SALT LAKE CITY — There are animal lovers and then there are the likes of the late federal Magistrate Judge Ronald Boyce and his late spouse Coral Darlene Boyce.
This week, the Salt Lake County Council accepted the final installment of a $1.6 million gift to Salt Lake County Animal Services bequeathed by the couple’s trust. Income from the trust will fund an endowment fund named after the couple to support the agency’s animal adoption services.
“Gifts such as these help enhance the programs we have here and will help us do more for the animals in our care and our service to our community,” said Sandy Nelson, animal services marketing coordinator and spokeswoman.
The the majority of the gift was presented to the county in 2010 and has been earning interest since, Nelson said.
Salt Lake County Animal Services is currently considering the best options to direct the money to ensure more animals leave its shelter alive, meaning adoptions and reuniting lost pets with their owners, Nelson said. Between 7,000 and 9,000 animals enter the shelter each year, she said.
Last year, the county achieved a “91.5 percent life release rate,” Nelson said. “For the first time in our history, we’ve hit what is considered a 'no-kill status.'"
Some animals have to be euthanized because of serious injuries, illnesses or behavioral issues, but the vast majority leave the facility alive, she said.
Shelter officials also encourage people who adopt pets and later decide they do not want to keep them to return them to the county shelter.
“Otherwise we keep our animals and wait until they get homes. We give them love, treats, snuggle them and help them learn skills,” Nelson said.
The Boyces’ estate also made sizable gifts to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of Utah.
“They were animal lovers, which we absolutely love,” Nelson said.
Judge Boyce, a longtime professor in the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law, author and a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, died in 2002.
Coral Darlene Boyce, who reportedly married Boyce after just six dates, died in 2008. His obituary made mention of the couple’s beloved dogs Bobby and Jack.
The late U.S. District Court Judge David Winder, in his remarks at Judge Boyce’s memorial service, noted Boyce's love of reading and, of course, the couple's pets.
“He bought over $20,000 of various books per year, and unlike a lot of people who buy books for the impression it will create, Ron Boyce read what he bought. The house attests to this. Most of it is covered floor to ceiling with stacks of books. When we have visited Ron and Darlene, we mainly sit in the backyard between Bobby and Jack, their lovely Samoyed dogs, because there is insufficient room in the house.”