Our Story

The beginning of a very unique animal welfare society

Happy senior golden retrieverFor so many animals, it was the beginning of a miracle. It was the 1980s. Shelters across America routinely killed cats and dogs as the primary method of handling unwanted pets. Around 17 million animals perished every year. Older, sick and problem animals were the first to go. Then, a group of friends began taking some of those "unadoptables" to a safe haven to heal. With proper care and patience, the vast majority of these animals found loving forever families. The remaining animals spent the rest of their days romping in the new sanctuary. That group of friends who cared so deeply about animals grew and flourished and became Best Friends Animal Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and animal welfare society.

Save Them All

At the core of Best Friends' work is the dream that one day animals will no longer be killed in America's shelters. By implementing spay/neuter and trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs to reduce the number of animals who enter shelters, and increasing the number of people who adopt pets, we know we can end the killing. We know we can Save Them All.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Dogtown is a safe haven for abandoned petsAt the heart of Best Friends is the Sanctuary, where, at any given time, about 1,700 animals are turning their lives around, receiving the medical help they need, and getting love and acceptance to help them overcome their past. While searching for their forever homes, they live in a scenic, healing environment among human and animal friends.

Best Friends owns nearly 3,700 acres, and we lease another 17,000 acres of state and federal land. Nearly 30,000 people visit every year to meet the animals and tour what has become the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Learn more about the Sanctuary.

Around the country

The ability to Save Them All can only be achieved when like-minded organizations and individuals come together. Best Friends works collaboratively with other groups, government, and regular folks throughout the nation. Our outreach programs get to the very root of animal homelessness nationwide.

Best Friends' No More Homeless Pets Network brings animal shelters and rescue groups together from across the country to hold mutual adoption events, public education campaigns, and fundraising drives. Working together, these groups are able to save many more lives than they could in isolation.

Man rescues homeless black catBest Friends has put together a coalition in Los Angeles dedicated to ending the killing of healthy and treatable pets in L.A. city shelters, as well as programs to spay/neuter animals, find homes for shelter pets, and raise public awareness. Best Friends also took over operations of a shelter there, which serves as both a spay/neuter center and a no-kill adoption center for animals who had already arrived in other shelters.

We are a proud participant of Shelter Animals Count (www.shelteranimalscount.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating, sharing and stewarding a national database of sheltered animals that provides facts and enables insights to save lives.

Nationwide, Best Friends is also running these critical initiatives:

Saving pitbull terrier dogsPuppy mill initiatives: Best Friends is working hard to combat puppy mills, one of the major contributors to animal homelessness, through public awareness campaigns, legislative work, and encouragement of adopting rather than purchasing pets.

Cat initiatives: Cats comprise the majority of animals dying in shelters - up to 70 percent in some places. Most of these are community cats (stray and free-roaming). Best Friends is working to save lives by implementing innovative trap/neuter/return programs across the country. Some of the most successful to date have been in Los Angeles, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jacksonville, Florida: San Antonio, Texas: and Albuquerque, New Mexico. These programs have helped reduce cat shelter deaths by as much as 65%.

Pit bull initiatives: Like cats, pit bull terriers comprise a disproportionately high number of animals dying in shelters. At Best Friends, we fight breed-discriminatory laws, and work hard to change the image of the pit bull terrier nationwide through Neighborhood Pit Bull Days, advertisements, and more to give these dogs the chance to make it out of shelters and into the arms of loving families.

From humble beginnings, Best Friends Animal Society has grown into a national leader in the no-kill movement. But the future lies in the same place that it all began - with caring individuals who want to make this a kinder nation for our pets. It's people like you who started it all, and people like you who will help us to Save Them All.