Best Friends Animal Society
April 6, 2009
Fueled by donations of over $35 million their activities have spread across the country and beyond. A great deal of good is done both in helping animals in need and also educating the public and lawmakers. However, like a few other large and successful charities, they have changed in many ways over the years. Some of them not visible or so pleasant.
Near Kanab, Utah, they have the largest domestic animal sanctuary in this country. Each year, thousands of people visit their Sanctuary and hundreds more post their feelings on the forums and news blogs from Best Friends Animal Society. Many stories have been heard for the past few years, about things there not being quite as advertised. In their Dogtown series at
they describe the "real" Dogtown and say,
"Breakfast in the morning, treats in the afternoon, nice walks, and lots of afternoon snoozes.
It’s like a giant summer camp for dogs! Everyone’s really nice to you, and there are lots of new faces everywhere. Dog faces, people faces. But they’re all happy. And there’s none of the fear that was all around you before."
But, in the past years those other stories have grown and many of their donors are bringing up questions on the Best Friends forums. Questions about what Best Friends is saying. Questions about omitted details and honesty. For several months now, on their dog forums, Best Friends has been deleting many of these posts. Now, they've started doing the same deletions on their News Blogs. More and more, it seems to appear that publicity and donations are their primary aim and that the welfare of the animals now comes second.
While still better than some small shelters, little of what they said above about the "real" Dogtown seems to be really true at Dogtown. After looking at walk lists at their Sanctuary and talking to people, I have to say that I've never really been at a summer camp where I was ignored for weeks at a time, while at the same time other people wrote about me by name, with all the walks and attention I was getting. The very friendly dogs and those with publicity get a lot of attention, but only them. I also spoke with some of their former staff, or tried to do so. Most are afraid to say anything and some even explained why.
After recently firing their previous CEO, perhaps things will change for the better once they find a new one. I certainly hope so, as so many people feel they are among the best. Maybe some day that will be true again. In the meantime, I see struggling local shelter who get no help from them and that's where I'm headed.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
people learning more about animal issues and treatment, some groups of needing animals being rescues, and small shelters and issues being ignored.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Put a bit more of that 35 Million into improving their Sanctuary and getting some management there who have some management experience. Change the priority from publicity to animal care.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
The pigs are simply darling! The people there and the care is so great, as with the horses and birds. Some dog area are really nice and fun to work at.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Most very nice and polite, answering all my questions, though many answers were different. After a few days there, my continued questions seemed to provoke a hesitant and maybe scared response from several people.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
They have over 35 million bucks now, but I saw outdated food being served to dogs and staff too busy to socialize dogs. Now the pigs, they've got it really nice.
Ways to make it better...
Much better if I had stayed with the pigs. A few dogs areas were nice and most visitors were sent there, but the others could have used more staff (and fresher food).
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
Finding a new CEO (last one was fired) who can turn the place around.
One thing I'd also say is that...
I dearly hope and pray that one day they mange to come much closer to the beautiful image they advertise. They still do much good, but that change would be so very much better.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Professional with expertise in this field & Visit, volunteer with animals.