Nestled in a red rock canyon in Southern Utah lies Best Friends Sanctuary.
Home to some 1,600 animals on any given day, Best Friends Animal Society is the country's largest no-kill companion animal sanctuary. Most of the sanctuary's residents are dogs and cats, but the grounds are also home to horses, burros, pigs, goats, rabbits, birds, and a host of other creatures, including wild animals.
Best Friends began in the 1970s, when a group of animal lovers began combing shelters for "unadoptable" animals. These "unadoptables" included old, sick, undersocialized, abused, neglected, and other out-of-luck animals whose fate would otherwise have been euthanasia.
The friends adopted, rehabilitated, and re-homed hundreds of these "throwaway" animals. The animals who did not find homes slowly grew into a unique and colorful menagerie. Realizing that they would need a permanent place to house these animals and continue their lifesaving work, the group established Best Friends Animal Society in 1984 and moved the operation to Angel Canyon, in Kanab, Utah.
Best Friends owns about 3,700 acres, and leases 17,000 more. The sanctuary is divided into species-specific areas, which include:
- Cat World
- Horse Haven
- Marshall's Piggy Paradise
- Bunny House
- Parrot Garden
- Wild Friends
The sanctuary is a no-kill operation, so animals that cannot be rehabilitated or placed in forever homes live out their days on the grounds. Most of the animals that come to the sanctuary come from shelters across the country that lack the time and resources to rehabilitate them. In exchange, many of the shelters take Best Friends animals that have been rehabilitated and are ready to be adopted.
Best Friends is a nonprofit organization and relies on public support and volunteerism. The sanctuary is open to visitors, and offers a host of activities, services, and outreach programs. Some of these include: sanctuary tours, internship programs, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and animal care workshops.
If you'd like to learn more about Best Friends and how you can visit or help, you can check out the official website here.
All photos courtesy of Best Friends.