Mrs. Lite Adventurer and I were in the western United States a few years back doing a tour of some national parks in Utah and Arizona, and while driving from Bryce Canyon to Page, Arizona, we made an unexpected pit stop along the way that ended up being one of the highlights of our trip.
In Kanab, Utah, which is at the Utah-Arizona border, there’s a place called Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. If you’re an animal lover and you’re in this area, you’ll want to set aside a couple of hours to check this place out.
For those who are not familiar, Best Friends Animal Society is the largest non-kill shelter in the United States. In order for a shelter to be designated as non-kill, the current accepted definition is that the shelter must save at least 90% of the animals it takes in, and the only animals that get killed are the ones who are suffering beyond relief or are a danger to other pets or people (e.g. a dog with rabies that has gone insane).
In addition to providing direct medical care and rehabilitation to dogs and cats who are in the transition process to their forever homes, Best Friends also has a three pronged national advocacy program with the following goals: a trap, neuter, vaccinate, and return program for community cats who don’t cohabitate with a specific human family, fierce opposition to puppy mills, and support for the adoption of pit bulls.
Best Friends has 4 centers across the United States (Los Angeles, Kanab, Atlanta, and New York City), and the largest of these is the Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah which houses around 1600 homeless animals at any given time. This place is located in a beautiful canyon out in the middle of nowhere, and let me tell you – if I was a homeless cat with a missing leg, this is where I’d want to be. The Sanctuary is a massive piece of property with large, spacious areas housing all kinds of animals in different sections. You’ve got the horse section pictured below, which is the first thing you see as you walk in from the parking lot.
There are also areas for dogs, cats, birds, pigs, guinea pigs, and even rabbits. A few of these sections were closed off during our visit so we couldn’t see everything, but we did get to spend some time in Cat World, which is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Cat World is a village of several houses – one of which is pictured above – that provides a free roaming environment for 700+ cats. Each house is like a huge obstacle course for kitties with cats everywhere doing cat stuff at various planes of elevation. If you’re a cat person, even a little bit, you’ve got to see this place.
Guided tours at Best Friends Sanctuary last about 2 hours and are offered 4 times a day most days of the year. You can make reservations on their website ahead of time, and these are recommended during the busy summer months. If you’re unable to visit, but would still like to help the cause, donations can be made at https://bestfriends.org/. You can even initiate an adoption through their website if you’re looking to welcome a small friend into your home. Even if you’re on a time crunch and can’t do an official tour, it’s still worth a visit to drive around the property on your own and say hi to all the various furry beings who live there.
To conclude this post, I’d like to share a picture of the two kitties that I adopted from a no kill shelter called Furkids. One of them died a few years back (RIP Cinnamon), but the other is still well and livening up the house with her presence.