When my friend Wendy found out Tom and I were volunteering at Pipe Spring, she told us that we HAD to visit Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. Wendy works with animal rescue groups in Ohio and worked hard for the passage of the Stop Puppy Mills Ohio bill. So, to humor Wendy, I scheduled a tour at Best Friends soon after we arrived.
Best Friends Animal Society is a big deal in Kanab Utah. The animal rescue group employs over 200 people and hosts 7,000 volunteers each year. A group of friends bought the property in Kanab in 1984 and ran the animal sanctuary privately until it got too big. In 1991 the group incorporated as a non-profit animal sanctuary named Best Friends. Because of the size and success of the sanctuary, it now has branches in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.
Best Friends believes that every animal should be able to live out its life in a safe environment. No matter what the health or behavioral issues, Best Friends will take in an animal and guarantee it a place for life. Rescued dogs from puppy mills live happily alongside old dogs left on the side of the road. Dogs rescued from Hurricane Katrina live out their days in safety.
At any given time, about 1,500 animals call Best Friends home. There are cats, dogs, pigs, goats, horses, and cockatoos. Best Friends Animal Society believes that no animal should be killed in a shelter. In the late 1980’s, over 17 million animals were put to death in the United States in shelters every year. In 2009 that number was down to 4 million. Best Friends believes that number should be 0 and their motto is “Save Them All.” Because of their work, Utah will be a no-kill state next year. Los Angeles and New York City are close to becoming no-kill cities.
Every year 30,000 people take a tour of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. You have to sign up in advance, and you can do that online or in Kanab. Tom and I signed up in Kanab for a tour the next day. The tours are free but they are, of course, hoping that you will donate or adopt after your tour. You can tour the whole area, get a tour of a specific area, or volunteer. Many people plan their vacations to the Grand Circle with a day for volunteering at Best Friends. But I’ve heard that volunteering is addictive – if you do it once you will want to come back again and again! Mayim Bialik visited Best Friends and you can watch a video of her visit here.
The general tour takes two hours. We watched a movie on the founding of the sanctuary, its purpose, and its expanding mission. Then we climbed in a 15 passenger van to visit the different animal areas. I like dogs and wanted to see a bunch of dogs but we only saw a few. They showed us some training methods and let us pet one of them. Then we headed off to the cat area and spent entirely too much time there. Tom stayed outside the building because he is allergic to cats. We drove by the horses, the staff housing, and the bird building. Each area is very large with its own animal clinic.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary sits on 3,000 acres of land in Angel Canyon just north of Kanab. They lease an additional 33,000 acres from the Bureau of Land Management so they have the valley to themselves. It is a beautiful area with plenty of room for all the animals to play and train.
You can sign up to receive e-mails from Best Friends here and you can donate here. You can give a one-time gift or agree to sponsor an animal through its lifetime. Even though Tom and I are not adopting a dog at this time, I took the adoption matching test. It only took a few minutes and matched us up with several dogs that would probably do well with our RV lifestyle.
I encourage everyone to visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and see the good work that they are doing. If you can’t visit out here, donate or volunteer at your local animal shelter or humane society. The dog or cat you save could be your own!