt Lake City, a city I have visited often and have found to be quite progressive, made a recent announcement that gives unwanted animals hope. The Best Friends Animal Society unveiled a plan to launch a statewide initiative that will make Utah a state that no longer kills dogs and cats in shelters. The goal is to have Utah be a no-kill state by 2019, making it the nation’s second no-kill state, following New Hampshire.

Best Friends Animal Society will contribute $1 million, with 36 other Utah-based animal welfare groups also joining the cause. Gregory Castle, chief executive of Best Friends, has high hopes for the state’s plans.

“It’s possible to save all the animals; this is the final push,” said Castle. The Best Friends Animal Society has the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

In 1999, Utah began the No More Homeless Pets initiative; at that time, Utah was killing 46,000 animals per year in shelters. In 2013, 18,000 were put to death, a significant decrease in numbers.

“Since animal advocates began working on the problem in Utah two decades ago, the percentage of animals both entering and dying in shelters has dropped substantially,” Castle said.

Other cities are also working towards a no-kill status. Washington County was the first to reach the goal last year, followed by West Valley City and Salt Lake County.

New Hampshire has set the bar when it comes to controlling pet overpopulation as well. The small state has successfully reduced its euthanasia rate and is the only state that meets the criteria to claim it is a no-kill state, meaning 90 percent of the animals that enter shelters leave alive. Unfortunately, the other 10 percent are often too sick or have behavioral problems and are unable to be adopted.

Pennsylvania has a long way to go, but you can help. Be an animal advocate and promote the importance of simply spaying or neutering your pet to help eliminate the number of homeless animals. If you’re ready and have the proper environment, adopt! The animals I have had throughout my life have been my best friends.

The SPCA of Luzerne County is always in need of supplies to help care for animals. Items most often used are the following:

• Non-clumping clay cat litter

• Dry adult cat food without red dye

• Canned cat food

• Dry kitten chow

• Dry adult dog food without red dye

• Canned dog food