Best Friends staff members get involved locally to Save them All

In today’s wired world, reality for all types of organizations — for-profit as well as nonprofit — means often having remote staff located thousands of miles from operational headquarters. For Best Friends, situated as we are in rural southern Utah (once considered the most remote area of the lower 48), it means having staff dotted across the map from coast to coast — not just in our current program cities of Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and New York.

A large percentage of our staff still lives and works in Kanab because that’s where our sanctuary, the heart of the organization, is located. But reality dictates that key employees have spouses, family and life-related situations that can’t be accommodated in such a small community. So, from Chicago to Alabama, Michigan to Washington state, and New York to Florida to Texas, our Best Friends staff are literally spread out across the country.

A serendipitous side effect of this policy — originally intended to ensure that we can attract and accommodate the best staff to achieve our mission — is that our employees, true to their calling, tend to get involved in local animal issues.

It’s a great example of thinking globally and acting locally.

Here are a few of our animal welfare overachievers:

  • Myla Burns by day is the workplace campaigns manager in our Development Division. With the help of the folks who work on our pit bull terrier initiatives, Myla successfully fought proposed breed-discriminatory legislation (BDL) in her town in Madison, Wisconsin.

  • Wendy Kaplan, a regional gift advisor who’s also in our Development Division, has been very busy in her Florida hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. She spoke out against breed-discriminatory legislation at her local county commission meeting, which in 2013 landed her on a task force to explore common sense policies instead of BDL. She’s also serving on another local task force related to community cats and helping plan transports of shelter pets (like this one that recently saved 38 kittens).
  • Jon Dunn, our senior manager of policy, lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When faced with a couple of tragic hoarding situations, his city began a conversation to consider pet ownership limits. This is a chapter right out of Jon’s policy playbook. Best Friends opposes pet limits and Jon is working with the city to help civic leaders understand that pet ownership limit laws are regressive. He’s also letting them know that good, comprehensive animal care and control regulations that promote responsible ownership will save more lives and make it easier to address potential hoarding situations by nipping them in the bud.

  • Jennifer Hayes lives in Austin, Texas. You may be familiar with her work as Web content writer and editor for In 2009, along with other advocates in the central Texas town, she began peaceful demonstrations outside a local Petland Pet Store that was notorious for selling animals from puppy mills. They were successful and the city also passed an ordinance banning the sale of dogs and cats from mills.

  • Michelle Logan used to be the co-manager of Dogtown at our sanctuary in Utah, but today she lives in Florida, working as the No More Homeless Pets Network supervisor. She’s putting her deep knowledge of dogs to good use, helping out Palm Beach Animal Care and Control with enrichment and training for the dogs. She also helps the shelter with adoptions, ensuring that dogs find forever homes and making sure local rescue groups know what dogs are available to pull.

  • Linda Gage lives in Vermont and works as a No More Homeless Pets specialist for Best Friends. She’s very active there, helping with spay/neuter, vaccination clinics and adoption events. She’s also the local chairperson for the Vermont Disaster Animal Response Team.
  • Heidi Hase, our human resources (HR) recruiter, recently moved to Bend, Oregon. Wanting to feel more connected to the animals after leaving the Sanctuary, she attended an open volunteer meeting for the Bend Spay and Neuter Project. Heidi had never trapped a cat in her life, but now she is a seasoned trapper, helping many people across central Oregon manage community cat colonies.

  • Linda Blauch, also an HR recruiter, lives in New Hampshire and volunteers two mornings a week at the New Hampshire SPCA. Her commitment and knowledge have enabled her to join that organization’s “MOD Squad” team, who work with some of the more difficult dogs and help prepare them for adoption.

These examples are not only typical of local engagement by Best Friends staff, they reflect Best Friends culture and the character of our people.

It’s just another way Best Friends is working to Save Them All.