Etch A Sketch artist draws pictures of homeless pets to help them get adopted from the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City.

Artist Britt West uses her Etch A Sketch to create drawings of homeless dogs and cats for adoption at Best Friends in Salt Lake City, Utah.
By Nicole Hamilton

If you told Britt West when she was a child growing up in Salt Lake City that one day her Etch A Sketch would help save lives, she might not have believed you. But more than three decades later, after toting a tiny version of the classic drawing toy with her on a trip to the Grand Canyon, that’s what happened.

During a stop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary along the way, Britt felt a wave of inspiration and wanted to do something to preserve the memory of experiencing the Sanctuary for the first time. So, she pulled out her Etch A Sketch and drew the Best Friends logo.

Britt West holding Etch-a-Sketch with Best Friends logo in front of a Best Friends trivia sign

She shared a photo of her Etch A Sketched logo on Instagram, making sure to tag Best Friends. The social media team loved it and asked if she’d be interested in using her artistic talents to help pets at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City find homes. The answer was a resounding yes.

“I was so grateful for the opportunity,” says Britt. “I have always enjoyed giving back through my art, and it was just a really good feeling knowing that I could use it to help the animals.”

So how does one go about Etch A Sketching pets? As it turns out, it’s a bit of a process. First, the team at the center sent Britt photos of Rocky, a black pit bull terrier mix with wonderfully pointy ears, and a beautiful ginger tabby cat named Clicquot. The photos helped her get a head start on sketches, and then she visited the center to meet her four-legged subjects.

Videographer Erin Fell was there to capture the artist and her Etch A Sketch at work for the video above. And here’s some good news: Both Rocky and Clicquot have been adopted.

Britt West drawing of Rocky the dog on her Etch-a-Sketch

Rocky the dog source photo for Etch-a-Sketch drawing by Britt West

Etch-a-Sketch drawing of Cliquot the cat by artist Britt West

Photo of the face of Clicquot the cream-colored cat

Use your skills to help make a difference

While Britt enjoyed doodling on her Etch A Sketch when she was a child, it wasn’t until a friend gifted her one about 16 years ago that she really got into it. One day while waiting at a hospital for her sister to come out of a routine surgery, she sketched an octopus and then shared the sketch on her Facebook page. She received a ton of likes and words of encouragement to continue Etch A Sketching. By the time she visited the Sanctuary, she had perfected a process to preserve the sketches and was taking commissions from people who loved her art.

Britt West holding Etch-a-Sketch with Best Friends logo in front of a view of the Welcome Center

After being contacted by the center, she realized she could use her art to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets in her community. It’s something Britt is looking forward to doing more of in the future. “Using the skills you already have to help others just makes perfect sense,” she says.

Volunteer near you

Best Friends in Utah works collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals, all dedicated to the mission of making Utah a no-kill state. As part of this mission, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, runs the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Salt Lake City, operates two spay/neuter clinics and leads the No-Kill Utah (NKUT) initiative. Together, we will Save Them All.

Photos by Britt West and Sarah Ause Kichas