Best Friends founders honored


Every year, the Social Capital Hero Award honors people who have made a profound impact for the greater good — often behind the scenes. That has been the case with many of the founders of Best Friends*, most of whom you have likely never heard of, unless you happened to meet them at the Sanctuary’s café in Kanab, Utah. The award is given each year by Social Capital, a leading authority on strategic philanthropy for top causes and their partners and last night it was awarded to our founders.

I first encountered Best Friends — and the founders — in the early 1990s as a recent college graduate on my way to law school. It probably goes without saying that I never made it to law school, much to my family’s dismay. Rather, the vision of the founders’ no-kill mission, the Sanctuary and the inspiring beauty of Angel Canyon put my life on an entirely new track.

Recognition of Best Friends’ founders as a group of extraordinarily dedicated individuals is long overdue. Most were in their thirties and forties when they started Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in 1984. It quickly became the largest no-kill sanctuary for abandoned and abused animals in the country, and possibly the world, with as many as 2,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, birds, assorted farm animals and injured wildlife being cared for at any given time.

It wasn’t long before the founders started teaching others about no-kill through workshops at the Sanctuary and national conferences, as well as through Best Friends magazine. They also began to take their lifesaving work and philosophy to places like Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

In addition, they understood that in order for their work and their vision to have a lasting impact, they had to create a succession plan and open the way for those following in their footsteps. With foresight and intention, they began that work in 2004. As a consequence, Best Friends has grown exponentially and the founders’ no-kill mission is powering a national movement focused on the bold and very achievable goal of ending the killing in shelters nationwide by 2025.

Not many people who set out to create societal change — and that is what the no-kill movement is — see that change adopted within their lifetime. While some of Best Friends’ founders, sadly, have passed away, most will live to see their compassionate vision realized.

Together, we will Save Them All.

* Best Friends co-founders
Diana Asher
Virgil Barstad
Francis Battista
Judah Battista
Silva Battista
Gregory Castle
Dillon Cunningham
Gabriel de Peyer
Jana de Peyer
Raphael de Peyer
Maia Drayton
Magdalen Eaton
Mark Ebbs
Vivian Ebbs
Paul Eckhoff
Chandra Forsythe
Celeste Fripp
John Fripp
Nathania Gartman
Antony Gleeson
Mariko Hirano
Steven Hirano
Tyson Horn
Claire Ives
Carragh Maloney
Faith Maloney
Anne Mejia
Cyrus Mejia
Michael Mountain
Estelle Munro
Charity Rennie
Sharon St. Joan