SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Animal Adoption Center staffer Suzy Efthemes said she can usually tell almost immediately if two dogs are going to get along the first time they meet.
On Friday afternoon, Efthemes confirmed that one-eyed Shih Tzu adoptee, CeeCee, and Reideen Pratt’s Pekingese, Narla, were going to get along just fine.
"It’s about reading body language," Efthemes said. "They’re really not all that different from people.
That was great news for Pratt and her granddaughters, 3-year-old Kierra Haskins and 9-year-old Kimberly Pratt, who were at the adoption center to find a new friend for Narla.
"Our other Pekingese, Rocky, passed away about three months ago," Pratt said. "Narla has been missing him ever since and just moping around."
Neither Narla nor CeeCee appeared at all mopey on Friday as Pratt filled out the adoption paperwork for her new, four-legged family member, and Kierra and Kimberly played with the dogs.
Helping to coordinate connections like these after rescuing pets from Utah shelters that still employ euthanasia policies is at the heart of the work that the Utah Animal Adoption Center’s been doing since the ’80s, according to the center’s volunteer coordinator and board member, Jeff Morman.
"We take in animals that would be at-risk from shelters all over the state," Morman said. "And, encourage people who are looking to add a pet to their families to adopt, not shop."
Morman said the nonprofit center typically completes about 750 adoptions a year and keeps its operation functioning via grants, charitable donations and a lot of volunteer involvement.
"We have seven paid staffers, but volunteers put in around 4,000 hours each year," Morman said.
Kierra Haskins holds CeeCee for the first time during the North Shore Animal League America’s 2018 Tour for Life at the Utah Animal Adoption Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, April June 6, 2018. Haskins’ grandmother decided to adopt Celia. (Photo: Laura Seitz, KSL)
Morman said his organization works hard to connect with community members by participating in numerous outboard activities with other animal adoption groups and tries to boost interest through partnerships, like the one that brought New York-based North Shore Animal League America’s 2018 Tour for Life bus to the center’s Salt Lake facility on Friday.
The league has been working since the ’40s on behalf of pet welfare and, according to their website, is the "world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization." The Tour for Life effort, which will visit 50 cities in 37 states this year, works with local adoption centers around the country to help promote the work of no-kill operations and, ultimately, find homes for the pets that need them.
Both Efthemes and Morman said North Shore’s help, which included media outreach and advertising ahead of the visit, helps boost activity at the center.
Meanwhile, Pratt’s youngest granddaughter’s comments about grandma’s new dog seemed to confirm Efthemes assessment that, for their family, CeeCee was going to be a great match.
"She’s so cute," Kierra said. "I love her!"