Nearly empty Utah animal shelter welcomes in dozens of rescues from other locations following successful adoption event

MURRAY, Utah – One of Utah’s largest animal shelters is running out of pets just before the holidays, but they say rows of empty kennels is an amazing problem to have!

At the Humane Society of Utah, you’ll find it all -- toys, bowls, beds… everything a dog, cat, bunny or guinea pig could need.

“We house up to 250 animals at our facility each day,” said Humane Society of Utah’s director of marketing and communications, Deann Shepherd.

But room after room and kennel after kennel, there is just one thing missing – the pets.

“Let’s see who is left in here,” Shepherd said as she turned the corner towards a row of kennels. “This is a rare sight to see, an empty room of kennels.”

“These are supposed to be where the larger dogs are housed, and [they] look empty and clean, ready to take an animal in from another shelter,” Shepherd smiled as she opened the door to a green kennel in another room.

Following a successful adoption event that placed 163 animals in new homes last weekend, the pet pickings are slim right now.

But, believe it or not, this is a good thing.

“I’m trying not to cry,” Shepherd said. “We love to see this, it really hits the staff hard when we walk through a room and see empty kennels like this because we know that that pet is in its loving new home and in its new bed.”

Shepherd said their goal is always to clear the shelter, but their excess spaces wouldn’t be possible without the animal lovers who choose to adopt, not shop.

“So, this is Ruby,” one woman said as she sat behind her new rescue pet. “Daddy likes the Utah Utes, he’s a Utes fan, so Ruby is for red,” she laughed.

Stephanie Alder has adopted from the Humane Society in the past, she said for her family adopting isn’t an option but a necessity.

“I’ve worked in the industry before and have seen what high kill shelters can do and it’s heartbreaking, so to give them a home, to free up a space for another dog that really needs it, is important to me,” Alder said as she choked back tears.

“I like knowing that somewhere down the line, somewhere in this circle of shelters we are saving somebody and helping, somebody that needs it,” Alder continued.

Now, with every pet that goes out the door, a new one can come in.

“Prancer and Comet and Dasher, Blitzen and Vixen,” Shepherd said as she read off the names of the new puppies they received Monday from a shelter that was at capacity.

“Some Border Collies, and they’re all named after Thanksgiving food — so Potato, Turkey, Yammy, Cranberry, Beans,” she smiled as she pointed to the other half of the puppy-filled room.

The shelter said at the end of the day, each empty space means one more animal getting a second chance, and one more family opening their hearts and homes to a rescue pet.

“This place is full of best friends, and there is bound to be a love connection for anybody who is looking,” Alder smiled. “We found a love connection.”

Any dogs that are not adopted by end-of-day Wednesday will be sent home with more than 40 volunteers as part of their ‘Home for the Holidays’ program, giving each of their shelter dogs an opportunity to spend the night in a warm, loving home.

They are still looking for volunteers to take pets home for the Christmas holiday. You can register to be a volunteer on their website.

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