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Questions about an Animal Rescue

[Salt Lake Tribune - opinion]

You can't beat the feel-good factor of an army of volunteers fanning out across bomb-scarred Beirut, rounding up 300 homeless dogs and cats and airlifting them to a no-kill animal shelter in Kanab, Utah.

Best of all, the story has gut-wrenching video, which virtually assured its placement last Friday on the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" in a feature called "Assignment America." Best Friends Animal Society, sponsor of the $450,000 rescue of the stranded pets, could scarcely contain its excitement.

"Our expenditure may even go higher," says Best Friends president Michael Mountain of the early-September airlift. "Our aim is not simply to rescue 300 dogs and cats, but to help reconstitute the only humane society in the entire country of Lebanon."

Meanwhile in Utah, Salt Lake County Animal Services was investigating a rash of kitten abuse cases. The probe centers on a man who has adopted several kittens through newspaper ads, then allegedly tortured them and presented them to an ex-girlfriend for help. Authorities suspect it's the man's way of winning the woman's sympathy.

That's just the latest animal cruelty case making headlines. As for the pet overpopulation crisis, Utah's animal shelters never slack off. Last year the state euthanized 30,000 homeless pets.
...
He notes that members were asked to earmark their donations for the Beirut project.

What it apparently comes down to is Best Friends is so awash in cash that its work in Utah won't suffer a whit.

Which doesn't necessarily assuage others in the business. Temma Martin, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Animal Services, says bottom line, "these efforts hurt existing shelters."

"Instead of getting people interested in a shelter animal, it suddenly becomes a novelty to get an animal from Beirut," Martin says. "They've attacked a sliver of the problem, but we could have easily given them 300 animals from our shelter."

Blumental frames Best Friends' position a bit more sharply. "It's like buying a Mercedes when your kids have no shoes."

hmullen@sltrib.com

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full story:
http://www.sltrib.com/contentlist/ci_4468809
 

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