No-kill actually means low-kill because just about all shelters put down animals that are dangerous, gravely injured or too sick to recover. Different organizations and shelters have various definitions of the term: Some use a percentage or number, while others define no-kill as putting down only animals considered to be unadoptable.
West Valley City plans to follow the lead of the Salt Lake County Animal Services, which last year achieved its goal of euthanizing fewer than five animals for every 1,000 population it serves. In the case of the West Valley shelter, which also serves Taylorsville, that will equal approximately 1,000 animals.
The West Valley-Taylorsville shelter took in approximately 5,000 animals last year and put down about 1,700 animals. Most of the euthanized animals were sick, injured or not adoptable because they were vicious or feral, officials said.
At a study meeting Tuesday, council members decided to substitute the proclamation for a similar resolution that had been drafted by West Valley administrators. The resolution called for the elimination of euthanasia "to the extent possible" but also had the council giving its "full support" to shelter procedures, including the use of the gas chamber.
Animal advocates have been pressing shelter officials to discontinue use of the carbon monoxide chamber since a cat survived two attempted gassings last fall. Some also have asked for the shelter to become no-kill.
West Valley officials have said that the shelter will continue to use both carbon monoxide and injection because allowing employees to choose which method to use reduces the emotional toll of euthanasia on staff.
Councilman Corey Ruston, who wrote the proclamation, did not include any mention of the specific methods of euthanasia. He said the decision on the gas chamber has already been made and that the resolution sounded "defensive."
The proclamation notes the efforts by the Animal Services Division to increase pet licensing, microchip identification, pet care and responsibility and other programs that help return lost animals to their owners. It also praises employees there for their hard work, compassion and customer service.
Becoming a no-kill shelter already has the support of Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall. In his State of the City address delivered on Feb. 1, Wall called for his city and West Valley to work together to get that designation in three years. The West Valley City proclamation does not set a deadline.
A CITY COUNCIL PROCLAMATION REGARDING THE GOALS & OBJECTIVES OF THE ANIMAL SERVICES DIVISION OF WEST VALLEY CITY.
WHEREAS, West Valley City recognizes the importance of animals and animal stewardship in thriving communities and nations; and
WHEREAS, the Animal Services Division of the Community Preservation Department ("Animal Services") strives to increase pet licensing, microchip identification, pet care and responsibility, education, and other programs that result in increased numbers of lost animals being returned to their owners; and
WHEREAS, Animal Services strives to decrease euthanasia of animals except when necessary due to age, illness, injury or behavior; and
WHEREAS, Animal Services employees seek to practice safe and humane euthanasia procedures based upon guidelines set forth by the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA); and
WHEREAS, the West Valley City Council recognizes the hard work, compassion, and customer service displayed by the dedicated employees of the Animal Services Division, as they continually seek new and innovative ways to serve the needs of the animal community; and
WHEREAS, an essential component in obtaining and sustaining these objectives is cooperation, coordination, and communication with rescue groups and other interested parties to solicit, advertise and promote, volunteer or host events, programs, and other efforts to increase adoption of eligible animals.
NOW THEREFORE, the City Council of West Valley City, Utah does hereby call upon groups and individuals that are supportive of these stated goals to broaden their work and collaboration with West Valley City Animal Services to promote responsible animal ownership, increase adoptions, and decrease euthanasia.
FURTHERMORE, through these stated efforts the City Council proclaims a desire to attain a "No Kill Shelter" classification for the West Valley City Animal Shelter.