a handful of local animal lovers began keeping statistics
five years ago nearly half of the dogs picked up by animal
control officers in Grand County were euthanized. This year,
that same group and then some–widely known as the Humane
Society of Moab Valley – reports only 7 percent of the
dogs picked up are euthanized. Not only that, the problem
of having to bring in loose or unwanted dogs has itself diminished
by a third, from 148 in 1999 to 100 in 2003.
This is the bottom line of an ongoing success story of one
of Moab’s most active non-profit organizations, the
Humane Society of Moab Valley.
The figures for cats, while less impressive, takes into consideration
a feral cat population previously uncounted. The Humane Society’s
Tricia Gundlach says that trapping, sterilizing and releasing
feral cats will do more in the long run to reduce the population
than picking them up and killing them. The void promotes more
breeding, she says, while releasing sterile cats doesn’t
allow for breeding but doesn’t promote it either.
The Humane Society of Moab Valley was begun by local real
estate agent Judy Powers with a small ad in the Ad-Vertiser
asking for help with foster parenting and finding homes for
healthy, stray animals that would otherwise be euthanized
by an animal control program that had no other way of dealing
with the growing problem. Judy and a handful of others began
housing animals themselves, slowly enlisting the help of other
like-minded people in the community. Today the Humane Society
holds “Adoption Days” every two weeks and has
eight temporary shelters, or foster homes, where healthy animals
are kept by generous volunteers until permanent homes can
be found. Occasionally, when there is an overflow and adoptions
are low, animals are taken to the Humane Society in Salt Lake
City, again by volunteers with carriers donated or purchased
with donations. Many of those animals find permanent homes.
• 65 dogs and 66 cats were rescued, fostered and adopted
out by the Society.
• Society volunteers facilitated another 20 adoptions
directly from Animal Control to the public.
• 40 animals were transported to the Salt Lake Humane
• 120 Moab Valley foster animals and 250 feral cats
were spayed and neutered.
• 167 families received assistance with low cost spay
and neuter programs for their pets.
• Over 180 new Humane Society members were recruited
and $5,000 was raised in new memberships.
• Over $11,000 was raised in grants, and $30,000 in
• 20 new volunteers were recruited.
statistics are bolstering current efforts to construct a permanent
animal shelter in Moab, which according to Tricia is a necessary
next step in local animal control.
“Fostering is difficult to do long term,” she
said. “It’s stressful on animals and their people
to be introduced to a new home for short periods of time.
A successful fostering program would be to have an animal
for a year, let it get comfortable, and then find a home for
it. A shelter would allow us to have a more effective fostering
That’s because a shelter, as currently planned, would
have 24 cat cages and 13 dog runs, as well as office space
for the Humane Society and an animal evaluation facility that
would allow families to get acquainted with their adoptee
apart from other animals in the shelter.
“In a separate space people can get a better idea of
an animal’s temperament,” Tricia said.
“We have visited shelters in Colorado and Utah, and
we have an architect who has donated time to making the plans,”
she said. Moab City and Grand County have committed funds
and possibly property on Kane Creek Boulevard to the effort,
and an interested donor has offered $40,000 to help with construction
“It’s very exciting, and it’s really going
to be a vast improvement,” Tricia said. “We’ll
be more centralized and can better utilize our volunteer hours.
We’ll be able to put more energy into solving the problem
and not just handling it.”
The Humane Society of Moab Valley currently has 30 active
volunteers and another 20 people who help out during special
events. One volunteer, Karen Wise, cares for 60 to 70 percent
of the dogs fostered by the Humane Society, and donates “easily
75 hours a month,” Tricia said. Moab City Animal Control
officers Randy Zimmerman (Animal Control Officer of the Year,
2003, for the State) and George Koskinen, are ardent supporters
of the Society and work closely with its volunteers. Local
businesses – Family Drug, City Market, Chevron and Turner
Lumber - have been generous with their space, offering it
on a regular basis for adoption days.
This month marks one of two times a year the Humane Society
offers a 50 to 70 percent discount on spay and neuter certificates.
Local veterinarians participate in the program March 15 through
31. Vouchers, and further information may be obtained by calling
the Humane Society at 259-HUMANE (4862). Office hours are
Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.