In April, I was presented with the opportunity to visit Best Friends’ Animal Society in Kenab, Utah. For those who don’t know where Kenab is, it’s about 3.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas, NV by car. Best Friends is a national organization that serves a couple functions. Not only do they operate several animal shelters across the country, but they financially support a network of about 1,400 other shelters nationwide, all with a mission to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets, and a vision of a better world through kindness to animals. (You may remember that Best Friends hosts an annual “Strut Your Mutt” fundraising walk here in St. Louis every fall.)
In my time there, I was able to tour the sanctuary, Best Friends’ flagship shelter facility and headquarters, home to about 1,700 dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, pigs, goats, mules, sheep and 1 donkey. The animals come to this expansive and breathtaking space in the canyon from all over the country, mainly from network shelters. Some of these animals may need extensive medical treatment or behavioral modification, where others may not. However, all of them are for adoption for the right family. Many of these animals will stay in this safe haven for the remainder of their life, but the adoption numbers from the sanctuary alone are staggering, with several thousand animals being adopted in 2015.
In touring and volunteering at Best Friends, I was just astounded 1) the incredible scenery and 2) the investment the workers have in each and every animal. The caretakers there know the name of every animal in their care, their health conditions, medical needs and specific feeding rituals. This is a place like none other, where they’ll put you to work, and yet you feel like you’re in some sort of vacation paradise. It’s both saddening that the amazing creatures at the sanctuary don’t have homes, and yet, comforting that they will always have a great home at Best Friends.
If you’re an animal lover, I would encourage you to carve out the time in your vacation and travels to visit and volunteer at Best Friends in Kenab, Utah, or consider supporting their efforts by visiting their Donation or Other Ways to Give pages. Best Friends is truly an impressive, unique and heartwarming organization.