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Humane Society volunteers give loving care to homeless pets

May 2nd, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

‘There is no time limit at the shelter. They stay with us until they’re adopted. We even take the trickier dogs and cats. We try to give every pet a chance.’ – Diane Malmquist

Story and photos by Jimena Herrero

LOGAN — Abagail is a 4-year-old purebred German shepherd, born with a birth defect and given a second chance at life through adoption. An enlarged esophagus made it difficult for Abagail to keep her food down after eating, and because of this defect her breeder couldn’t sell her.

After being surrendered to an animal shelter she found a forever home with Theresa O’Brien. Although many people wouldn’t have given her a chance, O’Brien felt it was the right thing to do.

“People seem to think animals are disposable and only cute when the are little,” O’Brien said. “I believe they are better as they age. Abagail is now a 4-year-old and hardly has any problems.”

The Cache Valley Humane Society is one of many shelters across Utah that’s helping pets like Abagail find loving homes. CVHS started approximately 35 years ago as a foster-based program. It wasn’t until 2008 that the shelter started housing pets and offering adoption services at their location.

“There is no time limit at the shelter. They stay with us until they’re adopted,” Diane Malmquist, the education coordinator at CVHS, said. “We even take the trickier dogs and cats. We try to give every pet a chance.”

According to the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 5 million to 7 million animals nationwide enter a shelter every year. Of those, 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.

CVHS is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization. They function thanks to donations from the community and volunteer work. But despite its limited funding, the shelter and its programs seem to be very successful.

According to Malmquist and CVHS records, the shelter has one of the lowest euthanasia percentages in the nation.

“We try to be as limited as we can. I’d say we euthanize about two to five animals a month,” Malmquist said. “For the most part we stay in the 98 percent success rate, which is the highest in the nation.”

Malmquist believes that along with adoption and fostering, one of the reasons for their success has been the Spay/Neuter Intervention Program, which offers low-cost spay and neutering for both cats and dogs, every Friday at the shelter.

“SNIP has been in place for about two and a half years and we’re close to 27,000 alteration surgeries,” Malmquist said. “Without the 27,000 pets spayed or neutered through the program, in five years there would be 34 million pets born.”
Most of them would end up as strays or eventually be euthanized.

Cache Valley resident Kara Moss adopted her cat Annyong, a Russian-blue mix, through CVHS and used the SNIP service. “It seemed more accessible compared to the prices at the vet and I rather support the shelter,” she said. “And Bob Barker told me to, but all joking aside it just seemed like the responsible thing to do.”

No More Homeless Pets of Utah, an organization that seeks to end the euthanasia of adoptable pets, has recently teamed up with CVHS to offer feral-fix vouchers and micro-chipping.

“We have feral-fix vouchers for people in the community who take care of feral cats,” Malmquist said. “We hope that with the SNIP program and the vouchers we can decrease pet population over time and save animals from being euthanized.” Individuals who are interested can apply for a voucher through the CVHS website.

Although the micro-chipping option is fairly new, it also seems to be a great success within the community.

“I would say that approximately 80 percent of adopted pets are being micro-chipped,” Malmquist said. “The amount of people micro-chipping their pets has definitely increased dramatically.”

As CVHS continues to expand and add programs, Malmquist is hopeful about the future of both the shelter and pets in the community.

“We’ve seen a significant growth in the amount of people that use our services,” Malmquist said. “When we look at our numbers we see there’s less dogs and cats coming in each year.”

Individuals interested in volunteering, fostering or donating to the Cache Valley Humane Society are encouraged to visit their website or call (435) 792-3920.

“We try to do small fundraisers all the time and we’re always looking for foster homes and volunteers,” Malmquist said.


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