Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

best-friends-animal-sanctuary1Besides 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.

best-friends-animal-sanctuary2The 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.

best-friends-animal-sanctuary3I 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.

best-friends-animal-sanctuary4Dogtown 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.

best-friends-animal-sanctuary5During 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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  1. Troy on July 15, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    WOW! That looks like an impressive facility! I bet volunteering there would be very fulfilling. With so much land, maybe they have some RV hookups for volunteers? Volunteer work in exchange for free hookups would be cool, like your Florida gig, but making money is nice too. If I remember correctly, you were getting away from the stress of the Vet Tech job though.

    Personally, I would have a hard time volunteering here as I would want to solve all the problems, fix all the animals and find homes for them all. I could imagine just when I felt like I was making progress, a new batch of animals would arrive. I commend the organizers, workers and volunteers on their passion to find homes for our Best Friends.

    When I was just a little Troy, my single Mom breed Boxer puppies and sold them for $300-$400 each. At the time, it was great for us because these puppies paid for my braces. Later, we found out about all the dogs & cats in shelters and have adopted ever since. I don’t currently have a pet, but my Mom has an adopted Golden Retriever (mix) and a Black Lab (mix) from an animal shelter in Houston.

    Thanks for sharing about this shelter. As usual, my list of places to visit continues to grow, the more I read your posts. 🙂

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      As another commenter said there are RV hookups, but you still have to pay to stay even if you volunteer there. It’s a big enough place with enough interest that I guess they don’t need to offer free sites as an incentive.

      If I volunteer here, it’d be as a caregiver and socializer, not as a vet tech. Under that premise I think I’d be okay with not being able to personally help them all

      Good on your family for deciding to adopt rather than breed or buy, it does make a difference. Take care!

  2. Roger on July 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Too bad I missed this place, but like your other reader I would want take many of them home with me. I did dog rescue with my wife when I was married and lived in Texas for ten years and found many forever homes for them.
    I hope to go to the Animal Ark Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary when I am working in Fernley, it is located in Reno not far from where I will be staying.


    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Sounds like fun Roger. Maybe you’ll have a chance to come back and visit this one another time.

  3. Ron on July 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    What a great service to all of our animal friends, I had no idea it was so large. Thanks for enlightening us.

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      You’re welcome Ron, glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Jodee Gravel on July 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I have heard such great things about Best Friends but guess I didn’t make the connection that it was so close to Zion. It would be hard for me to leave without one of everything I’m afraid :-).
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Sacrifice for the Cause?My Profile

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      It might be hard for me too. I’ve been wanting to adopt a cat to travel with me, but it’s not time yet. Going to be a challenge to stick to that if I start volunteering!

      • TravelBug-Susan on July 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        You know you can’t have just one cat! We have two that we adopted together from the same family. They are best buds and I don’t know what they’d do without each other when we’re away.

        TravelBug-Susan recently posted..Update on Bob’s Second Opinion – Tues., July 15My Profile

  5. TravelBug-Susan on July 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Best Friends is awesome indeed. When my mom, sister and i were on a three-week trip around the Southwest for Mom’s 80th birthday, we literally stumbled upon Best Friends. (Saw their billboard as we drove by on the highway, turned around and went back to see what it was all about). What a wonderful tour we had.

    I would love to volunteer there at some point in my life. Such a wonderful place!
    TravelBug-Susan recently posted..Up and At ’em! – Sat., July 12My Profile

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      I’m hoping I can squeeze in one shift a week, we’ll see how it goes!

  6. Karen on July 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Excellent post about a truly phenomenal place. We want to work camp/volunteer there on our full time odyssey. Did you see the two RV sites? Yeah, I could stay there for a while…

    • Becky on July 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Yes I did notice them Karen! It sounds like you still need to pay to stay in the RV sites even if you’re volunteering there, but I didn’t ask what the prices were.

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