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Praises for much improved St. George Animal Shelter, grand reopening announced -- Tuesday June 17th, 2014

ST. GEORGE – Dark clouds of controversy once loomed over the St. George Animal Shelter due to allegations of animal neglect and mistreatment. Now, a year later, the clouds have long since parted and the city’s animal shelter has undergone a transformation that has won the praise of city officials and animal rescue advocates alike.

Saturday the public is invited to come and see firsthand the changes made to the animal shelter as it holds a grand reopening event complete with ribbon cutting, tours of the remodeled facility, half-price pet adoption fees and more.

I’m very pleased with how things have changed there ,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “We’re improving it with our community partners.”

Once forbidding, now welcoming

Kris Neal, who runs the nonprofit One More Change CATS program and also manages the city’s feral cat trap/neuter/release program, said the St. George Animal Shelter originally felt dark and forbidding.

I couldn’t go in there ,” she said. “It was depressing.”

Neal said conditions for the animals in the shelter weren’t the best. The animals appeared stressed at times, as did the people dealing with them. There were also issues with shelter management, or rather, mismanagement.

Neal was one of a number of people who complained to the city about the state of the shelter, eventually leading to a public meeting on the matter in July 2013. There were allegations made against then shelter manager David Vane that accused him of mistreating and neglecting animals and mismanaging the shelter, among other alleged problems.

An investigation was launched by the St. George Police Department, which oversees the shelter, and it was concluded that while some of the allegations were baseless, others were confirmed and required prompt resolution. The investigation findings can be read in detail here.

Vane was removed as the shelter manager and placed on administrative leave. St. George Police Sgt. Ivor Fuller replaced him and the city began to implement changes to shelter policy and the facility.

“It’s night and day,” Neal said. “ From what I can see the animals are a lot happier; a whole lot more at peace .”

Overall, Neal said, the shelter has a much friendlier atmosphere to it.

Change for the better

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said a number of city departments were involved in remodeling the city’s animal shelter, as were partnering animal rescue groups that helped donate to the effort.

It’s definitely been a community effort ,” Mortensen said.

Changes made during the remodeling of the animal shelter include:

  • Remodeled outdoor kennels, along with the addition of new ones – the dogs are also able to move freely between the indoor and outdoor kennels
  • Adding two dog runs – one for small dogs and one for large dogs
  • A remodeled indoor cat room with the addition of an outdoor cat enclosure
  • Raised beds for all animals
  • Remodeled administrative office and restrooms
  • An upgraded computer network
  • New landscaping to the property
  • Making the shelter more ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and accessible

The cost of time and materials for the remodel is estimated at over $100,000, Mortensen said. Along with the various city departments involved, he also credited partnering animal rescue groups for their aid in the process. These included Best Friends Animal Society, P.A.W.S, Because Animals Matter, H.A.R.T., and Neal’s feral cat trap/neuter/release program.

“We’ve also received tremendous cooperation from our veterinarians,” he said.

Changes related to management and policy have taken place as well. The standard of care for the animals and the cleaning of kennels have been brought in line with practices that better provide for the safety and overall well being of animals staying at the shelter.

The shelter has also officially adopted a “no-kill” policy . Animals will not be put to sleep while housed at the shelter.

As for personnel, Mortensen said they are no longer referred to as animal control officers. They are now called “animal service officers.” As well, they have been certified by the state and national animal control associations.

In February, fees at the shelter were revised as part of the overhaul process. Adoption fees for un-neutered and un-spayed animals were lowered to $50 for dogs and $40 for cats. Getting the animals spayed and neutered is covered in the revised fees. The costs for animals that have already been “fixed” is a blanket $20.

“A lot of good things are happening,” Mortensen said.

The St. George Animal Shelter has also made a presence for itself on Facebook over the last year. It has routinely posted photos of animals waiting for adoption, while also sharing updates on the aspects of the facility’s overhaul on occasion.

Pike said he and his daughter went to the animal shelter recently and volunteered to walk some of the dogs in the shelter. He said he was happy with the experience and progress the shelter had made.

Everything is in a much better state ,” he said.

Grand reopening and open house

The shelter will host its grand reopening and an open house starting at 10 a.m., Saturday, starting with a ribbon cutting. Shelter staff and partners will be available to answer questions, and tours of the remodeled facility will also be offered. Radio personalities from Canyon Media will also be broadcasting live from the animal shelter.

All pet adoption fees will be half-off that day.

“We’re excited for it,” Pike said.

The St. George Animal Shelter is located at 605 East Red Hills Parkway, St. George, and is will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday. The event is free to the public.

Five Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls -- Wednesday October 30th, 2013

Five Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls

By Jon Bastian

October is the third annual National Pit Bull Awareness Month, with National Pit Bull Awareness Day coming on the 26th. NPBAD was started in 2007 by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys, a rescue and education group located in Tennessee. Due to the overwhelming positive response, the Awareness Month was created four years later.

The ultimate goal of both events is to promote the truth about pit bulls, and everyone is invited to participate. According to their website, "With the exception of the date, NPBAD is 'unstructured' to allow those who participate to be as creative and have as much fun as possible with their ideas and celebrations. Through the years, we have seen some really creative and incredibly successful events!"

In honor of National Pit Bull Awareness Month, here are our suggestions on how you can become involved and help restore the good reputation of this wonderful breed.

Be a Responsible Owner

As Cesar has taught us, the problem is not the breed, it's the human. If you have pit bulls in your pack, make sure that you have trained them properly, and that they get sufficient exercise. Provide your dog with rules, boundaries, and limitations, and make sure that they are socialized with people, children, and other dogs.

Daddy and Junior have both shown us what wonderful dogs pit bulls can be, but your pit bulls can be ambassadors for the breed as well. If you don't have pit bulls, or even if you don't have dogs, there's something else you can do to help.

If you see someone with a well-controlled, calm pit bull coming toward you on the street, don't avoid them. Maintain a respectful social space, of course, but by not showing fear at the appearance of the dog, you are letting the owner know that you've got nothing against the breed, and this can go a long way to building their confidence, which makes them a better Pack Leader and a more responsible owner.

Work Against BSL

In many jurisdictions, lawmakers are taking another look at Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), and we are now starting to see more sensible laws taking their place. Instead of focusing on the type of dog, these laws focus on the behavior of the owners.

In a recent interview with the Salt Lake City Weekly, Best Friends Animal Society senior legislative attorney Ledy VanKavage explained, "The trend is to go away from breed-discriminatory laws and pass comprehensive reckless-owner and dangerous-dog laws that are breed-neutral."

Recently, in response to a We the People website petition, the White House officially came out against BSL, and the states of Nevada and Colorado have outlawed all BSL — although Colorado's law does not apply to the city of Denver, which still bans pit bulls.

Momentum seems to be on the side of ending BSL, but you can help. If pit bulls are banned in your area, contact your local lawmakers and encourage others to do so. Often, issues like this are not addressed if legislators aren't aware of them or don't feel that there's strong public opinion on them. We can make that opinion known and raise awareness, and all it takes is a few phone calls.

Remember the Past

Once upon a time, pit bulls were the preferred nanny dog, and they were often left in the care of young children. One of the most famous pit bulls early in the last century was Petey, the dog who starred in a long series of "Little Rascals" films opposite children. There have been a number of famous pit bulls, and they are still one of the top ten most popular breeds in the U.S.

This all started to change only fairly recently, and pit bulls didn't get a bad rap until they became the guard dog of choice for drug dealers at the same time that dog fighting re-emerged, in the mid-1980s. And they were not the first, or only, breed to ever become subject to blanket bans. At various times, German shepherds and Rottweilers were the most likely breeds to be outlawed.

Just this history alone should be strong evidence that it's not the breed that's the problem; it's how they're treated by the humans who are responsible for them.

Join the Campaign

You can join the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign by participating in National Pit Bull Awareness Day, and Bless the Bullies has suggestions for NPBAD events.

Year-round, you can become involved with local pit bull rescue organizations or become a foster family for pit bulls looking for their forever homes. And, always, you can stand up for a misunderstood and mischaracterized breed.


The best way to counteract fear is education. As the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign puts it, "Knowledge is power, and with education and advocacy, the truth will save lives in terms of negating the fear and bias generated by the media, circumvent knee-jerk reactions such as breed bans, and the truth will result in fewer pit bulls ending up in animal shelters."

A fun way to educate, and one suggested as part of an NPBAD event, is the Pick the Pit game. Additionally, the National Canine Research Council has put together a great BSL FAQ that dispels the myths about the effectiveness of these laws while explaining why they are neither necessary nor successful.

It may still be an uphill climb in some areas, but pit bulls are gradually being redeemed as a breed and the stigma is slowly going away. The Boston Globe recently reported in a story headlined "Rising pit bull adoptions reflect breed's changing image" that "Pit bull adoptions are climbing statewide and, in the biggest surprise, extending into the suburbs.

"The number of pit bull adoptions in Massachusetts has shot up in recent years… In 2003, 146 pit bulls were adopted from MSPCA shelters in Massachusetts. This year, the number stands at 216."

It's a good start, but together we can take it further until, one day, pit bulls are once again seen as the loveable babysitters and goofy best friends that they have always been.

Read more:

11624 S. Broadview Way •  Sandy, UT 84092  •  (435) 565-4031 •  rescuerovers [ at ]