An audacious goal
Best Friends is at the forefront of a national movement to end the killing in U.S. shelters. This has been our mission since the founders of the organization broke ground for the Sanctuary at an amazingly beautiful but very remote canyon in rural southern Utah just over 34 years ago. The challenge: no infrastructure, no power, no phones, no water, no roads, not much money and a location in one of the most inaccessible parts of the lower 48. Oh, and an endless supply of animals in need.
The fact that the founders embraced any mission at all beyond making it to year two was characteristic of the idealists and visionaries that they are. Big, audacious goals have been a characteristic of Best Friends since the organization was founded.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Audacious Philanthropy,” the authors say, “Audacious social change is incredibly challenging. Yet history shows that it can succeed.” They mention some of the greatest game-changers of our time: disease eradicators, lifesavers, philanthropists who changed the world when no one else thought it could be changed. And they all had one thing in common: They started at ground zero. Sounds familiar.
At the 2016 Best Friends National Conference in Salt Lake City, I delivered the closing address and was privileged to plant a stake in the ground for perhaps our most audacious goal yet. In the speech, I called it our movement’s “moon shot,” invoking President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to America to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth within a decade — a challenge that required materials that had not yet been invented and technologies that did not yet exist.
At the 2016 conference, I declared Best Friends’ intention to lead the entire country to no-kill by 2025 and invited the animal welfare world to join us in ending the killing in shelters. In the year and a half since that conference, individuals and organizations across the country have taken up the cause and are working to make their own communities no-kill. And Best Friends is building out a national strategy with no-kill leaders from private and public shelters, rescue groups and grant-making organizations to achieve this bold, audacious goal.
There was a time, not that long ago, when the idea of ending shelter killing anytime soon was regarded by most of the traditional sheltering community as pure fantasy, an idea embraced by a lunatic fringe that was engaged in wishful thinking and creating false hopes for the public, not to mention PR problems for old-school advocates.
Well, times have changed. I am very happy to say that our no-kill fantasy is fast becoming a reality. Our latest data analysis (using the most thorough data compiled on the subject to date) has revealed that there are more than 1,500 no-kill communities in the United States! We’ve created a map to illustrate the impact of the no-kill movement. Is your community on the map? If it is, voice your approval to your local leaders. If your city is not listed, let your leaders know that you want them to take steps to achieve no-kill. Join the movement and help make 2025 the year when killing in shelters comes to an end in this country.
Together, we will Save Them All.