New center for ‘people and the animals to heal’ |

New center for ‘people and the animals to heal’

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Gandhi would be proud of Park City, claims Cathy King, president of Summit County Friends of Animals.

"Because as a society that’s judged by the way it treats its animals, all in all, Park City does a pretty good job," King said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Dogs are really a part of what goes on."

Still, she adds, for pet owners there is always room to improve. So the non-profit Friends of Animals is building a $1.3-million animal rescue and rehabilitation center west of Kamas to help educate people about properly caring for the pets.

"It’s a place for the people and the animals to heal," King said.

Citing studies from the Humane Society of the United States, King argued that children who mistreat animals are prone to violent behavior as adults.

"It’s all about non-violence," she said.

But Utah remains one of a handful of states where torturing an animal is not a felony, she lamented. State lawmakers rejected legislation in September dubbed "Henry’s Law," named after a black dog that was placed inside a 200-degree oven for five minutes.

The bill would have made animal cruelty a third-degree felony, which could have carried a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Henry’s abuser served about four months in jail after she was convicted of a misdemeanor.

Critics claimed the law would have provided animals with too many rights.

"The right to not being tortured to death, I think any living being deserves that right," King countered.

Some pet owners do not understand that "when you adopt a pet it is for the life of the pet," she said.

"A lot of people get a horse and they don’t know anything about horses. The horse suffers and they end up coming back to us in worse shape," King said. "What we’re really striving for is keeping the animals moving through the system. But the ones that may take a little bit longer or need a little bit more work, we have a place to do that."

With Friends of Animals currently crammed into a shop at Tanger Outlet Center, the new 15,000-square-foot rescue center will provide space to rehabilitate adoptable animals, she said, adding that adoptions will still occur at Furburbia at Kimball Junction.

"Summit and Wasatch counties have been no-kill for adoptable animals since 2004," King said, adding that her group facilitated more than 800 animal adoptions in 2006.

"We pull from the shelters in Wasatch County and Summit County," she said, adding that many more animals can be housed at the new building, situated on more than 100 acres with views of ski resorts and the Weber River.

At the adoption center workshops will stress animal safety, veterinary care and the humane treatment of pets.

"People are coming out of the woodwork wanting to get involved in this," King said. "It’s a place where people can come and spend time and ride the horses and walk the dogs." Primarily the facility will house dogs, cats and horses, she said.

The Friends of Animals group hopes to raise enough money this year to operate the center for the first two years, according to King.

Experts at the facility could help train children to treat animals well, she explained.

"Especially if they have been in abusive situations, there is a lot of healing," King said. "The problem of unwanted pets and euthanasia will not end until we can teach and educate especially the next generation."

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