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South Salt Lake Journal

Howloween takes over at the SSL Animal Shelter

Nov 02, 2021 12:26PM ● By Bill Hardesty

This Great Dane mixed is decked out in her hot dog costume for Howloween. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

On Oct. 16, the SSL Animal Services Shelter was decked out for Howloween.

"That's why we did the open house today, to get people familiar with the shelter and all the services that we can provide for them," Jenica Laws, the Animal Services supervisor South Salt Lake, said.

Not only was Howloween to introduce Animal Services, but it was also to have fun dressing up your pet. Wonder Woman (Sweetie) and Top Gun (Milo) came by for a visit. A Great Dane who came dressed as a hot dog supervised the event.

People also came by to see if they could give a forever home to a shelter animal.


The SSL Animal Service is more than 40 years old. It started with a small truck and a row of kennels. The current location at 2274 S. 600 West was built in 1977. As needs grew, the building was expanded.

Currently, the shelter is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. However, residents can call to make an appointment on the weekend. There is also an officer on duty 24/7.

During the Howloween event, the shelter had 11 dogs and 38 cats, including kittens.

Currently, Animal Services provides these services: animal adoption; animal surrender (within SSL boundaries); animal licensing; low-cost microchips; live trap loans and removals for domestic pests (feral cats, skunks, raccoons); animal law enforcement; noise complaints; nuisance animal complaints; animal neglect/cruelty; pet care and health resources; low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination resources; educational presentations for schools and community groups; and pet euthanasia, disposal and cremation.

Even though the shelter has a crematorium, it is still considered a no-kill shelter because they do not kill animals housed at the shelter. Animals are typically housed for five to 10 days. If the animal isn't collected or adopted, the shelter works with multiple rescue organizations like The Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society to find a forever home. The aim is never to put down an animal.

However, raccoons and skunks are a different story.

The law does not protect raccoons because they often carry rabies. In Utah, you do not need a trapping or hunting license to euthanize them. The Division of Natural Resources (DNR) has authorized SSL Animal Services to euthanize raccoons when they are received.

If a skunk is trapped, it might be euthanized or released depending on the type of skunk. If it is a striped skunk with a single thick stripe or two thinner stripes running across the back and tail (think of the cartoon character Pepé Le Pew), they are not protected by law. DNR recommends that striped skunks be euthanized or released if they are not showing any signs of rabies. If a spotted skunk, which has patches of white rather than a line, is trapped, it is protected. Animal Services releases them into the wild.

Cost of services

If a dog or cat is fixed and is microchipped, adoption costs are $8 for cats and $18 for dogs. If the dog or cat is not neutered or sprayed, the cost goes up to $68 for cats and $100 for dogs, which pays for the surgery needed. 

If an owner chooses to euthanize their animal because of ill health, SSL Animal Services can help. The cost is $10 for residents and $100 for nonresidents. If the owner wants only their animal's ashes returned, the price is $75. However, if the owner allows their animal to be joined with another animal, the cost is $35. In this case, the owner gets most of their animal ashes back along with helping another animal to have a final resting place.

"When we have to use the crematorium, I realize that I am helping someone in a time of need," Laws said.


Animal licensing isn't simply a revenue stream for the city. It is designed to protect the community from sick dogs and cats and allows Animal Services to reunite stray animals.

According to the city code, all dogs and cats need to be licensed after turning six months or 10 days after acquiring an animal older than six months. Proof of vaccinations is required at the time of licensing. Ferrets need to be licensed as well.

A tag with the license number is given and should be worn by the animal. In the case of cats, owners can request the animal be microchipped rather than having a tag. 

If an incident like a dog bite occurs, a license allows Animal Services to know the responsible party and the dog's rabies status.

Community cats

A community cat, also known as a feral cat, is nobody’s cat and everyone's cat. The cat roams around the neighborhood. People begin to leave food for the cat, which isn't a problem until a raccoon comes. Raccoons eat the food.

"We recommend that people put out food for an hour at the same time each day," Laws said, "and clean it up after an hour."

Community cats soon learn when food is available.

"We have two community cats here at the shelter. They help keep the rodent problem down," Laws said. "They also know that between four and five each day, there is food for them."