Grantsville-based rescue, “Happy Tails at Pegasus” hopes to save all the dogs they can and give them a second chance at life.
The rescue located on Race Street currently houses 15 dogs of various breeds who have been saved from shelters, bad situations, and owners who could no longer care for them. Most of the dogs are adoptable and waiting patiently for their “furever” homes.
Happy Tails at Pegasus sits on just over 100 acres of prime farmland in eastern Grantsville and is run by owners Evan and Jaime Topham and volunteers Chey Hickman and Brooklyn Patino.
The rescue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and was created in 2018 after Evan and Jaime, two avid dog lovers, realized they had a big enough property to help save local dogs.
“Our vet is Joe Roundy and we used him for all of the animals we had before the rescue,” Evan explained. “When we were there as clients, we noticed there were dogs that were up on their stray hold that were about to be euthanized. There was a mom and her puppies who were there, and we noticed that their due date was up, so we adopted them out to my friend. We were able to help Roundy adopt a few others out, but we weren’t officially a rescue at this point. We were just trying to save dogs. We realized that we had the resources, room, and knowledge to open a rescue. We didn’t set out to be a rescue, but we realized that we could be.”
After the idea for the rescue, Evan and Jaime came up with a unique name.
“Happy Tails is kind of like ‘happy trails,’” Evan explained. “We made a word play on that. We got Pegasus from my mother and father-in-law. My mother-in-law was into horses and my father-in-law flew helicopters in the Army, so we thought about flying and horses, and a flying horse is a Pegasus.”
Evan and Jaime are the owners and Hickman manages the rescue’s social media and networks the dogs hoping to find them loving homes. Patino, the rescue’s other volunteer, visits each day to help Hickman walk the dogs around the property.
“I’ve always had a passion for dogs,” Hickman said. “It’s always been my thing. This is my dream job right here to be able to find them homes.”
The owners and volunteers work with the Grantsville City and Tooele County shelters to help save as many dogs as possible, but they are limited to 15 dogs at a time.
In 2019, they made a deal with the county and the Tooele County Sheriff’s Department to pull every dog they could from the county shelter. If they are unable to rescue a dog from the shelter, they contact Best Friends Animal Society who in turn rescues the dog.
They also have rescued dogs from the Tooele City animal shelter, Weber County, Wendover, Salt Lake County, and Utah County.
“We went down to Wendover to pick up a dog for a rescue out of Oregon and there was another dog there,” Evan explained, talking about one of the dogs they rescued. “The other dog there with her was scheduled to be euthanized the next day. We knew we couldn’t leave him there by himself in the shelter. We knew we had to bring him to our rescue.”
“We’ve done everything we can to save every dog,” Hickman added.
Less commonly the rescue receives owner surrenders from people who are no longer able to care for their pets.
“We wish we could do more,” Evan said.
Taking care of the dogs takes a lot of time and energy.
“Any extra hours we have go towards the dogs,” Evan said.
One challenging aspect of the rescue is taking care of aggressive dogs, according to Evan.
“Dealing with either dog-aggressive dogs or people-aggressive dogs is a challenge,” he said. “There are some that have overcome being dog-aggressive by us working with them. If they’re dog-aggressive, we separate them, but some of these dogs are going to be here forever. This is their sanctuary; but some of them we can help through it and they become adoptable.”
People-aggressive dogs have often been abused and come into the rescue with the memories of their abuse.
“We take the time and try to create a bond and work with a trainer,” Hickman said. “Right now, we have three of them who are people-aggressive and I’ve gotten through to two of them, but one of them, Abby, only trusts Evan. No one else can get near her.”
Evan enjoys the payoff that comes from working with and loving the dogs.
“I love seeing dogs that had no real future get to be in a loving home,” he said. “We love seeing dogs get a second chance, because some don’t.”
Hickman, who has been volunteering with the shelter since June has enjoyed her time creating bonds with the dogs.
“I love spending time with the dogs,” she said. “I love getting to know their different personalities and making a difference in their lives.”
Prior to the rescue, the property belonged to Jaime’s parents who retired to Ecuador in 2013 and left the property to their daughter and Evan.
Jaime and Evan live on the property and Jaime operates a law office on the property. They also house 75-80 horses and run a boarding, training, and event facility called “Pegasus Event Center” on the property. They have been running the event center since Jaime’s parents retired.
Some of the horses that live on the property are rescues and will live there for the rest of their lives.
“These horses were rescued from terrible situations, and this is where they come to spend the rest of their lives,” Hickman said, speaking about the sanctuary horses.
There are also several feral cat colonies, lamas, goats, sheep, chickens, and a turkey on the property.
To meet dogs up for adoption, please visit happytailsatpegasus.org and fill out in inquiry form, call 435-830-3971, or email email@example.com.
Those who are interested in adopting typically visit with the dog at the rescue and go through a pre-adoption trial.
“They take the dog home and keep them for a couple weeks,” Hickman explained. “If it’s a good fit, they come back, fill out the adoption paperwork, and pay the $200 adoption fee. If it doesn’t work out, no harm, no foul. They can just bring them back.”
Rescue workers want to encourage everyone who can provide for a dog to adopt one.
“All of these dogs need a home,” Evan said. “They all need somewhere to feel safe. They all feel safe here, but they all deserve a bed and a home.”
“If you rescue a rescue dog, they may just rescue you,” Hickman added.
Donations to help keep the rescue running can also be made on the website and are appreciated. Because the rescue is a nonprofit, they rely on donations to be able to stay in business.
“We are trying to make a difference, and I think we are,” Evan said.