With more than 70% of households in the US having pets, it’s no surprise that companion animals factor heavily into our decisions about housing. It’s also no secret that we at Homeworks are *huge* animal lovers, perhaps none more than HW agent, Melissa Lipani, who came to real estate after a long career in animal welfare helping shelters across the Mountain West.
Melissa is always advocating for our community’s animals, particularly encouraging pet adoption first—especially given how many amazing adoptable pets await a home of their own in our area shelters and rescues. She recently sat down with her friend, former colleague, and HW client, Michelle Dosson, Executive Director of Best Friends Animal Society-Utah, to get some thoughts on the post-pandemic state-of-the-state for homeless pets in Utah, how to get involved, and how choosing to adopt a pet can make a house a home (awww).
Give us the quick truth…why should people consider adopting a pet?
Adopting saves lives. There are so many adoptable animals in Salt Lake City who have found themselves without families and in shelters through no fault of their own—they’re just waiting to be adopted. Waiting for you.
What are some of the biggest myths about rescue and shelter pets? For example, is it true that you can find all sorts of puppies, kittens, purebred, and non-shedding animals in our local shelters?
Yes! You can absolutely find your next pet (and family member) in a shelter near you. You name it, I’ve seen it in an animal shelter. Like humans, all animals are individuals and have their own personalities, quirks, and behavior traits. An adoptable animal from an animal shelter does not mean they did something wrong to have ended up in the shelter.
I hear there is a coalition of shelters and rescues working together here. Where are some of the places people can look for adoptable pets, both online and in person?
No-Kill Utah (NKUT) an initiative led by Best Friends that brings together passionate individuals, city shelters and a group of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of dogs and cats in shelters throughout the state of Utah. There is a handy search feature on our website that will show you coalition partners within a distance range of your preference. Besides that, a simple Google search for “animal shelters near me” will give you plenty of results. Your next family member is closer than you think!
Can you tell us a bit more about “no kill” and how we, as a state/city, are faring in that regard?
No-Kill means that no healthy or treatable animals should be killed when there are alternatives available to save them. That means, a pet shouldn’t be killed just because it finds itself temporarily homeless. Communities should rally behind organizations that are working to achieve and maintain that goal effectively and responsibly.
The benchmark for No-Kill is defined by a 90% save rate. Typically, the number of pets who are suffering from irreparable medical or behavioral issues that compromise their quality of life and prevent them from being re-homed does not exceed 10% of all dogs and cats entering shelters. According to Best Friends most recent data, the percentage of U.S. shelters that achieved the No-Kill benchmark reached an all-time high of nearly 57% in 2022.
Utah has 60 brick and mortar animal shelters, of which 12 are not yet No-Kill. Salt Lake County as a whole (which has several shelters, some of which are considered national leaders) has not yet achieved No-Kill status.
What are some other ways people can help if they can't adopt a pet?
Foster. Volunteer. Donate. Advocate. If you are not ready or able to commit to adopting, why not consider fostering? When you provide a foster home to an animal, you become part of a lifesaving team working to create a bright, healthy, and safe future for homeless dogs and cats around the country. A shelter can be a noisy and stressful place, especially for shy or frightened animals. By providing a loving, quiet place for pets to learn and grow, you’re helping to alleviate the burden for a local shelter. When you foster a pet, you’re helping to save even more lives by freeing up space in shelters for additional animals. There are many foster and volunteer opportunities (in-shelter and remote) available.
Here is a link to more information on Best Friends Salt Lake Lifesaving Center program, located in Sugar House. Become an advocate for lifesaving change (click here for all of the statewide partners in Utah). At Best Friends, we also have a community-driven, grassroots movement to help save more dogs and cats across the country. Lifesaving in regard to animal sheltering truly is a community effort, and your local shelters need you (foster, volunteer, adopt, donate). Get involved!