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Mike Radice, Deseret News
Tootsie the cat was reunited with her owner, Sheriden Hansen, during the No-Kill Utah Adoption Weekend at the Utah State Fairpark on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

SALT LAKE CITY — Perhaps French poet, journalist and author Anatole France put it best: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

A part of Sheriden Hansen's soul was awakened by her cat, Tootsie, who went missing five years ago. Though Hansen gave up the official search for her cat, she said a part of her always held out hope that she would find Tootsie.

When Hansen saw the No-Kill Utah Adoption Weekend Facebook event page Saturday, she scrolled through nearly 600 pictures of animals before she saw Tootsie.

"I started to cry, and I don't think I've stopped till now," Hansen said Saturday afternoon.

Tootsie was one of more than 420 animals adopted through the No-Kill Utah Adoption Weekend, sponsored by the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at the Utah State Fairpark on Friday through Sunday. It is part of the No-Kill Utah initiative launched in March that aims to save a combined 90 percent of the animals that come into the state's shelters.

Best Friends spokeswoman Temma Martin said people who are looking for an animal should adopt from shelters rather than buy from a breeder, pet stores or online to help reduce the number homeless pets.

Animals from shelters seem to realize "they have been given a second chance," Martin said. As a result, "they absolutely reward their families with a lifetime of unconditional love."

Those who were unable to attend to the adoption event can find a shelter animal at petfinder.com.

Other than some arthritis in her paws, Tootsie was healthy and seemed eager to be home.

"She grabbed onto me and would not let go. For having no claws, she had a pretty good grip," Hansen said.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7