Legislation would require public disclosure of animal shelter information, including numbers of animals accepted and those euthanized

A Utah lawmaker is proposing to increase Utah’s animal shelter transparency by requiring monthly reports be made accessible to the public.

SB155, introduced by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, would mandate public reports detailing the number of animals taken in, how the shelter obtained each one, and the number of animals that died or were euthanized by the shelter during each calendar month.

Mayne said she hopes the bill will help increase communication and support between different shelters, community members and nonprofit groups on issues such as overcrowding.

“It’s just really good to have that data” Mayne told The Tribune in an interview. It would allow entities to “work together in animal control” and help the community make “good decisions” about such things as where best to allocate resources.

The bill has yet to have its first public hearing.

The Utah Animal Rights Coalition, for one, says it is in support of the increased transparency SB155 would require.

Amy Meyer, a board member of the nonprofit advocacy group, told The Tribune that the bill could “help increase public understanding of how these shelters are operating,” and of “the daunting animal overpopulation crisis” in Utah.

The coalition, Meyer said, already routinely monitors the same types of data the bill addresses, obtained through open-records requests. SB155 would make information easier to access.

She said she hoped increased transparency would call more attention to issues such as “the continued inhumane use of the gas chamber as a method of euthanasia” in Utah.

The coalition has identified two Utah County shelters that continue to use gas chambers.

A bill to ban the use of carbon monoxide as a method of euthanasia died in House Committee during the 2017 legislative session, with Utah County officials defending the practice in certain cases where they said shelter workers could otherwise be at risk of injury.

Meyer said she hopes that “if people are seeing these numbers” through reports required by the bill, public support could be marshaled to attempt to “ban the gas chambers.”