Cache Humane Society, a local nonprofit once contracted by Logan to impound stray animals, now says the city isn't fulfilling its responsibilities.
Mayor Holly Daines described Logan’s relationship with Cache Humane as “tumultuous” and said the shelter was difficult to work with. Stacey Frisk, executive director of CHS, disagreed, stating that the relationship was like any other partnership.
CHS was contracted by the City of Logan to provide shelter for stray and lost animals for many years. In May 2018, Logan’s contract expired, leaving them in a difficult spot. In 2016, CHS switched to a no-kill shelter and needed to increase fees to pay for the cost. Additionally, CHS took issue with the withdrawal of Logan’s support for a trap neuter and return strategy for feral cats and stated that lowering fees, as the city asked, would lower the quality of care for animals.
“We'd continued to provide uninterrupted impound services to Logan city almost three months past their contract expiration while they searched for a less expensive provider,” Frisk said. “In the end, they demanded a sizable discount well below the cost to provide an acceptable level of care, and we recognized that additional negotiations would be unproductive. We offered to extend our services through Aug. 1; Logan city chose to end services immediately.”
A compromise could not be reached between the two and the city cut ties. For seven weeks following, the Logan City Police Department worked with Brigham City's Animal Control to shelter strays. About a year ago, Logan contracted Canyon View Cares Veterinary to house strays until the county shelter can be built.
Cache Humane charged Logan $15 a day for impounded animals, while Canyon View charges $12. Daines said that Canyon View has been more responsive and assisted the city when “we were in a difficult spot.”
John Drew, the president of the Cache Humane board and current mayor of Providence, said that cities often don’t work with nonprofits to shelter impounded animals, and few cities in Cache Valley still do. Logan was paying significantly less in taxes by using Cache Humane instead of municipal tax-funded shelters, he said.
“Taxpayers had a screaming deal with Cache Humane and services provided,” he said.
To shelter or not to shelter
Much of Cache Humane’s renewed criticism stems from Logan’s approach to sheltering — or not sheltering — stray animals.
On March 5, 2019, a public hearing was held to discuss the possibility of changing the language in Title 6A: Animal Control in the Logan Municipal Code. At the time, Chapter 6A.10 stated that “Animal control may place animals which are taken into custody in a designated animal shelter” and the ordinance questioned switching "may" to “shall.”
Both Nibley and Smithfield’s municipal codes state that Animal Control “shall” provide services to stray animals. This means that Animal Control is responsible for removing strays and impounding them. Using the language “may” means Animal Control can choose not to provide these services.
Ordinance 19-06 did not pass despite the support of several residents. The council's intent of keeping “may” instead of “shall” was to allow officers to return a pet to their owner instead of taking it to a shelter and give an officer flexibility when deciding what the best course of action would be.
However, the Utah Rabies Code requires any dog, cat, and ferret in Utah to be immunized against rabies by a licensed veterinarian and states that “local governments should establish effective programs to ensure vaccination of any dogs, cats, and ferrets and to remove strays and unwanted animals.”
Animal control is the responsibility of the Logan City Police Department. According to their website, it is the mission of LCPD's Animal Control to provide “safe, effective and humane care to domestic animals within the Logan City Limits.” Currently Animal Control has no protocol to store stray or feral cats due to “space requirements.”
Logan shifted its strategy to try to find animals’ owners through “Wayward Woof Alerts” on social media to reduce the need to shelter animals as much as possible. When necessary, animals are impounded at the Canyon View Cares Intake Facility.
A Cache County animal shelter is in the works and will be run by Canyon View. According to Canyon View’s website, the shelter will be able to house 600-700 animals. However, when CRSA Architect performed a needs assessment for the shelter, they found needs for sheltering over 4,000 animals per year within the next 10 years.
“Prior to the reduction in services, Logan Animal Control Officers picked up over 600 stray, lost, and abandoned pets per year. Based on available information, it does not appear the county facility will be large enough to accommodate Logan city's homeless pet population,” Frisk said.
In February, Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen told The Herald Journal the facility could be operational by the end of the year if construction starts in June, but said next spring is more realistic. Many are beginning to suspect the timeline will turn out longer.
The stray cat issue
Another issue Cache Humane Society has brought up is the city’s policy for stray and feral cats.
During the Bridgerland Audubon debate, Daines said the city provided services for cats and “do the best we can.” She denied the Audubon’s claim that the city had been without services for cats for the past three years and stated that Animal Control responds to cat calls, but cannot respond to all of them. Daines also claimed the city was not getting a significant number of complaints.
“We are not at the level we used to provide but we do have the service and do engage with the public when needed,” Daines said.
Logan has been vaccinating at least two cats a month for the last seven months as well as performing the "trap, neuter and release" program to sterilize animals, according to Daines.
Frisk stated that the Utah State Animal Shelter Pet Sterilization Act has been effective in reducing pet homelessness and she was concerned with the potential adoption of intact animals. The Utah Animal Welfare Act requires records be kept for all animals entering a municipal animal shelter — something CHS doesn’t think Logan is doing.
“We were unable to confirm an active spay/neuter program at the Logan City Animal Shelter and submitted a GRAMA request to determine sterilization status of animals leaving the shelter,” she said. “We have been unable to secure any of this data from Logan city.”
The response from the LCPD stated that the department was not set up to keep “statistics such as dates, locations, reason, or outcomes for each animal impounded.” That information is contained within police reports, which are more “narrative than fill-in.” The city told Cache Humane the nonprofit would have had to pay $23 an hour for someone to go through those reports and tabulate those statistics.
This concerned Frisk because Cache Humane has seen an increase in calls related to abandoned and lost animals. Currently, they receive about 40 cat-related calls per week. Frisk said that the city isn’t answering calls or picking up stray and feral cats, which is an issue because rabies are becoming a problem. Cache Humane euthanized six cats for rabies in the last year.
Infographics released from the LCPD state that the department is receiving 60-plus animal control calls a week.
Police Chief Gary Jensen said the LCPD has not received any rabies-related calls and that the city is giving each animal picked up three vaccinations: rabies, feline leukemia virus, and distemper.
“We are doing our due diligence and providing care for the animals in custody,” he said.
A man in Salt Lake City died of rabies in June. Bats are the main carriers of rabies, so if animals are not vaccinated and drag dead bats in, it can be detrimental for both the animal and the owner. Animals exposed to rabies have to be put down immediately, and without treatment, the human being exposed would eventually pass away.