Category Archives: Uncategorized

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum Removes Pork Industry Propaganda

This is a guest blog by UARC member and supporter Lexi Purrington.

A couple weeks ago, I visited Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum with my mother and my 9-month-old son. During this trip, I was beyond disappointed to see a disturbing and misleading exhibit sponsored by the pork industry. This exhibit was not “educational” by any means. It was blatant corporate propaganda that has no business in a children’s museum.

Pigs are crammed into tiny cages on factory farms because it is more profitable to raise them in such inhumane conditions, but the sign stated that they were kept indoors to “protect them.” Even though pigs have their lives violently taken from them, the sign also said the “delicious” meat was “provide[d]” by the animals.

My son is vegan, and in our family we will teach him values of compassion and kindness towards animals. Thankfully, he is not yet old enough to understand the exhibit. But I had to wonder how many other kids had seen it. The sign wasn’t necessary nor educational, and it disturbed me, to say the very least.

Later that day, I wrote to Discovery Gateway to express my concerns as a vegan parent. I received a message back stating they were planning on updating their farm area in the future and would keep me updated. Honestly, I never expected much to come of it, so I went on with my days and avoided yet another place that exploited animals. I was pleasantly surprised when the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum followed up with me a few days later to inform me that the sign had been removed.

I couldn’t believe it! I had never been the type to write a complaint because I always figured I couldn’t make a difference just by doing so, but here I am today with a huge smile on my face knowing that something so simple can. If you see something that you feel is wrong, take the time to speak up. Never be silent in the face of any injustice.

I’d like to personally thank Discovery Gateway for valuing my opinion and taking action. It’s a fantastic museum and I’m thrilled to be able to go back and enjoy it with my family.  No matter how small a victory, things add up. We are so much more powerful than we know.

Lexi Purrington is a vegan nutritionist, mother, personal trainer and animal lover based out of Salt Lake City.

12-year-old Organizes Fundraiser for UARC

When she wasn’t busy running (and beating the boys) in track tournaments, volunteering at the Humane Society of Utah, or building solar panels and helping stray dogs on a Navajo reservation, 12-year-old Addie spent her time this summer organizing a fundraiser for UARC.

Addie called UARC to tell us she wanted to do a fundraiser, and asked more about our mission. She loves animals, and was anxious to help. Before we knew it, Addie called 48 businesses and secured several donations from places like Megaplex and the Utah Grizzlies. She created packages from the donations, and organized an opportunity drawing outside of Harmon’s in Taylorsville. Not only did she raise $145 for UARC that day, she also likely saved one dog’s life, who was inside a shopper’s car on the 95-degree day. Addie knew exactly what to do and called Animal Services, who came out and helped the dog.

I had the privilege of meeting Addie when she delivered the money she raised. As someone who has organized countless silent auctions, I am blown away at Addie’s commitment and success at running this fundraiser completely on her own initiative and without any additional support from us. I’ve never met a more organized, compassionate, go-getter. And she’s only 12.

We can all follow Addie’s inspirational example by volunteering. Whether it’s organizing a fundraiser, walking the dogs at a local shelter, helping UARC at SLC VegFest, or cleaning up a trail, we can all do more to make the world a better place.

Thank you, Addie, for all that you do to help animals!


Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) is celebrating today after the United States Federal Court for the District of Utah declared Utah’s “ag-gag” law unconstitutional. Utah’s ag-gag law made it a crime punishable by imprisonment to photograph or record abuse of animals on factory farms. In his decision, Judge Robert J. Shelby stated that this law was a clear violation of our First Amendment right to gather information and speak out on matters of significant public interest.

“Four years ago, I stood outside a slaughterhouse in Draper and filmed a sick cow as she was being pushed with a front-end loader, as though she were nothing but a piece of garbage,” said UARC Director and plaintiff in the case, Amy Meyer. “I was shocked when I was the one charged with a crime instead of that animal’s abusers. It should never be a crime to tell the story of an animal who is being abused and killed, even if it’s for food. Today’s court ruling is a vindication for anyone who stands up for what’s right and tells the truth.”

Judge Shelby noted in his decision that Utah and other states only started passing these laws after animal advocacy organizations filmed horrific abuse at some of the nation’s largest factory farms. One investigation showed sick cows being abused and slaughtered, which led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history, including thousands of pounds of beef that was being served in Utah public schools.

UARC encourages Utah state legislators to start working to stop the unconscionable abuses and public health crises, rather than crafting unconstitutional laws in a pathetic attempt to shield one particular industry from legitimate public criticism.

UARC and the animals are indebted to the wonderful attorneys who litigated this case on behalf of the plaintiffs, including UARC Director Amy Meyer. These attorneys include Matthew Strugar, Justin Marceau & Alan Chen of the University of Denver, Stewart Gollan of the Pioneer Justice Center, and Matthew Liebman of Animal Legal Defense Fund.


2017 Utah Legislative Session – UARC Official Position Statements

S.B. 56 – Animal Shelter Amendments – SUPPORT

Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Knudson, would require animal shelters in the state of Utah to euthanize animals only by means of an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital. S.B. 56 also would institute common sense standards requiring shelters to have a euthanasia training program in place.

UARC stands in agreement with virtually every other animal protection organization and veterinary association that euthanasia by injection is the most humane and cost-effective method of euthanasia. Seven shelters in Utah still kill at least some animals via the use of a carbon monoxide gas chambers. At two shelters, this cruel method is the exclusive means of killing animals. That is unacceptable.

Animals placed in a gas chamber can take as long as 45 minutes to die as they bark, meow, or howl in fear as the chamber fills with gas and they slowly suffocate. There have even been instances when animals have survived this terrifying process and must be gassed again. For these reasons, UARC even rejects the use of the term “euthanasia” in association with this barbaric practice. We urge Utah legislators to support S.B 56.

S.B. 136 – Animal Shelter Revisions – SUPPORT

Senate Bill 136, sponsored by Senator Davis, would strengthen Utah’s cruelty to animals statute by ensuring that animals who are left at the end of a chain have access to minimal shelter during times of inclement weather. The bill also establishes common sense standards as to what constitutes “shelter,” making clear that a crawl space under a porch or the area under a motor vehicle are insufficient.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund releases regular rankings of each state’s animal protection laws. In its most recent assessment, Utah is ranked 47th. This abysmal ranking would be greatly improved if we strengthened our state cruelty-to-animals law, and passing S.B. 136 would go a long way towards meeting that laudable goal.

S.B. 179 – Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week – SUPPORT

Senate Bill 179 would designate a week in April as “Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week.” While this bill is largely symbolic, it is important to acknowledge that animal control officers have an incredibly difficult job and must juggle a number of responsibilities, including protecting the public from aggressive animals and enforcing humane laws. Many animal control agencies also are tasked with operating an animal shelter, a difficult and often thankless task. UARC regularly reaches out to animal control agencies when we are notified of a report of animal cruelty, and these officers are on the front lines responding to these public complaints. UARC thanks them for their assistance, and agrees that animal control officers deserve a great deal of respect and commendation.

H.B. 298 – Free Expression Regulation by Local Government – SUPPORT

House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Thurston, would require local municipalities to ensure any ordinances are consistent with established First Amendment case law, which protects the right to peaceably assemble and demonstrate.  UARC is taking a position on this bill because our organization frequently exercises our First Amendment rights to protest and demonstrate. In fact, over the years, UARC has filed a number of lawsuits in federal court against political subdivisions in Utah to ensure our organization’s rights are respected.

In one sense, H.B. 298 is duplicative, because neither state law nor local ordinance can supersede federal constitutional law, which already protects this right. However, UARC supports H.B. 298 because it may help put local governments on notice, thereby preventing an unneeded legal dispute from arising in the first place. Additionally, H.B. 298 may also help protect the First Amendment rights of individuals who may not have access to legal representation and the courts.

H.B. 54 – Campus Free Speech Amendments – SUPPORT

House Bill 54, sponsored by Rep. Coleman, clearly defines all outdoor gathering areas on college campuses to be “traditional public forums” for First Amendment purposes. UARC frequently protests animal research and circuses on college campuses, and we support this bill to ensure our right to continue these demonstrations is protected.

UARC has no official position on any other pending bill in the 2017 session.

The Shameful Bear Circus at the Salt Lake County Fair

Following an investigation by UARC on opening night at the Salt Lake County Fair, we urge our supporters to join us in pressuring the fair organizers to immediately cancel all future scheduled performances of “The Great Bear Show,” a bear circus currently featured at the event. This morning, UARC filed an urgent complaint with USDA officials, alleging violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) at the Salt Lake County Fair.

metal chain hangs from black bear forced to stand on back legs
Steele keeps a metal chain around the bear’s neck while making them perform tricks. Photo: UARC

UARC investigators observed handlers tie an iron chain around the bears’ necks, where the bears appeared to be missing patches of hair. The bears were also pacing neurotically in their cages, a sign of significant stress. The animals were allowed close and unsafe contact with audience members who paid to have their pictures taken with the bear.

bear next to family separated by thin plexiglass
A flimsy plexiglass barrier is all that separates an unrestrained full-grown bear from families as their photo is taken. Photo: UARC

A closer look into Bob Steele, the owner of “The Great Bear Show,” reveals even more cause for concern. The USDA has issued Steele citations for violating the AWA on March 12, 2012, February 5, 2015, August 26, 2015, and March 7, 2016. One of his repeat offenses is failure to provide adequate  veterinary care, demonstrated by significant hair loss on Barney, a young black bear in his care. Despite being cited just months ago, Steele continues to wrap an iron chain around Barney’s neck, where much of the patches of hair loss have been documented, and make him perform tricks in front of small crowds of fairgoers. The Montana Standard also noted Barney’s hair loss at the Butte-Silver Bow County fair just two weeks ago.

Great Bear Show
Steele pulls on a metal chain wrapped around one bear’s neck to make him do tricks for the audience. Photo: UARC

It is deeply troubling that Mr. Steele is still allowed to conduct business with animals despite his continued violations. The AWA enforcement system is profoundly broken and fails to protect animals.

Animal abuse is inconsistent with the values of Salt Lake County.

Take action:

  1. Call the Salt Lake County Fair at (385) 468-3247 and politely ask that they cancel all the currently scheduled appearances of “The Great Bear Show.”
  2. Sign UARC’s petition asking that the County prohibit the use of all exotic animal circuses and performing animal acts at county-owned facilities. 
  3. Share on social media and encourage friends to sign.
  4. If you are a resident of Salt Lake County, contact your County Councilmember directly to tell them you support UARC’s efforts to prohibit exotic animal circuses at the equestrian park.

Crowdsourcing Transparency in Government

In May 2016, the University of Utah was cited by federal authorities for violating the Animal Welfare Act  when a monkey was  burned during a procedure. Written protocols called for a warming blanket to be used and for the animals’ temperature to be continuously monitored. Neither precaution was taken. In a desperate attempt to bring the animal’s temperature back to normal, the monkey was severely burned with a “hot air” tube. The animal was subsequently euthanized. Failure to comply with simple written instructions was an act of extreme negligence on the part of university staff, and this monkey paid the price for that negligence with his or her life.

Fox 13 News initially reported on the U’s violations. Despite the fact that the story was accurate, and that the photographs were indeed taken inside the University of Utah, university spokespersons misled the station’s news director claiming that they were simply “PETA stock photos.” The story was scrubbed from the internet. The university’s effort to bury this embarrassing story worked. At least in the short term.

There are still a lot of details we don’t know about this incident. We don’t know how this breakdown of oversight happened, nor do we know if anyone was held accountable. We don’t know the nature of the experiment the monkey was used in. The university has not even released this poor monkey’s name (if she has one).

In an effort to learn more about what happened to this animal in this taxpayer-funded laboratory, Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) has filed an open records request  under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). We requested internal memos, correspondence, veterinary records, and written protocols related to this monkey and the incident where the U broke the law.

The U of U’s legal department responded to UARC’s request by demanding $325 in fees. In consultation with counsel, UARC considered our appeal options, but it was determined an appeal would not likely succeed.
Unfortunately, GRAMA’s fees provisions are incredibly weak. The law allows government agencies complete discretion as to whether or not fees are waived, even if the records are related to a matter of significant public concern. Obviously, when the records would embarrass an agency, fees are rarely waived. There have been legislative efforts to strengthen GRAMA in this respect , but so far these bills have failed.

We think it us vital to acquire these records so we can tell the story of what happened to this animal. The public paid for this experiment, and the people deserve to know the truth, especially when misconduct or negligence occurred. UARC also wants to demonstrate to the university that the public cares about this issue, and that the school’s refusal to offer transparency is unacceptable.

UARC is not aiming to raise any funds for our organization off this tragedy. We are only raising the necessary fees that the school is demanding for the records related to this incident. It’s unfortunate that transparency in government requires a crowdsourcing campaign like this one, but that is where we are.

We know the U will never release these unflattering records voluntarily. It’s on us to raise these funds so that the truth can see the light of day. Thank you.


Get Involved


Volunteer with UARC

Are you passionate about helping animals, people, and the environment? Take your commitment to the next level and become a UARC volunteer! UARC volunteers help with a variety of projects including:

  • Handing out literature and talking to people about living vegan at tabling events (farmers markets, outside concerts, etc.)
  • Cooking and serving vegan meals to youth at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness in our community.
  • Participate in protests or demonstrations as the need arises.
  • Making SLC VegFest a huge success!

Please click the button below to view more details and to sign up for a volunteer shift. Together, we can bring more compassion to our community.

Click to View Our SignUps on

UARC Presents SLC VegFest 2016

UARC is excited to present SLC VegFest, a FREE event open to the public, on September 10th, 2016.

At SLC VegFest, Utahns will learn how we can save up to 100 animals each year, significantly lessen our impact on the environment, and improve our overall health by simply leaving animal products off our plates.

passion flourThe event will feature delicious vegan food from local restaurants, expert speakers, a kids area, fitness zone, and lively entertainment to create a fun and welcoming environment. There will also be stations staffed with volunteer vegan experts on a variety of topics to answer questions and provide support. We are currently accepting applications for speakers, entertainers, volunteers, exhibitors and vendors. Learn more and apply today at  
SLC VegFest brings together local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals committed to creating a more compassionate, sustainable, and healthy community. With free admission, we are able to reach a wider audience, but are faced with many expenses. If you value the opportunities SLC VegFest brings to our community, please consider our sponsorship opportunities and become a UARC member

Meat Is Sucking Utah Dry, “H2Oath” Should Urge Veganism

Earlier this week, the Utah Division of Water Resources announced a new initiative called “H2Oath”, a “pledge” that Utahns can take to help conserve water. The pledge includes promises to change individual behavior in nine different ways, like only running the dishwasher when it is full, letting our lawns grow longer, and reducing “average shower time by at least 1 minute per shower.” 

We may wish that solving our state’s water crisis was as easy as changing our use of household appliances or taking shorter showers, but the statistics tell a different story.

According to a legislative audit, 82% of Utah’s water supply is used for agriculture. Because all nine of the H2Oath’s suggested action steps only deal with the remaining 18%, the state’s goal of reducing water use by 25% is actually a mathematic impossibility. Even if we stopped taking showers altogether, threw out our dishwashers, and completely xeriscaped all of our lawns and gardens, we would still be unable to reduce our state’s water use by 25%.

So what is the best way to reduce our agricultural use of water? Let’s take a look at where most of this water is being consumed. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that more than 86% of Utah’s irrigated land is currently used to grow hay and corn for farm animals.

This means that Utah is wasting enormous amounts of water to grow crops that we don’t even eat to support a diet that is unnecessary, unsustainable, cruel to animals, and bad for our health. No single action on an individual level would have as great of an impact on conserving water than going vegan. Even if Americans gave up meat just one day a week, it would save an amount of water equivalent to the entire flow of the Colorado River over an entire year.

You don’t have to take UARC’s word for it. Leading experts in the field of water conservation are now beginning to sound the alarm on the meat industry. University of Twente Professor Arjen Hoekstra invented the concept of the “water footprint.” He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on water conservation. He has co-authored several studies that have demonstrated how eating meat wastes water.  One study found that the “water footprint” of a beef hamburger is 15-times that of a veggie burger. Another study concluded that a shift towards a vegetarian diet would reduce society’s “water footprint” by an astonishing 36%. No matter how you measure it, animal products have the largest water footprint of all agricultural products.

Source:  Mekonnen MM, Hoekstra AY. The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss. 2011;8(1):763-809.

You can save an equivalent amount of water by either reducing your shower by one minute for the next 191 showers, or forgoing a single quarter-pound cheeseburger.

If you care about preserving our precious water resources, you can make the biggest impact by shunning animal products. The Utah Division of Water Resources should start explicitly stating so and encourage Utah residents to go vegan. If we continue to put our head in the sand and ignore the agricultural sector, which uses the vast majority of our water resources, Utah’s efforts to conserve water are doomed to fail.

UARC: Promoting Vegan Living and Fighting Animal Cruelty in Utah

Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) is excited to launch our website, a continually expanding resource for animal issues in Utah. We are a volunteer-run 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting vegan living and fighting animal cruelty.

Our primary focus is education and advocacy. In our first year, UARC’s goals are to:

  • Increase transparency and provide substantive data surrounding animal issues that affect Utah
  • Show 5,000 Utahns why and how to go vegan at our inaugural SLC VegFest
  • Advocate for animals suffering in Utah laboratories, farms, zoos, shelters, and entertainment venues

UARC is committed to a policy of collaboration with other animal advocacy organizations, but we are not limited to advocating only for the animals people share their homes with. We believe that the thousands of homeless dogs and cats euthanized every year, the 55,000 mice suffering inside the University of Utah laboratory every day, and the 500 turkeys from Utah factory farms killed every hour all need our voice.

Salt Lake City has a long history of passionate and successful animal rights activism. We have motivated more than a dozen restaurants to take foie gras off their menu, exposed fur farm cruelty and put fur stores out of business, promoted eating vegan to tens of thousands of Utahns, strengthened local ordinances regarding  the humane treatment of companion animals, showed the world the cruel practice of pig wrestling, helped pass an ordinance banning horse-drawn carriages in downtown Salt Lake City, and so much more. UARC is building on this foundation at the grassroots level, and we want you to be part of this local movement.

good IMG_4877By becoming a UARC member, you can be part of the growing movement to fight specisism on the local level. We partner with several vegan-friendly businesses in the community to offer our members special discounts and benefits.  With a donation of $20 or more to UARC, you can become a member and start receive benefits at a growing list of your favorite establishments. As a volunteer-run organization, you can be assured that 100% of funds received go toward our campaigns to help animals. SLC VegFest alone will cost UARC more than $15,000, and we rely on our community of concerned Utahns that recognize the importance of vegan living in the fight to end animal cruelty.

Our goals are ambitious, our campaigns are local, and our tactics are diverse.  But we owe it to the animals to never compromise and never forget our vision: animal liberation. Please join us by becoming a member today to support our campaigns and stay informed on actions you can take to help animals in Utah. Also, stay connected with us by following us on Facebook and Twitter.