Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Julie Higgins gives a treat to Honey at the Tooele City Animal Shelter. Several dogs at the shelter have been waiting months to find permanent homes.

January 7, 2014
Tooele animal shelter hopes to find new owners for homeless canines

Tooele animal control officials are hoping anyone thinking about getting a new furry friend will consider some of their long-term residents.

Three dogs have been at the Tooele City Animal Shelter for more than a month and a half—an unusual amount of time for homeless pets to stay at a shelter, said Julie Higgins, animal control officer with Tooele City.

“Dogs come in here, we hold them for five business days, and after that time they’re ours, so we get to do pretty much what we want with them,” he said. “Most places, the bigger shelters, they euthanize them, because it’s space. For us, if I have space, lucky dogs. If I get one that gets adopted, we can bring another one in. It saves the life of the one that’s been in here for three months.”

While none have been at the shelter waiting for adoption for three months, there are some canines who have called the shelter “home” for a long time, especially in dog years. Lola, a year-old black lab mix, has been at the shelter and available for adoption since the end of October.

“She used to be kind of timid, but she’s actually come out of her shell,” Higgins said. “I try to do socializing with them, as far as other dogs, because that’s one of the main questions the rescues will ask: how do they get along with other dogs and cats?”

Higgins said some of the dogs, especially the ones brought to the shelter when they were younger, were not as well trained as some of their peers from more structured environments, making it tougher for them to get adopted. Coca, a chocolate lab mix of about eight months, has been available for adoption since Nov. 14., and is friendly but high energy and has lacked training.

“She’s grown up in here, so, manners-wise, it’s just difficult,” Higgins said. “She’s probably known a home one time when she was young, but she’s still a young dog.”

While a few dogs are surrendered by their owners, most, including Coca and Lola, are picked up or brought in as strays. Honey, a 10-month-old yellow lab mix, was picked up by a concerned passerby who saw the animal running on the highway near Wendover and brought her to the Tooele City Shelter instead of the Tooele County facility by mistake.

Although the days have stretched into weeks and now months for some dogs, Higgins said she tries to keep friendly animals as long as possible to give them a chance to find the right family.

“I’m going to hang onto them because they’re nice dogs. There’s nothing wrong with them. I mean, yeah, they’ve got lots of energy and they need some training, which is what I tell people when they come for them,” she said. “Some are in for a couple of days and adopted, so that gives her a chance to stay a little long. As long as I’m not full—if I’m full, I have to euthanize them.”

The shelter works with animal rescue groups to find homes for dogs and cats, as well as posts pictures of available pets on the shelter’s Facebook page. Higgins said sometimes the right fit for people and pets comes unexpectedly.

“It’s so funny, because you’ll have them in here for months and months and months, and then somebody will come in and be like, ‘I want that dog,’” said Higgins. “Everybody kind of has their own special dog that they want, so something that I would be like, ‘Wow, no,’ would be great for them.”

For more information on any pets available for adoption at the Tooele City Animal Shelter, call 435-882-4607.

Lisa Christensen

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Lisa covers primarily crime and courts, military affairs, Stansbury Park government and transportation issues. She is a graduate of Utah State University, where she double-majored in journalism and music, and Grantsville High School.

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