Last updated March 6, 2019.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the actual happiest place on Earth. This 3700-acre property located in Kanab, Utah allows companion animals to get a second chance at a meaningful life.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is nestled in Angel Canyon, home-between-home to over 1600 pets. Residents of BFAS are guaranteed a spot, no matter their history, circumstances, or behavioral tendencies. Of course, the goal is to see as many pets as possible into forever homes. And if a home doesn’t work out for a pet, they are always welcome back at the sanctuary.
I got to tour their awesome sanctuary and left feeling inspired. I learned about their nationwide initiatives, and how the good intentions of a few dedicated individuals have had such a massive impact on animal welfare.
At the sanctuary, everyone has a space to accommodate them: senior dogs, puppies, dogs with special needs, sick cats, cats who are antisocial– the list goes on. There are eleven different houses for the cats alone.
BFAS doesn’t stop at dogs and cats. The ranch includes Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, Horse Haven, the Bunny House, and a Parrot Sanctuary. The sanctuary also has a wildlife rehabilitation center known as Wild Friends, and on-site veterinary clinics and labs.
Not to mention, this is all set on the backdrop of a gorgeous desert canyon. It looks like a movie set, and it was. Does anyone remember Lone Ranger? Best Friends actually bought the piece of land that was the Kanab Movie Ranch. They scraped together a down payment and built the sanctuary from the ground up.
BFAS was founded in 1984 by a group of (yep) best friends, who are committed to ending animal euthanization.
At the time, approximately 17 million animals were euthanized annually. Today, that number is down to 2 million. By 2025, Best Friends vows to “Save Them All”— that is, make America a no-kill country.
Best Friends has approximately 2000 network partners across the US. By partnering with smaller sanctuaries and rescues, Best Friends creates a valuable opportunity to get more pets adopted. It fosters community among organizations spread far and wide, all working for the common goal.
Positive, Loving Lives
Best Friends is all about catering to the pets who are at highest risk of euthanization. According to the sanctuary staff, an animal’s entry to the sanctuary is prioritized based who is closest to their “last chance”. Every animal who comes through the beautifully crafted iron gates of Best Friends is guaranteed a fresh start. It’s a safe place where an animal can be their best self.
Staff and volunteers train their animal residents through love and positive reinforcement, which increases their likelihood of being adopted. By reinforcing a dog’s good behavior, the staff helps them form a positive relationship with humans. Additionally, they use training programs to mentally engage the dogs who live at BFAS, including nosework and Canine Good Citizen.
Best Friends won’t turn away an animal because of their needs, family history, breed, or age. They believe all dogs deserve a second chance, and they aren’t afraid to prove it.
You may recall The Bad Newz dog-fighting ring. After the ring was broken up, Best Friends took in 22 dogs. The court ordered these dogs to complete the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. According to a case study, many of these dogs went on to live happy lives with new families. A few dogs were put down, and one is now a therapy dog for cancer patients. Of the original 22 “Vicktory Dogs” who entered BFAS, three remain there now. The rest have been adopted by loving families. You can watch a documentary all about the vicktory dogs here.
You can help Save Them All
If you live in LA, then you may know of the Best Friends initiative No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA). They are always looking for donors, volunteers, and foster families to help continue their mission to Save Them All.
There are also many animal sanctuaries and shelters that don’t have as much exposure or infrastructure as Best Friends but are on the same mission to stop animal euthanization. Getting involved with your local shelters can have a great impact on your community, and educating yourself on animal laws can help us all advocate for a better future for our furry friends.
If you want to visit the sanctuary, you can schedule your visit here. Whether you visit for a day or volunteer for a week, Best Friends invites you to their sanctuary. In addition to daily complimentary tours, Best Friends also has a $5 lunch buffet overlooking Angel Canyon. (We ate at the buffet– it’s delicious.)
Cheers to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and let’s work towards a future where we can Save Them All!