That was the beginnings of what is now known as Friends of Animals Utah, a nonprofit organization that's goal is to "protect and provide for animals while fostering an awareness of their importance in our lives."
Throughout the decades, FOA Utah has established the Furburbia Adoption Center and has developed various programs that not only save animals from being euthanized, but also enhance people's lives, said Lisa Allison, executive director of the Friends of Animals Utah.
That's why it hosts the annual Miss Kitty's Barking Ball fundraiser, she said.
"Friends of Animals Utah depends on the support and dedication of the community so we can provide services," Allison said during an interview with The Park Record. "And while the town has been fully supportive of us, we do need to raise more funds to keep our facilities such as the rehabilitation ranch in Browns Canyon running."
This year's Barking Ball will be held at the Montage, Deer Valley on Saturday, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m.
"Every year it gets bigger and better," Allison said. "It's our signature event and it raises a significant amount of money for FOA Utah."
The event will feature a sit-down dinner for 280 people and include silent and live auctions.
"More than 150 auction items will be available," Allison, said. "We'll have artwork, jewelry, vacations, private dinners, libations, restaurant certificates. The business owners have been very good in supporting us."
Barking Ball attendees will learn what FOA Utah has done throughout the year through short presentations.
"We worked with a production company in town and took all the components and programs that we're about and put them into a video," Allison said.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Furburbia.
"Since Furburbia established in 2003, it has placed more than 12,000 pets into caring homes," Allison said. "That changed the face of our program because we really didn't have a center where we could showcase our adoptables."
Some of the other programs FOA Utah has established include the Purple Paw Project and educational outreach.
"The Purple Paw project is a domestic violence program that serves people who are in abusive relationships," Allison said. "It originally started with Peace House and then expanded throughout the state."
Many people will not leave an abusive relationship because they are scared about what may happen to their pets.
"So, we provide free support to domestic-violence shelters that can't take in pets," Allison said. "We had more than 800 nights of shelter within the first year. And we currently have 12 dogs being housed, which is the most we've had at any one time. We either keep the pets at the FOA Utah rehabilitation ranch in Brown's Canyon or foster them out. Whatever the pets' needs are, we accommodate them in the right environment.
"All the pets get any medical care then need," she said. "The pets can stay as long as they need and it's completely free."
The outreach programs are offered to elementary-school-aged students.
"These all started through a group of retired educators that went into second and fourth grades to teach about pet care and how to be a good pet owner and how to approach animals," Allison said.
The program has grown to reach 1,200 children last year.
"If we start teaching children humane education, as they grow, they become the adults who adopt and they can teach their children or their friends about pet care," Allison said.
Then there is the rehabilitation ranch that nurses abused and abandoned pets back to health.
"All the pets we take in get the medical help they need," Allison explained. "It's not just spaying and neutering. We do orthopedic surgeries, oral surgeries, teeth cleaning and have cared for pets with pneumonia and more."
FOA Utah not only takes in cute puppies and kittens from other shelters, but also pulls animals from euthanasia lists and places where the owners can't care for them anymore.
"The biggest thing that many people may not know is that we just don't serve northern Utah," Allison said. "We go as far as Moab and Kanab, and these pets have not just a second chance with us, but third and fourth chances."
Allison said the pets who find themselves in the hands of FOA Utah are lucky, because the people who volunteer for the organization truly love animals.
"We're always looking for people to walk dogs, socialize animals, cleaning litter boxes, working events, data entry — any task or skill a person has will be utilized even if its just one hour at a time," she said. "If you want to volunteer, visit our website (www.foautah.org)."
The Friends of Animals Utah annual Miss Kitty's Barking Ball will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, at Montage, Deer Valley, at 6 p.m. The evening will feature dinner, drinks, live music, auctions and prizes. The proceeds will benefit FOA Utah's programs such as the Purple Paw, Critter Camp and School Education Outreach. Tickets are $250 each or $2,000 for a table of 10. To register or for more information, visit www.foautah.org.