Best Friends Blog

BREAKING: Utah governor signs Best Friends BDL preemption bill

What an amazing week for Utah’s animals! Over the weekend, we launched No-Kill Utah (NKUT), the initiative to take the entire state of Utah to a collective 90 percent save rate. The response has been phenomenal, as we knew it would be, including an editorial endorsement from the Salt Lake Tribune supporting no-kill as a policy. To our knowledge, this is a first for a major American paper to officially endorse no-kill in this way.

Now we received word this afternoon that Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed House Bill 97, the Best Friends bill that would prohibit any local government in the state from enacting breed-discriminatory legislation. As a citizen of Utah, you have the right to own any dog you choose, including a pit-bull-terrier-like dog, without the fear of your family pet being impounded simply because of breed.

There are a lot of people to thank on this one, starting with Utah Representative Brian King. Rep. King has been a tireless advocate for this law, and led the fight within the halls of the Utah State Capitol. We also have to thank Bradley Sidle, an advocate for pit-bull-terrier-like dogs. He did an amazing job of educating Rep. King on this issue, and he helped kick-start this entire process. And, of course, Senators Okerlund and Dayton who helped usher this through on the Senate side of the Capitol.

All of the Best Friends staff involved in this also deserve praise … from senior legislative attorney Ledy VanKavage, who has racked up some impressive wins, to others on her team, including Laura Handzel. We also had great support from so many other staffers like Melissa Lipani, a valued member of the Best Friends social media team. She brought her very own ambassador Captain Cowpants. Certainly lawmakers couldn’t help but be persuaded once they’d met him.

And, of course, thank you to every single Best Friends supporter who took action on the many alerts we sent out related to HB97. Your voice matters tremendously!

This is a major step forward for the animals in Utah. Killing animals based on appearance doesn’t make communities any safer.

If you’re not signed up to receive action alerts when you’re needed where you live, you can do that by clicking here. This has been a fantastic legislative season, and we’ll need you not just next year, but year-round!

Julie Castle
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Juliet Piccone

    I’m an animal attorney in Colorado. Do you know if Utah has home rule cities and how that could affect the law? Our state law passed in 2004 was ruled unenforceable against home rule cities which include Denver and Aurora.

    • jondunn

      Hi Juliet,

      Good question! Neither Utah nor South Dakota have home rule so it’s not an issue in either place. We have a similar bill working through the legislature in MO. They do, so the bill actually has a provision that would effect home rule cities.

      You can see how the bill in MO is worded here:


      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

  • Joanna McGinn

    BF is the worst enemy of those who wish to enjoy their homes and neighborhoods and community in peace and security. SHAMDE ON YOU to promote a breed KNOWN for hits breeding to attack to kill and maim. The problem is that you promote this mutant dog without real knowledge and understanding of the underground prison gangs that breed them to be bigger, stronger,, more ‘game’ Fourteen (14) deaths due to Pit Bulls this year so far… one every 6 days! 3 last weekend alone. You would rip each community’s ability to decide for itself what is appropriate and what is not. Just remember now that every death, every maiming, every hospital bill should be laid directly at your door. SHAME on YOU ALL

  • Anne

    It doesn’t take 5+years to become NO KILL. NO KILL can start today. Why so long. I leads meeting to believe that this “pledge” is a smoke screen.

    • MelissaLMiller

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your note. What we’re talking about here is the entire state of Utah–all 85,000 square miles! While the decision to take on a no-kill set of programs can be made overnight, the implementation of them takes time. We’re working with 59 different shelters that serve hundreds of communities in every area of the state. While 23 communities are currently at or near a 90% save rate, that leaves a majority that are not yet there; some still are resistant to the lifesaving programs. We fully believe we can reach the statewide goal in under five years.

      I hope this helps to answer your question. Thanks for all that you do to help homeless pets!

      Melissa Miller
      New Media Coordinator

  • Keri Caraher The Canine Stars

    We are looking forward to visiting the AWESOME state of Utah for it’s State Fair in September…and performing there with our Pit Bulls in the Frisbee and Dock Diving shows! Congratulations Utah!!!

  • Fayclis

    Kudos to Best Friends, Ledy , Brian King the Governor and ALL those who helped to make this new legislation happen. Utah now ROCKS.

  • Jennie Walker

    what a great result !!! if only this could happen here in Australia Way to go Utah GREAT JOB PEOPLE

  • Dakota Verlyn Gubler

    Now we just need to stop enterprise from shooting dogs it inhumane