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SALT LAKE CITY — The North Shore Animal League America made a stop at the Utah Animal Adoption Center in Salt Lake City as part of its Tour for Life, hoping to bring awareness to the need for animal adoption.
"Our job is to, you know, expose the smaller shelters, bring them out there," said Vern Schumacher, who helps drive North Shore Animal League's bus around the country.
This year the bus is making 51 stops in 38 states through March and April to bring awareness to animal adoption needs. The bus has kennels where the animals can be seen from both inside and outside of the bus.
Schumacher said at some locations the organization uses the bus to bring animals from a shelter to the center of the city. On Friday the shelter's animals were placed in the bus, which was left it in front of the shelter, to help local residents notice it.
"It’s not just the story of this place, it’s a lot of the shelters. They’re on the outskirts of town, they’re in the industrial part of town, they’re in a part where people don’t really drive by or they drive by constantly and never see it," Schumacher said.
Jeff Morman, secretary of the board of directors for the Utah Animal Adoption Center, said although the event doesn't always bring more adoptions immediately, it will typically help bring awareness and more adoptions through the next months. He said the event provides advertising and an association with a larger animal adoption company.
"It does help," he said. "Advertising dollars are hard for us, we just can’t afford to do the advertising that a lot of these people do."
Morman said he has seven cats and a dog, Toby, who he adopted from the shelter. He and his wife have volunteered at the shelter for almost six years.
Michelle Wickster came to the shelter Friday to adopt two cats she has been fostering. Jessie, who was brought to the shelter because she was pregnant, was being adopted for Wickster's grandmother.
Jessie's kittens were placed in the bus Friday for others to consider adopting.
"I’m super excited that she’s going to my grandma because I love (Jessie), and now she doesn’t have to … go in the cat room with a bunch of other cats," Wickster said.
She said she adopted her first cat from the Utah Animal Adoption Center two years ago, and the staff at the center helped her pick a cat that would fit in her home. Wickster said all of her cats have been adoptions and she would rather rescue than purchase an animal.
"These people know their cats … they want to find one that works for you so that you don’t bring them back or you know it doesn’t work out," Wickster said.
She said Jessie's kittens will be adopted quickly, but as they get bigger it is sometimes harder to find them a home.
Schumacher said of all the shelters he has visited while on the Tour for Life, the Utah Animal Adoption Center is the nicest place for cats he has seen. He said if the shelter was more visible it would have more adoptions.
"They have the formula for cats. They have the sweetest cats I’ve seen, and I’ve been across shelters across the country to know that, so they’re doing obviously something right," Schumacher said.
Most of the cats at the shelter roam free in the cat room and are able to go outside on the "catio." Some cats wander the halls and others are in kennels for dietary needs or because they can't handle the stress of being with other cats, according to Cami Turpin, foster coordinator with the Utah Animal Adoption Center.
"There are plenty of places for them to go where they’re going to feel comfortable,” Turpin said, "we try to make their life as close to a home as possible, it’s still a shelter but it’s hopefully not as stressful."
Turpin said there is a lot of need for volunteers and people willing to foster and adopt the animals at the shelter.