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A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in collaboration with a nationwide network of members and partners working to Save Them All.
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Frequently asked questions about animal welfare
What is a "no-kill" sanctuary?
It's a sanctuary for homeless pets where animals are able to stay for as long as it takes them to find loving homes. Animals may still be euthanized humanely if they are irredeemably sick or injured, but they are not killed in order to make space for more animals.
What is Save Them All?
Save Them All is Best Friends’ call to action. We believe that together with you, we can end the killing of homeless pets in America’s shelters by 2025. In 2021, more than 970 dogs and cats were killed in our nation’s shelters every day, simply because they didn't have safe places to call home.
But all across the country, grass-roots organizations, animal welfare groups and local governments are abandoning the idea that killing homeless pets is an inevitable and acceptable “necessary evil.” For more information about how to Save Them All in your community, visit bestfriends.org/save.
Is the goal to Save Them All realistic?
Absolutely. When Best Friends was founded in 1984, some 17 million animals died every year in our nation’s shelters. In 2021, that number was down to around 355,000. We believe that by working together, we can reduce that number to zero.
For more than 35 years, Best Friends has been working to end the killing by running innovative grassroots programs, supporting spay/neuter and trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, promoting shelter adoptions, fighting puppy mills and breed-specific laws, educating the public about animal issues, holding major adoption events, and conducting both large- and small-scale animal rescues.
Additionally, the Best Friends Network brings together thousands of animal welfare organizations across the country to help save as many lives as possible. Together, we won’t stop until we Save Them All.
What are some of the things that are helping to Save Them All?
Best Friends initiatives. Best Friends has three lifesaving initiatives that were launched to help Save Them All:
- Community cat initiatives: Promoting TNR for community (stray, free-roaming) cats and keeping them safe and out of shelters.
- Puppy mill initiatives: Educating the public about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores, helping to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores and encouraging adoption.
- Pit bull terrier initiatives: Challenging breed restrictions and making sure that all dogs are treated as individuals.
Best Friends Network. This Best Friends program comprises nonprofit rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations and shelters that are actively saving lives and reducing the number of animals being killed in their communities. The program offers network partners many benefits, including grants, fundraising opportunities, adoption promotions, discounts to conferences and consultations with Best Friends staff.
Regional programs. Best Friends is expanding across the country, with regional centers now established in Utah, Los Angeles, New York City and Atlanta, Georgia. Collaborating with shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations in these areas, Best Friends focuses on helping to Save Them All by reducing the number of animals entering shelters and increasing the number of animals leaving shelters alive.
NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles). Launched by Best Friends in April 2012, the NKLA initiative aims to make Los Angeles a no-kill city. The NKLA Coalition, led by Best Friends, comprises more than 100 animal welfare organizations working together toward that goal. Residents of Los Angeles are encouraged to help turn L.A. into NKLA by adopting, fostering, volunteering, and spaying or neutering their pets.
NKUT (No-Kill Utah). In 2014, Best Friends launched the NKUT initiative as the final push to end the killing of pets in Utah shelters for good. NKUT is possible because of the dedicated individuals, city shelters and dozens of animal welfare organizations that make up the NKUT Coalition.
Strut Your Mutt. This annual dog walk and festival, which began as a local Best Friends fundraiser in Salt Lake City in 1996, now takes place in more than a dozen cities around the country, raising much-needed funds for hundreds of Best Friends Network partner groups. Best Friends organizes each event and provides all participating groups with the tools they need to raise money. In addition to the live Strut Your Mutt events, there is also a virtual component that allows partners anywhere to participate and raise funds online.
Best Friends National Conference. With the goal of motivating people to save more animal lives and giving them the tools to do so, Best Friends has been holding national conferences since 2001. Formerly called the No More Homeless Pets Conference, the Best Friends National Conference brings together leaders of the no-kill movement; experts in animal care and behavior, marketing, fundraising and other fields; staff and volunteers from shelters and rescue groups; and animal lovers who want to make a difference.
Resources and consulting services. Free information on pet care and behavior, as well as how-to guides for humane groups and individuals who want to get involved in helping animals, are available at bestfriends.org/resources. In addition, Best Friends staff members provide free consulting services for our Best Friends Network partners.