Axios Salt Lake City

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🎩 A very fine Wednesday morning to you!

  • Today's weather: 🌥️ Partly sunny, with a high near 53.

🩺 Situational awareness: Erin is having surgery today and will be out recovering for a bit. Have fun with Kim!

Today's newsletter is 798 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Vet demand returning to pre-2020 levels

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

New veterinary clinics are popping up in Utah, alleviating the region's need for pet care services.

Why it matters: Demand for veterinarians spiked during the pandemic, making it difficult for pet owners to schedule appointments for their furry friends.

Between the lines: People noticing ailments by spending more time with their pets and more discretionary income were some driving factors that prompted visits to the vet, assistant state veterinarian Amanda Price tells Axios.

By the numbers: Between 2012 and 2021, the number of veterinary establishments in Utah increased by about 12%, according to 2021 Census Bureau data, the most recent available.

  • The number of vet clinics in the country has increased by 8.4% since 2012.
  • The state's growing population has also prompted more veterinary clinics to open along the Wasatch Front.

What they're saying: Veterinary visits are now seeing "a return to pre-pandemic levels," Price tells Axios.

Yes, but: Rising costs and economic uncertainty have spurred some pet owners to delay health care for their pets, Price noted.

Zoom in: Residents in Salt Lake City — where more households have reported living with dogs than children — love their pets.

  • A 2017 survey found 38% of households said they owned a dog while just 22% reported living with someone under 18.

Why we might get even more vets soon

2. 💇‍♂️ Quote du jour: Trump on Lee's haircut

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during a January news conference in the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Mike Lee was praised for his haircut in an audio recording Axios obtained of former President Trump reflecting on prospective running mates.

The big picture: Trump's most prominent surrogates went to his Mar-a-Lago resort on Saturday to audition for vice president.

  • Trump provided real-time reviews of the prospects at a private luncheon where his remarks were recorded.

What he's saying: About Lee, Trump commented, "I love your haircut! ... And he's a good man too."

Context: Lee was one of several lawmakers who attended Trump's Florida fundraiser this weekend.

Trump on other VP candidates

3. 🏒 New hockey training grounds

NHL logos are seen on the Delta Center windows on April 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The Shops at South Town in Sandy will be the site of the training grounds for Utah's new NHL team.

State of play: Smith Entertainment Group announced this week that it entered a contract with the shopping center to build the team's training facility and offices.

  • It's expected to be completed before the 2025-26 season.

The intrigue: The new site will include at least two NHL-sized ice rinks and a team store.

  • It will also offer hockey programming for community members and youth.

Read more:

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4. Fry Sauce: Utah takes on Idaho's abortions

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏥 Idaho hospitals have been sending patients to Utah for emergency abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court in January removed temporary protection for the procedure in some medical crises. (FOX 13)

  • Idaho's ban, which is now under SCOTUS review, allows abortions to save patients' lives, but not to protect their health.

A Utah County teen bull rider died this weekend after a bull stepped on him. (KSL.com)

🗳️ Utah's elected auditor says the state Legislature did not seek his input before putting his office in charge of complaints under the state's new anti-trans bathroom ban. (Salt Lake Tribune)

  • Auditor John Dougall said his staff had to sift through thousands of hoax complaints submitted last week to the state's new bathroom-violation reporting website.

👑 Utah's Noelia Voigt has stepped down from her reign as Miss USA 2023, citing health reasons. (USA Today)

  • Her Instagram announcement fueled speculation when fans noticed the first letter of the first 11 sentences spells the phrase, "I am silenced."

5. 🤩 The New York Times likes our stars

The Milky Way over Balanced Rock in Arches National Park. Photo: Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A Utah glamping resort got a boost in the Gray Lady this weekend with a travel story extolling our celebrated dark skies.

Why it matters: The state has been pushing stargazing tourism hard, with a fast-spreading campaign to get parks, towns and resorts certified as "International Dark Sky Places."

  • There are about 30 in Utah — a big share of the 138 listed nationally.

Zoom in: The story features the luxury campsites at Under Canvas Lake Powell-Grand Staircase, the first-ever certified Dark Sky resort, near Big Water.

  • Some of the tents have stargazing windows over the beds.

The intrigue: Locals know you can see the same sky camping for free on BLM land.

  • But we'll let out-of-towners fill Utahns' coffers with $300 per night for creature comforts and a sense of being attended to in the middle of beautiful nowhere.

👩‍👧 Erin is happy her mom visited the week before Mother's Day.

☕️ Kim is learning how to make café de olla cold brew.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by Natasha Smith and Bryan McBournie.