With animal shelter at full capacity, Tooele City Police take back command
Dec 15, 2023, 6:00 PM
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News.)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Tooele City Animal Shelter is no longer in the business of animal adoption or pet rescue because the shelter was running out of space for aggressive animals to be detained.
“[Beginning] December 12, 2023, the Tooele City Animal Shelter will exclusively accept animal intake through authorized channels, such as animal control officers and police officers,” said the shelter in a Facebook post.
Lt. Jeremy Hansen of the Tooele City Police Department, who is also the department’s public information officer, joined Dave and Dujanovic to talk about the city’s move and the reasons behind it.
“Yeah, so the animal shelter used to be under the police department up until about a year… maybe two years. And it was under the direction of the assistant [police] chief,” Hansen said.
After that, the shelter was under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department.
But as of Tuesday, he said, the shelter is now under his command.
Animal shelter full
The shelter had been at maximum capacity for a “substantial amount of time,” and public safety was being compromised as a result, he said.
“It was to the point where the animal-control officers would be investigating a dog bite or an animal attack, and we didn’t have anywhere to take that animal because the shelter was full,” Hansen said. “We have to have somewhere to take these aggressive animals. Public safety has to be our number one priority.”
The main objective, Hansen added, is to strike a three-way balance between public safety, the demand on the shelter and the employees who care for the shelter animals.
The city shelter was turning away pet owners who lived outside the city trying to surrender an animal.
“We tell them, ‘We can only accept city animals’ and so they give it to their family member who lives in the city [who] then surrenders it,” Hansen said.
The city shelter can’t handle a county-wide problem, he added.
City Mayor Debbie Winn has met with other leaders of government agencies in the Tooele Valley to discuss the need for a regional animal shelter, but “those talks failed,” Hansen said.
How much space does the animal shelter have left?
Only 20 dog kennel spaces remain at the city shelter, Hansen said.
“Then there’s, I believe, four quarantine kennels, so that’s not a lot of room.”
The focus for now is using the shelter space for aggressive animals.
“We’re still gonna be taking those types of surrenders. We’re trying to take the aggressive animals and the animals that are prone to attack,” Hansen said. “And then we’re hoping the rescue groups can help alleviate some of the overpopulation in our shelter.”
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