Besides the numerous national and state parks I’m currently living within reach of, there are other attractions of interest as well. Some museums, which I’ll admit aren’t as high on my to-see list, but also Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which I had heard about from other RVers and given my interest in animals, this is something I’ve been planning on visiting. So as temperatures climbed into the 90’s Friday afternoon and made hiking a less attractive option, I dropped in here instead.
To say Best Friends is an animal shelter is an understatement. At nearly 2,000 acres and housing approximately 1,700 animals on any given day, it’s the largest no kill shelter in the country and has been featured numerous times on TV, there was even a Discovery Channel series about it for a while.
The sanctuary houses dogs and cats, but also horses, pigs, parrots, rabbits, and even has a section for wildlife rehabilitation. Many pets arrive here with issues that make them hard to adopt out, and the staff and extensive volunteer network work with these animals as long as is necessary to get them in shape for adoption. For those that for whatever reason aren’t adoptable, they have a guaranteed home at Best Friends for the rest of their lives.
I happened to arrive just in time for one of the two-hour tours, and before I even had a chance to look around the Visitor’s Center got whisked away in a shuttle for a tour of the grounds. The exquisite Angel Canyon that the sanctuary sits in rises to an elevation of 5,500 feet and is counted part of the vermilion cliffs plateau, the rock was certainly red.
The founders bought the property in the year I was born, 1984, making this their 30th anniversary. While I can only imagine those founders must have had a decent chunk of change to get the non-profit started, most of the money to keep it going these days comes from ordinary folks who donate and pay for memberships to the society.
The scale of the whole thing is amazing to me.
Dogtown houses around 450 dogs in numerous octagonal shaped buildings, each with eight runs that typically house two to three dogs each, there’s indoor and outdoor portions. Just this April a brand new clinic opened that has five veterinarians and 15 vet techs on staff. The cat complex features 11 buildings that house around 550 cats mostly in groups of around eight, also in indoor/outdoor enclosures.
The adoption rate sanctuary-wide is 88%, which means an impressive number of animals move through this place in a year. Then, once you get beyond the sanctuary itself, the Best Friends society also has started shelters in other states, and runs a network that any non-profit shelter can join for support and advice. They also host low cost spay and neuter clinics and several outreach programs designed to educate the public on animal welfare, all in the name of their goal and slogan: Save Them All.
During the tour I got to visit both a dog building and a cat building, and got my fix. Arriving as late as I did I didn’t get to do much after the tour was over, visitors are allowed to drive their own vehicles to various buildings and have a look around on their own too. I definitely intend to come back again when I have more time, and possibly to volunteer if my work schedule will keep me on the same days off every week. Over all I was extremely impressed and inspired by the place and highly recommend it for animal lovers traveling near Kanab.
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