SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to add transparency to animal shelters failed to clear a Senate committee meeting when questions were raised about the bill's need and requiring private shelters to comply.
SB155 would require public and private animal shelters to publish certain statistics they are already keeping track of, including how many cats, dogs and other animals are in the shelter and how many animals are being euthanized.
Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, the sponsor of the bill, said she introduced the bill for transparency and to get rid of the need for public records requests through the Government Records Access and Management Act.
"I think that it’s just an efficient way to do it and this is all public information, people should know," Mayne said.
Mayne said there is no cost to the government for this bill. The information is already collected and in some cases is already made public. However, other times it is only available through GRAMA requests. She also said every county has a website which could be used for reporting.
Talia Butler, division director for Salt Lake County Animal Services, said having the numbers available would be very valuable.
"We do a lot of adoptions at our shelter, and there are animals that are being euthanized at shelters in rural communities that could be adopted at our shelters. If those numbers are available and easily accessible, we can pull those animals," Butler said.
She said such a step would save the other shelters money because they would care for the animal for a shorter amount of time and give her shelter revenue when the animal is adopted.
Rhett Nicks, director of Davis County Animal Care and Control, spoke in opposition of the bill because of the requirement for private organizations to report. He also said the enforcement in the bill was "vague at best."
Nicks said he would be glad to support an animal care facilities act that would require shelters to report to a state agency and make sure shelters are licensed.Comment on this story
Salt Lake County Council member Arlyn Bradshaw said the county has already been making efforts to have information, including animal shelter statistics, public. He said posting the information in the office or sending out an email when the statistics are asked for would fill the requirements of the bill.
"We feel strongly that the core details of these taxpayer-funded services should be readily available to the public," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said private shelters were included in the bill at the encouragement of animal control officers who felt it would give a more holistic view of animal welfare.
The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee did not move the bill to the full Senate after a 4-4 vote.