Becoming mainstream

The cover of the December issue of Vanity Fair features a striking photo of Scarlett Johansson. For many, an equally striking photo appears on page 168 of the same issue. This image features Esther (who happens to be my sweet little dog), an almost toothless, rather chubby, old Chihuahua mix rescued off the euthanasia list at the South Los Angeles shelter. She’s seated on the lap of her rescuer, Gregory Castle (who also happens to be my husband). The photo was taken at Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah and appears in the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame section acknowledging the groundbreaking and historic work of Best Friends Animal Society.

We are honored by and greatly appreciative of such recognition, but more importantly, we are really excited by the elevation of our no-kill mission to the pages of such a mainstream and culturally significant magazine. Others honored as Hall of Famers include Oprah Winfrey, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Tom Hanks and Bill Clinton. Pretty mainstream, I say!

I can still remember when I first embraced Vanity Fair as a mainstay in my reading diet. It was an issue featuring John Malkovich as he appeared in character for “Dangerous Liaisons.” Moreover, the sharp tone and daring views of then contributing editor Christopher Hitchens really spoke to me. Never did I dream that the no-kill cause I held so dear and, at the time, the obscure organization in remote Southern Utah that I had just started volunteering for would be on the pages of such a mainstream publication, let alone be recognized in their Hall of Fame.

Bringing about a time when there will be no more homeless pets may be a crusade that is fought in the trenches by tireless waves of activists and advocates, but it won’t be won until the mainstream public owns and claims the victory as their own. The acknowledgement of Best Friends and our mission in the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame is one of the markers of public ownership of our cause that will continue to weight the scales of public opinion in favor of no-kill.

This is welcome exposure, not just for Best Friends but for all of you who work every day to save lives and end the killing of homeless pets. The world is watching and taking note, and we are honored to share in this with you.

To read the Vanity Fair piece, click here.

Julie Castle with Sunny the dog
Julie Castle
Best Friends Animal Society
No-Kill 2025