"Gateway is an ideal location," Animal Services Director April Harris told the County Council on Tuesday. "It has a built-in audience with all of the housing [there] and more housing going up in surrounding areas. This will be reaching a demographic that Animal Services is not currently serving."
Best of all, it would be free.
The mall's owners have offered the county free rent this year on a 4,500-square-foot unit, Harris said, on the second floor of the open-air mall, next to Sanctuary Day Spa, overlooking the Olympic fountain.
Depending how things go this year, she said in her executive summary to the council, next year's lease could be free again or quite low cost. The deal lets the pet adoption center take advantage of Gateway's advertising campaigns and to use Union Pacific Depot and public spaces such as the fountain area for free.
The unit's windows also are shaded, encouraging displays, Harris noted. So passers-by can wonder "how much is that doggy in the window?"
Why would mall owners be so magnanimous?
Harris offered a couple of thoughts. For one, she said, "they'll get a lot of foot traffic. This is really a demographic no mall in Utah is really grabbing. Seventy percent of Utahns have pets."
But the company's heart is there along with its business interests, she added. "They like the entire concept of saving animals' lives."
Scott Bennett, general manager at The Gateway, cautioned that "no agreements or plans have been finalized," but acknowledged that operators are "exploring the possibility of hosting a temporary animal adoption center at The Gateway." The mall, he added, "has a long tradition of supporting local nonprofit groups and community organizations."
An adoption center is different than a shelter. Animals cannot be dropped off there and strays will not be held there, Harris said. "[It] will only have adoptable animals."
County Council members all have dogs, some have cats, too embraced the concept after a county financial team found that Animal Services' profit-making expectations at the site were reasonable. The adoption center is budgeting $53,000 from pet sales the rest of this year, then $90,000 all of next year, along with $118,000 in product sales.
The council released $157,000 to cover transition costs and also approved a revised adoption fee schedule, going to a rate of $50 for cats, $100 for large dogs and $150 for small dogs and puppies.
Banner of support
"Remembering Boston 2013," a giant banner signed by upward of 10,000 people affiliated with Saturday's Salt Lake City Marathon, made the rounds of government offices Tuesday.
Marathon spokesman Carter Livingston displayed it for both the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County councils at their respective meetings and thanked the officials for the support they and their law enforcement agencies provided.
"Public safety agencies stepped up big time," he told the County Council. "Obviously, the [deadly bombing] in Boston put a spotlight on Salt Lake County. Fifty to 60 press from around the world were here watching us. I wouldn't say it was a beautiful day for a race, but it was a beautiful race. The spirit of Boston was there."
The banner soon will be "rolled up and sent to our friends in Boston," Livingston added.
Salt Lake County Animal Services has revised its adoption-fee schedule, which had ranged from free to $295. New fees are $50 for a cat, $100 for large dogs and $150 for small dogs and puppies.