Walking through the front door of the facility, visitors are greeted by the characteristic curiosity of the friendly felines who unabashedly jump up on the counter just inside the door.
No More Homeless Pets in Utah, a non-profit organization started by Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) CEO Gregory Castle, has worked toward eliminating the euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats since its creation in 2000.
Since 2000 the animal euthanasia rate in Utah has dropped by 50 percent, and over 100,000 lives have been saved. NMHPU is definitely making a big difference, but according to Marketing Specialist Jaimi Haig, that is not enough.
With somewhere around 363,000 homeless dogs and cats in Utah, NMHPU and their animal-loving allies certainly have their work cut out for them. By the sound of Haig’s confidence in her boss and NMHPU founder Gregory Castle, it seems hopes are high.
“He’s seriously one of the most passionate and compassionate people I’ve ever met in my life,” Haig said. “He’s willing to do everything possible to make this work.”
Castle recently announced an upcoming merger with BFAS to provide Utah facilities with national resources. Haig talked about the new partnership with excitement and passion in her voice, highlighting how widespread support through brand recognition would enhance their abilities to meet goals.
“From a marketing standpoint we’re moving more to the Best Friends branding, but we’re going to stay true to our programs,” Haig said, as one of the cats living in the facility jumped onto the table, eager to be part of the conversation and center of attention.
The three main areas of NMHPU’s mission that will get the support boost Haig is so excited about include their spay/neuter, adoption and Feral Fix programs. The spay/neuter and adoption programs resemble common shelter programs, but the Feral Fix program is somewhat unique. Similar programs have proven successful in places like Jacksonville FL, but according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the methods are not used as much as they should be.
ASPCA research indicates that the trap-neuter-release techniques used in the Feral Fix program are far more effective than other outdated methods. “Not only are some of these methods horribly cruel,” ASPCA writes on their website, “they are also highly ineffective.” Killing or relocating the feral cats, Haig agrees, will only propagate the problem since natural processes would only fill any void left by the missing cats.
That’s why with their limited resources, provided through grants, donations and volunteer work, NMHPU provides food and care for communities of feral cats that have been trapped, neutered and released.
These techniques will decrease feral cat population over time and, of course, eliminate the need for euthanasia. Unfortunately, many people either don’t know about this successful feral cat management process, or have been misinformed.
The most disappointing issue according to Haig, though, is the “disconnect” between spaying, neutering and buying from breeders with what’s happening in shelters.
“A lot of people don’t realize there’s a connection between letting their pets breed, or buying from a breeder and keeping that breeder in business,” Haig said, “and how many animals are dying in the shelters.”
Despite the drawbacks, Haig is excited about the promising future of NMHPU. The Facebook page has nearly 10,000 likes, and the upcoming partnership with BFAS will certainly allow for more widespread education about animal care, and ultimately save the lives of thousands of animals.
For more information about NMHPU and the services they offer, visit www.utahpets.org or call 1-866-PETS-FIX.
By Jeff Jacobsen – Online Content Manager