A New Journey in Volunteering

HSU is not affilliated with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Having completed my orientation last weekend, this afternoon at 2 PM, I will attend training to work with dogs at the Humane Society of Utah. I’ve chosen to work with dogs because I’m a cat owner who is also quite fond of their canine counterparts.

Not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Utah is a not-for-profit shelter supported solely by community donations and volunteers. Founded in 1960, the Humane Society of Utah (HSU) has been in their current building since 1993. They are now undergoing a very significant expansion of their space, which will include an area where cats are able to be socialized together in “cat colonies” not requiring them to be individually caged. A large new dog wing is also part of the facility expansion.

Approximately 150 animals are available for adoption each day. HSU uses area adoption events to help promote animal adoption rates, and handles around 1,000 animals each month. To me, this latter number is both astounding and disturbing! They have an open admissions policy, meaning they will take any animal brought in to them, even if you can’t pay the token surrender fee requested.

New west wing construction at the HSU facility in Murray

According to Jamie Usry, Volunteer & Special Events Manager, HSU sees themselves as a “last resort option.” Because of their donation-based funding model, they are not able to support the large volume of animals surrendered to them and maintain a no-kill shelter status. However, they do adopt out around 80% of the animals they receive, and have not euthanized an adoptable dog in 3 years. Cats, Jamie was sad to say, have not been so lucky.

Please spay or neuter your pets!
Cat owners: If you must have kittens, take the adoption option!

HSU has wisely made volunteering very easy. There are no scheduled shifts, hours, etc. Feel like stopping in on a lunch break or after work and walking a couple of dogs? Great! Able to spend an afternoon washing dogs? They’d love to have you! Prefer to cozy up in the corner or play with a few cats when time permits? They’ve got you covered. Jamie said that volunteer hours have a high impact on monthly donations, so the higher the number of volunteer hours each month, the more likely they are to receive larger donations of support. It’s a not-for-profit fact of life: People are more inclined to give money to causes they see others are willing to volunteering their time and support.

New east wing construction at the HSU facility in Murray

I was also happy to learn HSU is against breed legislation. Pit bull bans, currently in effect in South Jordan and proposed for Taylorsville, can require responsible owners who have raised gentle, loving family pets to surrender their dogs, typically to be euthanized. I highly question the existence of “problem dog breeds”; I am more inclined to believe that callous and uncaring people often get these dogs solely because they want to own a “bad ass” dog, and there are breeds with a reputation we have created for being easily trained to fight or be aggressive.

I’m excited to get the training done so I can begin working with the animals! I’ll let you know all about it as things progress; I’m sure my eyes will be opened in many new and meaningful ways, some pleasant and others emotionally painful.

Stay tuned.

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Have you had an experience volunteering with HSU? I’d love to
hear about it! Please leave your comments below.

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