Residents encouraged to adopt furry friendsSep 08, 2022 11:45AM ● By Peri Kinder
“An adopted dog from a shelter is better than going out and buying a designer-breed dog. They are more loyal, they just love you so much. They know you rescued them. In their eyes, you can do no wrong.”
That’s Jenica Laws, supervisor at the South Salt Lake Animal Shelter (2274 S. 600 West). Like other shelters in the state, the SSL location is overflowing with pets who have been returned, lost or abandoned. The shelter is at capacity with 22 dogs, 16 adult cats and 11 kittens.
Laws said once COVID hit, people adopted most of the rescue animals, in fact, many shelters had no animals at all. But now, people are going back to work and finding their pets have developed anxiety and behavioral issues. And they’re returning them to the shelter.
“People see it and think they can’t handle it and bring the pets back,” she said. “Training is a big thing. If you would work an hour a day with your dog, it’s like taking your dog on a five-mile hike. Working their brains is actually better than walking because it wears them out faster.”
Practicing basic commands, like sit, down, stay and come, gives your dog a mental workout. Animals can be destructive when scared, so teaching them that an owner will come back helps relieve separation anxiety.
Start by leaving pets alone for 30 minutes, then an hour, then more. Give the dog a toy, like a Kong filled with favorite treats and spend time working with the dog every day.
“We’re also seeing a lot of animals because of inflation,” Laws said. “With all the prices of dog food, of people’s rent, of everything like that, people can’t afford to keep an animal. It’s either they put food on the table for the family or they buy a bag of dog food.”
The SSL shelter has extra bags of dog food residents can pick up if they’re struggling with financial challenges.
“We’d rather [the pet] be with their family and the people they’re used to than being turned over just because someone can’t afford a bag of food. We’ll gladly help with that,” Laws said.
With all the animals at the shelter, Laws said they’re going through food like crazy. Donations of dog and cat food, litter, chew toys and blankets are always needed.
Employees at the shelter provide basic training for the animals, so when they get to a new home, the pets have better manners. The adoption process is easy. Laws invites families to come to the shelter with their kids and pets, visit with the animals, take them for walks and see which one works best for their family.
“We don’t want people taking them home to just be a fail,” Laws said. “We have a rule of three: three days for an animal to decompress in your home, three weeks for an animal to feel comfortable and three months to completely feel at home. If you do adopt, don’t give up on them within a week.”
To learn about animals at the SSL shelter available for adoption, visit SSLC.gov.
“To open your heart to a shelter animal is amazing. It’s an animal that had a home at one point and then got abandoned or lost and never could find its home,” Laws said. “To give that animal another chance at a home is one of the greatest feelings ever.” λ