Animal shelter transparency bill fails in committee; senator looks forward


A bill that would have created more transparency in Utah animal shelters failed to make it past committee Monday, Feb. 25. Sen. Karen Mayne, D-Kearns, who sponsored the bill, said she hopes to push a similar bill forward in the future.

SB155, titled Animal Shelter Transparency Amendments, would have required private and public animal shelters to publish information about their animals monthly, including the number of animals they have, how they obtained each animal and the disposition of each animal, including their age and health.

According to Mayne, shelters already compile this information, but SB155 would require shelters to publish the information online to make it easier to access.

“This is public information, so it should be easier for people to see,” she said. “And it didn’t fail because of a cost issue, because the info is already there.”

Salt Lake County Animal Services Captain Robert Lewis said he thinks passing a similar bill in the future would solve many problems shelters face.

“Transparency in the government is expected in the community,” Lewis said.

Talia Butler, a division director for Salt Lake County Animal Services, said the shelter has no problem finding homes for animals in Salt Lake County, but rural communities have a much harder time.

She said if this information was made public, then rural shelters would know where to send animals if they had too many and busier shelters could help find homes for them.

“Having these numbers available publicly has an extremely high value for shelters,” Butler said.

While some were disappointed to see SB155 fail, Davis County Animal Shelter Director Rhett Ricks said he had concerns about the bill from the beginning.

“Coercing private and public organizations into providing data for the purpose of a public sector agenda is a little troublesome,” he said. “Also, the mechanism for enforcement is vague at best.”

Though it didn’t pass this session, Mayne said she hopes to continue to work toward a similar bill in the future that more legislators could support.

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