Best Friends Animal Society Announces the Passing of Beloved Co-founder and Animal Welfare Pioneer Faith Maloney
KANAB, Utah –It is with profound sadness that Best Friends Animal Society announces the passing of co-founder Faith Maloney, who passed away yesterday from ovarian cancer.
Considered a pioneer in the animal welfare movement, Faith along with a group of friends built Best Friends Animal Sanctuary from the ground up in 1984. With little money and even less construction experience, the group bought raw land in the desert town of Kanab, Utah, and a collection of used books on construction. They went to work building a sanctuary for abandoned and abused animals that would eventually become the country’s largest no-kill sanctuary and headquarters of Best Friends Animal Society.
In the earliest days of Best Friends, Faith, with no formal training, served as the DeFacto animal control officer for the area, regularly responding to calls from the Kanab Police Department, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Fredonia (Arizona) Marshall’s Office, and the Kaibab Paiute Tribal Police.
She simultaneously established and managed the sanctuary’s “Dogtown” area, where each day Faith cared for more than 500 homeless dogs and earned the nickname “Chief Dog.” She knew every dog’s name and story, and amazed Sanctuary visitors with her connection to the animals.
Best Friends Chairman of the Board and Co-founder Francis Battista shared the following statement:
“Faith’s ‘no-big-deal' approach to doing the extraordinary every day is part of what made Best Friends and in particular our Sanctuary what we are today. Faith was committed to the ideal of cheering on others and helping them do their best for the animals, the planet and each other. Faith lived a life of compassion. She was authentic. She paved the way for so many who emulated her commitment to the animals. Her pragmatic advice and warm laugh among so many other things will be remembered.”
Faith Maloney was born in Guildford, England, on March 11, 1944, to Irish parents. She
attended an all-girls convent school from age five to 16, and then attended the Guildford School of Art, in Surrey, UK, where she earned a degree in fine arts with a minor in lithography. Faith eventually emigrated to the United States and spent 38 years in Kanab, UT focusing on her passion for saving animals.
Faith was the first president of Best Friends and a popular columnist for Best Friends Magazine, where for thirty years she offered pragmatic advice to readers on everything from “how to help a neurotic pet” to “dealing with cats who knead too much.” She also contributed regularly to the local newspaper Southern Utah.
In 1998, she co-created Best Friends’ “How to Start a Sanctuary” workshop, which has been the gateway experience for dozens of no-kill organizations around the country. It is now an accredited university course in collaboration with Southern Utah University.
"Faith herself said, ‘I feel that I have both the gift and the responsibility to pass along what I have learned over the years.’ She enjoyed helping people vault the obstacles that block their paths to doing what they love most with the animals, and that is helping to save their lives. Losing Faith is devastating, but her legacy of kindness and her commitment to the animals will live on through the work of Best Friends. And getting on with the work is just what Faith would have wanted from us all. Our thoughts are with her family.”
Faith was 78 years old. She is survived by her daughters, Carragh and Eve, her son, David, and her grandchildren Zoe and Jacob. Her impact on a large and dedicated national community of animal lovers working to save the lives of homeless pets cannot be overstated. She will be deeply missed.
About Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 3,700 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org.