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West Valley City leaders to join call for no-kill animal shelter

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 4:11 a.m. MDT

A view looking out from the gas chamber at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. Layne Morris, Community Preservation Department director for West Valley City, is interviewed in the background. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) A view looking out from the gas chamber at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. Layne Morris, Community Preservation Department director for West Valley City, is interviewed in the background. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY CITY — The West Valley City Council plans to join Taylorsville city leaders in calling for the two cities' animal shelter to work toward becoming a no-kill facility.

A proclamation has been prepared that would formally state the City Council's "desire to attain a no-kill shelter classification," adding that the city "strives to decrease the euthanasia of animals except when necessary due to age, illness, injury or behavior."

The council is expected to approve the proclamation Tuesday.

The shelter at 4522 W. 3500 South has been the subject of controversy in recent months following allegations that its carbon monoxide chamber hasn't functioned properly, resulting in animals surviving gassings.

Layne Morris, Community Preservation Department director for West Valley City, discusses the gas chamber, background left, at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Layne Morris, Community Preservation Department director for West Valley City, discusses the gas chamber, background left, at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

City officials say issues that have led to animals being put through the chamber more than once were caused by employee error, not equipment malfunction, and have been addressed by shelter management through additional training.

Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall used his State of the City address on Feb. 1 as an opportunity to challenge the shelter to "seriously consider alternate solutions to animal euthanasia of any type, except when it is absolutely unavoidable."

"To that end, I would propose that we commit to certification as a no-kill animal shelter by the year 2015," Wall said. "With the help of volunteer groups who are ready and willing to help, I think this is an attainable goal."

West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle previously has said a no-kill shelter is not realistic for the city because of the large feral cat population.

The gas chamber at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter has been the subject of controversy recently. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The gas chamber at the West Valley City/Taylorsville Animal Shelter has been the subject of controversy recently. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

In an open letter posted on the city's website, Pyle states that the city has been working "to find common ground for improving the services" at the shelter.

"We have been working with representatives of the animal welfare community to improve ways that we can move toward the goal of reducing euthanasia and increasing adoptions," the letter states. "These meetings are bearing fruit and will include specific steps such as increasing shelter hours and participation in adoption events, among others."

At the direction of the City Council, city staff earlier this month drafted a resolution of support for the city's Animal Services Division — including a declaration that the use of carbon monoxide is "humane and acceptable in the difficult task of euthanasia."

The City Council opted to avoid the hot-button issue of lethal injection vs. carbon monoxide by replacing the proposed resolution with its proclamation. As proposed, the proclamation doesn't reference methods of euthanasia and instead focuses on ways to reduce the need for them.

The animal shelter is operated by West Valley City but also serves Taylorsville.

An informational packet regarding the shelter's euthanasia policies, including its responses to allegations of gas chamber malfunctions, can be downloaded at www.wvc-ut.gov/euthanasia.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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