Petition Closed
Petitioning City council member Mike Johnson and 6 others

Stop Allowing the Abuse at the Tooele, Utah Animal Shelter (TAS)


 January 2011 Purrfect Pawprints a rescue group met with Tooele Chief of Police, to address the inhumane treatment of the animals under current shelter management. This was not the first time the group had brought issues of inhumane treatment to the chief’s attention since 2008, yet nothing has been done. Animals continue to die daily under their watch and the adoption rate is nonexistent now that Purrfect Pawprints has been banned from the shelter. Prior to June 23, 2011 Purrfect Pawprints had 24/7 access and was close to achieving a "No Kill" status for the animal shelter.




Without the work and support of Purrfect Pawprints, the Tooele Animal Shelter has once again become a "high-kill facility" under the current practices of shelter management. The cruel reality is the mayor, chief and city council don’t care. Management does not even try to find homes for the animals. No calling of rescues or foster homes. In fact, when an animal is picked up and brought to the shelter, management has indicated it’s not their job to check for a microchip and the animal gets euthanized if the owners have not called the shelter to see if their animal was picked up.

Our goal is to get the word out to as many people as possible and prove to the mayor, the chief and city council members that people all over are watching and they are horrified by the way animals in the shelter are treated and that the current practices have been allowed to continue for years.

If you are in the Salt Lake City area, please check the Purrfect Pawprints Facebook page for the date we’re presenting our petition and findings to the city council and the mayor. The more people, the more they will realize people are determined to help these animals. No more euthanizing a cat because the budget doesn’t allow for purchase of more cat litter!

No matter where you live, please make your concerns known to the following individuals by phone, email or letter:

Mayor Dunlavy:

Chief Kirby:

City Council

Scott Wardle

Steve Pruden

Mike Johnson





Dave McCall



Shawn Milne



If you write, keep your letters succinct and respectful. Let the city leaders know that people from all over are condemning what is going on at the TAS and demand that changes listed in the petition be made. Remind them there is a viable alternative: make Tooele a no kill community.

Please speak your voice for all the animals living and dead. If you’ve already written, thank you. If you have more to say to city leaders – write again. Let them know we are watching and still horrified.



Warning- Graphic photo. Clover,  the female cat pictured was dropped off at the shelter early in the evening by a police officer. Shelter management was called and given the critical and urgent condition of the cat who had a cable embedded around her waist with severely infected open wounds and visible pain. Shelter management was supposed to come in that evening after the officer had placed the call to euthanize the cat. Instead, shelter management left the cat in the small box overnight with no food , water or litter box. The Tooele Chief of police simply called this " misscommunication" in a July article in Tooele Transcript newspaper.

 Purrfect pawprints found the cat at the shelter the next morning still in the box. The veterinarian who performed the surgery said the cable had been embedded around Clover’s waist for at least year. Clover is alive, doing well and was adopted by the veterinarian who performed the surgery. The photo is of Clover during her surgery right after the cable was removed.

Click to view other Tooele animal shelter photos. WARNING! Graphic photos!

Letter to
City council member Mike Johnson
City council member Dave McCall
City council member Scott Wardle
and 4 others
City council member Shawn Milne
Mayor Tooele city Mayor Dunlavy
City council member Steve Pruden scpruden
Chief of police, oversight of shelter Ronald Kirby
City leaders tout “Own Your Community” The time is long overdue for them to own theirs and stop hoping the abuse at the shelter will quietly go away as well as the public awareness.

Purrfect Pawprints, the public and animal advocates demand that changes be made now to end the inhumane treatment and abuse of animals at the Tooele Animal Shelter. Calls, letters, emails and ongoing media coverage will continue until the TAS becomes a safe, humane haven for animals. A kill rate of 88% is absolutely unacceptable unless every means has been sought to find animals homes and there is no other method. Shelter management is making no attempt and never has.

The mayor stated in a July 18, 2011 email to Christi Gaffney of Purrfect Pawprints, “Tooele City under my Administration has and will always be open and honest in our operations and policies, if correction is warranted it will be made. At the end of the day the important thing will remain, the care and treatment of animals under our care.”
Really? In the February 2011 State of City address, the mayor touted upgrades to the Oquirrh Hills Golf Course, a new permanent structure built at the golf course to accommodate awards and banquets following tournaments and a new large pavilion added to a city park. The city has acquired property for a new fire station on 1000 North and is in the process of negotiating for the last parcel of property needed to build a new police station on Garden Street.
If the mayor really does care about the humane treatment of animals at the Tooele Animal Shelter, then why does he appropriate money for non-essential buildings and upgrades to the city when animals being held at the shelter are getting sick from the substandard ventilation system? It most certainly doesn’t show in his 2011 budget priorities. Animals are being killed daily because the very outdated, substandard shelter structure does not allow for quarantine of sick animals and current management euthanizes if an animal sneezes.
Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be determined by the ways it treats its animals." In this regard the mayor, chief and city leaders have failed miserably. The fact that it’s more important to upgrade a golf course and even add a non-essential building to that same golf course says it all.

It’s time to appropriate money for desperately needed changes to the facility, implement new programs and permanently remove the current shelter manager. In 2005, the shelter budget in his first year as mayor was $206,721.In 2011, it’s $221,937, only $15,216 more than six years ago. Over the six years the mayor who cares so much about animals has been in office, the shelter budget has increased by only $2,536 yearly. The numbers speak for themselves as to how the mayor and city leaders prioritize the care and treatment of animals under their care.


Shelter management kills animals that are not medically hopeless and suffering or have been declared a danger to society by a qualified party. Sick animals do not need to be killed to prevent spreading, but currently the shelter facility does not have a separate quarantine area for sick animals. Before Purrfect Pawprints was banned from the shelter, they would place sick animals in the care of foster homes until they were ready for adoption. The current practice by shelter management is no reason for murder.
Not only does shelter management not give sick animals a chance to find a home, but they invite disease by failing to vaccinate all incoming animals as per standard disease prevention protocol, remove dogs and cats from cages during cleaning as per standard disease prevention protocol, keep cats separated from the sight, sound and smell of dogs in order to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease and failure to provide exercise for dogs to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease. By current shelter management practices, the shelter is nothing more than a brief holding place for murder.
No dog or cat should ever be euthanized as long as there are cages available. Killing animals to make room for animals that may or may not come in is unacceptable. Killing those animals before room is absolutely needed gives them less time to find a home. The incredibly high kill rate of the shelter is not something to brag about and is a dark stain on the face of the community.
The killing of animals that have never been made available to the public for adoption, rescue or foster is unfair and wrong. It doesn’t give animals a chance and marks them for certain death that could have been spared if management had only taken the time. Management has said it’s not their job to make themselves available during hours that are conducive to increasing the animals’ chances for adoption. That type of mindset is a guaranteed prescription for daily killing and a very high kill rate.
As the high kill rate continues, so does the inhumane treatment and improper handling of the animals at the hands of current shelter management. A well-known fact is that harm to any animal, threatened or real, is often used as a means of control by the abuser.

1. Investigations that only serve to cover-up the real truth, keep reputations and images untarnished and do “damage control” will not stand! We demand a new outside investigation be done instead of the internal one conducted by the chief who has direct oversight of the shelter and a 2nd investigation conducted by Humane Society of Utah. These investigations were based solely on talking to the shelter manager and no other previous and current employees or volunteers. These investigations didn’t reach a truthful conclusion when employees and volunteers who have directly witnessed inhumane treatment and abuse have never been interviewed. The truth always lies in witnesses and not in the perpetrator.

2. We demand the current shelter manager be permanently removed and replaced with a new manager through fair hiring practices. Replace shelter management with someone who has the best interests of the animals at heart and brings extensive experience and credibility to the shelter and the City of Tooele. One who will adhere to state euthanasia laws and TAS Policies and Procedures, exercise humane treatment of the shelter animals at all times and who works well with people to decrease the excessive turnover rate of shelter employees. The current manager was hired 2006 and had absolutely no experience in animal control and management. Another candidate who was a Tooele City Animal Control Officer at the time interviewed for the shelter manager position and was not hired though Tooele Human Resources uses a point system for hiring.

3. We demand that Purrfect Pawprints be given full-time permanent access to the Tooele Animal Shelter as they have had since 2008. The group is a nonprofit animal rescue that had worked tirelessly with the shelter since 2008 and was suddenly banned June 23, 2011 after they spoke out once again against the inhumane treatment of the shelter animals. This is costing the lives of shelter animals being euthanized daily and thousands in city money. Restricted access also keeps from public view the ongoing inhumane treatment that has and continues at the shelter under current management. Here’s what the ban is costing the animals, the City and taxpayers:

a. With the ban 0 City and taxpayer money saved; since January 2011, Purrfect Pawprints has volunteered over 750 service hours to the Tooele Animal Shelter, saving taxpayers, the City and shelter the cost of hiring 1 full-time employee. And most important, 280 lives have been saved!

b. With the ban 0 shelter animals are being saved; since January 2011 over 130 dogs and over 150 cats have been pulled and adopted from the shelter through Purrfect Pawprints. With the assistance of Purrfect Pawprints, the shelter had come much closer to being a “no-kill facility.” When Purrfect Pawprints does adoptions 3 volunteers work 12 hours over the weekends, socializing the animals and posting each animal online to increase their chances of going to a forever home.

c. With the ban 0 shelter animals are being spayed/neutered; when an animal is pulled it can’t be returned to the shelter.

d. With the ban 0 animals are receiving free vaccinations and treatment for injuries at Broadview University.

e. With the ban 0 volunteer service hours are allowed through Purrfect Pawprints to transport animals to be spayed/neutered, to the college for free vaccination and treatment of injuries, adoption events and treatment of sick animals.

4. We demand web cams be installed at the shelter to monitor all interaction with the animals.

5. We demand the shelter be made a higher priority on the city’s 2012 budget while making changes to the infrastructure for better ventilation and animal quarantine, new adoption
programs, better publicized spay/neuter programs and shelter hours that accommodate people who want to visit and adopt.

6. We demand that oversight and management of the Tooele Animal Shelter be removed from the police department and brought under the management and oversight of Tooele City Public Works. Statistics have long proved that when management and oversight of an animal shelter is under the auspices of law enforcement, the record for humane treatment of animals and sound fiscal management is dismal at best. It’s viewed as a nuisance and the kill rate is never questioned. The record of Tooele Animal Shelter under management of law enforcement and the current chief puts it in line with the worst of the shelters in the Southeast where law enforcement has direct management and oversight of a shelter.

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