"I'll take that one. He's already box-trained," said one woman as the orange kitten did his duty in a litter box at the rear of the downtown ZCMI store window.
Despite what he may have considered an impertinent audience, the tabby finished his business and rejoined his two buddies, who were clambering over a miniature castle.Meanwhile, three older cats snoozed or sat pensively in the next window and six puppies of unknown heritage cavorted in the two windows down the way.
These were the first 12 of the "adorable adoptable animals" featured by the Humane Society of Utah in its latest effort to find homes for the homeless. A new group of animals will be shown at the store each day through Nov. 12, said Katharine Brant, development director for the society.
By 1 p.m. Monday, about a dozen of the window shoppers had expressed serious interest in taking one of the dogs or cats home, Brant said. But the society asked them to think it over and come back that evening if they still wanted to go ahead.
Those who do decide to add a member to their households must pay $25 for a male cat, $30 for a female cat, $35 for a male dog or $40 for a female dog to cover the cost of spaying or neutering and the first set of shots, Brant said.
For that price they also get a collar, an ID tag, a leash or carrier and a sack of pet food.
In an effort to make sure the animal will be treated well, the society has prospective owners fill out a questionnaire. It asks such things as whether the animal will live inside or out; who will care for it at vacation time; and how problems like barking and scratching will be handled.
"You have to be prepared to make a commitment in terms of time, effort, dedication," said Brant, "and so that's why we're kind of fussy about checking out these owners."
She said the Utah society has to kill about 85 dogs and 90 cats every day at its shelter but would rather kill an animal than allow it to be mistreated.
ZCMI is helping with the program by selling stuffed dogs at a discount and donating 50 cents to the society for each dog sold, said Fay Shifflett, the company's special events coordinator.