Have you heard about Best Friends Animal Society? It is the largest no-kill companion animal sanctuary in the world. Located on 3700 acres of gorgeous red rock country in Southern Utah, Best Friends is a beautiful, happy-making place where many cats and dogs, some pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, horses, mules and birds go to be rescued and adopted. Although there are a few sheep, a goat or two and some wild animals, it is mostly for rescuing companion animals and it is run extremely well.
We arrived on a cold, sunny day. The mountains were so pretty covered with snow. I had made arrangements ahead of time so that my son and I could volunteer and go for a tour of the facilities. Best Friends is open to several kinds of volunteering, both on the premises and out of the area. There are some people who spend their vacations volunteering there. We pulled up to the welcome center and parked. The facility is extremely well-organized and beautifully laid out. After poking around in the store for a bit, we went through some volunteer training and watched a video that explained about the sanctuary.
As you look at the photos above, you will see Best Friends signs that direct visitors to the different animal areas. We had enough time after the training to do some walking to see some of the different animals. We stopped in at the horses, goats and sheep then headed up to have lunch. The restaurant there served a buffet of vegetarian food with a vegan option if you spoke to the kitchen crew directly. The building is up high and offers a delightful view of nearby rock formations. We would have eaten outside but you can see all the snow that was on the patio that day.
After lunch, we helped take care of the cats along with some other volunteers, then went for the tour and saw all of the different neighborhoods including “Dog Town Heights – A Gated Community.” You may be familiar with a television show that was filmed here, called “Dog Town.” It was shown on the National Geographic channel. Best Friends is also where Michael Vick’s dogs went after they were rescued from being used in dog fighting.
All the facilities are designed to be very animal friendly. Inside the building for older dogs there are photos of all the ones who have been adopted out to new homes. If you want, you can take one of the animals for an overnighter. The photo of an open notebook has a record of each dog’s overnight history with different folks.
As we drove around we also saw plenty of wildlife in the area; rabbits, wild turkeys, deer and a golden eagle. The tour took us past the Angel’s Rest animal cemetery that sits over a valley. It was a very touching sight. On the way out, we stopped to say hi to Sprocket, the friendly pot-bellied pig. There are cabins on the property that are available to rent and he loves going for overnighters with willing guests.
As we drove south across the lower portion of Utah, the sun was setting and had a bright stream of white light shooting straight up above the skyline. (Unfortunately, my camera did not come near to doing it justice.) It seemed to set an important tone to the day’s events. I cannot say enough great things about Best Friends Animal Society.
The next time you are near Utah or Arizona, consider making arrangements to visit. If you are interested in learning more about Best Friends, how to volunteer for them in your area or to make a donation go to:
© Jill Powers and The Feel Good Vegan 2011