Humane Society of Utah honors Taylorsville man who lost his life protecting a pet
Nov 03, 2017 02:30PM
● By Carl Fauver
Humane Society of Utah Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt (left) joins Jeremy Hardman’s mother, Judy Crocker and her husband, Bill Crocker, at Jeremy’s memorial ceremony. (Deann Shepherd, HSU)
Humane Society of Utah Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt says what Jeremy Hardman of Taylorsville did last summer was historic—a “first ever.”
“In my 29 years in this position, I have never heard a story—here in Utah or anywhere across the country—of a man stopping his car and pulling over, to confront someone abusing a pet,” Baierschmidt said. “(The Humane Society of Utah) knew we had to do something to honor him.”
After stopping to confront the man allegedly abusing a dog, the suspect drove away—with the animal—and then made a U-turn, hitting and killing Hardman, 47, as he stood in a crosswalk at 3600 West 4100 South in West Valley City.
Aaron Hosman, 40, of West Jordan was arrested for the crime three days after the June 7 incident. He now faces murder and other charges.
Later in the summer the Humane Society presented Hardman’s mother, Judy Crocker, with a “Hero’s Award” on Jeremy’s behalf.
“We waited several weeks after the incident to give the family some time to grieve,” said Humane Society of Utah Marketing and Communications Director Deann Shepherd. “We held a quiet ceremony in the Memorial Plaza outside our facility.”
The Humane Society of Utah is located in Murray, just east of I-15 at 4242 South 300 West.
Judy and her husband Bill Crocker accepted a plaque honoring Jeremy and also looked on as the Humane Society named one of their dog kennels for Hardman.
“I hope this gesture helped Jeremy’s mother and other relatives and friends in their grieving process,” Baierschmidt continued. “Jeremy is a true hero. When he saw a dog being abused he didn’t hesitate to take action. He should be remembered for that. It’s just tragic and unbelievable he lost his life for it.”
In earlier media reports Judy Crocker claimed her son had always been a “best friend” to animals. As a child he had pet dogs, cats, rabbits, even rats and hermit crabs.
The Humane Society of Utah’s Hero’s Award is rarely given out. In fact, the only other time veteran employees like Baierschmidt can recall it being given was several years ago to a group of firefighters who went above and beyond the call of duty to save a pet.
Hardman’s memorial ceremony was held on National Dog Day, August 26.
The Humane Society reports that 70 percent of all households have at least one pet, primarily dogs or cats. As the issue of animal cruelty has become more recognized, every state in the country has now elevated some types of animal abuse to felony crimes.
“Research shows, people who are capable of abusing pets are much more likely to commit the same offenses against spouses or other people,” Shepherd said. “And children who witness animal abuse are more than eight times more likely to commit a domestic violence crime as an adult.”
The Humane Society of Utah is the largest private animal shelter in the state. The facility placed more than 11,000 pets into homes last year alone.
The Humane Society clinic served nearly a 1,000 pets a week in 2016, including 10,575 spays and neuters. More than 100,000 dog and cat vaccinations were also performed during the year.
“We place about 91 percent of all the animals we receive into homes,” Shepherd added. “We operate as a ‘no-kill’ facility, but we do have to perform mercy killings once in a while, if a dog or cat is simply too old or otherwise unhealthy to be placed with a family.”
The Humane Society of Utah is also proud of the pet education programs it conducts throughout the year.
“We have staff members and volunteers who take animals out to schools every day,” Shepherd said. “We teach kids different things about caring for pets, based on how old they are. But all of them are taught the importance of never abusing animals.”
Some 1,540 active volunteers donated more than 33,000 hours to the Humane Society in 2016.
Learn more about the Humane Society of Utah at www.utahhumane.org or call 801-261-2919.