Sorina Trauntvein


The impact of COVID-19 on animal shelters in Salt Lake County


When I was trying to decide on a topic for my story, I came up mostly blank. Leaning back on my passions led me in the right direction, though. I had been looking into volunteer work around Salt Lake County, and realized that a great story could be spawned from talking about animal shelters during the pandemic. A cursory search showed that it was underreported, and I knew that I could create a great resource for those in my area.

Reaching out to animal shelters in the area was relatively easy, as they are businesses that have marketing teams and publicly available emails. All of the shelters I reached out to were friendly. However, not all were willing to interview.

Guinnevere Shuster, the associate director of marketing and communications at the Utah Humane Society, reached out to me very quickly, and I was able to coordinate a Zoom interview with her as well as visit the shelter and take a few photos. This would be the core of my story, and provide the general narrative I wanted to share.

I also reached out to Temma Martin at the Best Friends Animal Society, who provided valuable information that would show how supportive and necessary its operation was during the pandemic. I did make an error and ended up missing an email from her. However, the timing still worked out and I was able to include that information in my article.

My final source was Abby Buttars, someone I knew growing up who had adopted a cat, Henry, during June 2020. They provided a first-person perspective on how the adoption process worked and how Henry improved their experience. I had been struggling to find someone to interview and ended up putting out a call for anyone who had adopted a pet during the pandemic. Buttars answered the call and I loved their addition to the story.

Martin and Shuster had shared similar situations, and I realized that the story I was going to be writing was slightly altered from the story I had planned. I had almost preemptively decided what information I was going to receive, and much of it ended up being incorrect assumptions that my sources overturned quickly.

After my interviews, it was all a matter of organization, as things seemed to be aligning as I pulled out strong quotes and began outlining. Although it turned out differently than planned, I’m glad I can now correct assumptions and share the story of what happened in Salt Lake County’s animal shelters during the last year.


I am currently a full-time student at the University of Utah, studying communication with a journalism emphasis. I aspire to be a journalist and explore the lesser-seen areas of life. I’m passionate about people and firmly believe that everyone is one conversation away from being interesting.

In May 2021, I graduated from Utah Valley University with an associate degree in university studies shortly before receiving my high school diploma from Utah County Academy of Sciences.

I always knew that I wanted to write when I grew up, but choosing a reason was the hard part. After taking an editing class during my senior year, I knew that I would love being a journalist. When I’m not writing, I like to spoil my niece, re-dye my hair pink, and read niche Wikipedia articles.