A national treasure

Full disclosure — I am married to one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society, Gregory Castle, so my view on this topic may be a bit skewed. However, it is indisputable that the founders of Best Friends are iconic figures in the world of animal welfare. My 14 years of marriage and my 18 years of association with them as a group has not diminished my respect for them as individuals or for what they have achieved as visionaries — founding the no-kill movement over 25 years ago, and, additionally, truly elevating the status of animals in our society through sincere kindness and compassion with the simple message that kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us. That positivity always triumphs over negativity. We are here to build new avenues of good, shining a light of truth through kindness and overpower any negative force that confronts us. And that's not to say that we haven't butted heads over all manner of issues (we absolutely have), but that's just another measure of the founders' grounding in reality and one more thing to admire about them.

When we were planning the founders’ session for the 2012 Best Friends No More Homeless Pets National Conference, we weren't trying to capture a memorial tribute or a documentary recording. Our intent was to give conference attendees some insight into how the founders navigated the challenges of cooperation, failures along the way, growth, and mission integrity that every grassroots organization faces as it grows. It's sobering to note that four of the founding group of Best Friends have already passed away and their personal accounts of the evolution of the organization are lost to us. That’s a shame because as you will see, they are all such unique and different characters and personalities.

The founders’ session turned out to have more impact and to be more inspiring than any of us who helped put the conference together could have imagined.

Following the session, one attendee, who is connected at the highest levels of the entertainment industry and is also someone of national influence in animal welfare, commented to me, "Forget about their importance to Best Friends, what you have here is a national treasure!"

So with that, I am pleased and proud to share with you the video of the founders’ session from the recent Best Friends No More Homeless Pets National Conference.

No-Kill 2025

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society