Person smiling while standing with a group of donkeys
The Best Friends Story
Back in 1984, a scrappy group of friends from far corners of the globe settled in a remote area of Utah’s high desert … and took the first steps to forever changing the future for pets in shelters.

It’s the story of Best Friends, but it’s much more than the history of a spot on the map. This group of ordinary but passionate people believed that every pet has a story, too, each one worth saving, each life individual and important. Today, nearly four decades after they broke ground for a sanctuary in a remote region of the Southwest, achieving no-kill across the entire country is within reach.

Historical images at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

We started with little fanfare

And even fewer resources. We were creating a sanctuary for homeless and special-needs animals literally from the ground up. We were forging roadways and erecting buildings with our bare hands. We were creating a better world through kindness to animals.

We did it with passion, believing that a humane path forward — one in which every pet has the chance to know love and companionship — was the only path forward.

There was no how-to manual for realizing such a vision, but we soon found we didn’t need one. We emphasized positive change and what we could accomplish together, never guilt or shock to force people into joining us.

Even in those early days, each discrete act of lifesaving counted, no matter how small or unseen. Because we weren’t just building a sanctuary. We were laying the groundwork for changing how this country looks at — and looks out for — its homeless dogs and cats. We were shaping the way we care for our most beloved companions. When money was tight, we shared whatever we had — and the more we shared, the more we were given to share.

The Sanctuary remains our anchor

But, even today, it still comes down to small, simple acts of kindness — and the belief that every animal deserves a chance.

As we’ve grown, our national network partners and pet lifesaving centers have become hubs for innovation and inspiration. We’re bringing tangible lifesaving tactics to shelters and rescue groups across the U.S, touching every community in the country.

Person holding a small dog in front of a Best Friends location

We absolutely love animals — and we think humans are pretty swell, too

That’s why we’ve got people around the country working to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place.

Working together, we’re building on this foundation of compassion and inclusion to help both pets and people. We’re making sure that everyone has the same access to loving pets and that every adoptable pet has access to the comfort of a foster home instead of a kennel in a shelter. 

We’re committed to creating communities, including our own workplace, in which everyone is valued and respected. Even if your cat ears stay on for video calls. OK, especially if your cat ears stay on for video calls.

Dog licking person's face
Do we sound like your cup of kibble?
Come work with us, help make a difference, and have some fun while you’re at it.

Our partners

Individually, we can save a few. But working together with you, and our foundation, corporate and network partners, we can Save Them All.