I finally had the chance to visit the Sanctuary, and I'm glad I did. I can honestly say that they must hire their staff based on how nice they are, because everyone seemed *earnestly* happy that you were there. (warning if you go: it gets HOT in july.)
Coming from the northeast I'm used to seeing dogs running around in grass, so it was a bit shocking to see them running around on that red earth. My first thoughts were "aren't they hot?" But I volunteered at Dogtown and none of the dogs seemed uncomfortable. It's a little depressing to see how many dogs are there, especially the older ones that are going to have such a hard time being adopted. But I suppose that's better than being in a shelter.
And if you do go stay at the sanctuary.... VOLUNTEER AT THE PIG AREA! It's wonderful!!
Review from CharityNavigator
I have been a supporter for many years, and finally was able to spend a week volunteering this summer. The experience far exceeded my expectations. Every staff member we met, without exception, was incredibly dedicated to making sure that the animals in their care received the best care possible, including daily walks, outings, socialization, training, diet, medical care, etc. Even caretakers who worked in other areas would know the names and history of dogs that I was walking, as I passed them by. I witnessed the elation of caretakers when one of their dogs left to go to their forever home, and the deep sadness when one dog lost her battle with cancer while I was there. They put the needs of these dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and others ahead of their own, and have created a true sanctuary, in every sense of the word. The staff members were also incredibly welcoming and patient with the volunteers, including those of us who hadn't been there before and had tons of questions.
I have visited two separate times and stayed for a week each time - staying in the cabins near the Horse Headquarters. Went with family members and had the best experiences ever! Walking dogs, grooming and feeding horses, taking dogs for overnights, cleaning enclosures, sitting with nervous dogs trying to help acclimate them to human beings, playing with cats and cleaning kitty enclosures - the list of opportunities to help just goes on and on - each one better than the last! The staff are absolutely incredible! they know each animal by name, all of their quirks, what their individual needs are. I am an animal rescuer myself ( exotic cats from the entertainment industry ) and know how hard these people work. Everyone should give them 5 stars!
Disregard any quacks who indicate this is other than a sterling operation that has withstood audits, investigations, slander and libel only to remain at the top of the game. Over 100,000 volunteers contribute labor annually. Their founder Michael Mountain takes a meager salary of $40,000+ annually. Try living on that in Kanab! The Humane Society and other organizations work hand in hand with BF as do global animal rights organizations and activists.
Those who say otherwise have another agenda possibly due to envy or rejection as a poor employee or scam artist.
Best Friends is an evil scam and a big money maker. Some of the volunteers think it is great, but they are the kind of people that gladly drank the Jim Jones Kool Aid. The money goes to the old "Process Church of the Final Judgement". This is who founded Best Friends. If you think they are good people, Then do the research and look them up. Stopped being fool by the cute fuzzy animal slick ads.
I am curious about the specifics relating to $30,026,237 of Annual Expenses, since Best Friends uses volunteers. What are the itemized annual expense items and amounts? What are the itemized details relating of the Net Assets of $27,385,285? Is the property leased arms-length to Best Friends by a third party or is a principal getting lease rent payments? If so, how much is the lease rent payment? If the property is owned by Best Friends, was sold it to Best Friends in an arms-length transaction or did a principal make a profit? If so, how much was the profit? What disclosures have been made by Best Friends to their contributors regarding the expenses, the assets and the property ownership
Review from CharityNavigator
As both a volunteer and a donor I have worked in the field for rescue operations as well as visitng/interviewing at the Kabab site. Best Friends is an AMAZING place. The canyon is the most peaceful setting I have ever been in. The volunteers and mid-level staff are exceptionally dedicated and talented. And of course, the animals, magnificent and take your heart away. I have volunteer on the Pup My Ride projects. Also amazing and made me feel as though I was truly helping the dogs. The staff was tireless in their efforts as was the transport organization. I have worked as an executive in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years and I know the challenges faced by management. However, I will say that there is certainly a deification of the Founders, and they suck up every bit of it as egos and personalities expand expotentiallly. They need to diversity their leadership as to dispel both the myth and reality of a cult like atmosphere among the 19 Founders. The CEO that they brought in from the outside several years ago fought a gallant battle to bring new energy and effort to the cause. However, he is gone because, among other things, he questioned the founding fathers and mothers. BFAS does amazing work and lets many people find a place for their passion and compassion to be realized. However, it is time for the Founders to pass the torch. Otherwise, the effort begins to seem more like self-angrandizement than selfless work.
Review from Guidestar
I first volunteered with Best Friends after Hurricane Katrina and have since volunteered in Pahrump, NV, as part of the Great Kitty Rescue of 800 abandonded cats, and also at the Sanctuary in Kanab several times. I live in NJ, so this is a significant commitment on my part. I have seen first hand the dedication of the staff, several of whom have become friends, and opened their hearts and homes to me.
I've visited Best Friends Animals Sanctuary twice for a week each. I've never been to a more magical place. I walked different dogs every day, even taking one on a day trip to the North Rim. I played with cats (offered to clean but the guy working there said he would clean if I wouldn't mind just socializing them :) And I got to pet one cat that had previously not let anyone touch her. A year later she was adopted!!!) The dogs are fed separately so that notations can be made if any dog isn't finishing their food. Cat have multiple feeding stations so the scared ones can eat up in the rafters if they want. They all have beds and toys. One year I wanted to adopt a dog from there and the lady in charge of adoptions was SO wonderful and patient with me. I asked a million questions and when I decided to adopt from a local shelter (since a Best Friends animal is so cared for and won't be put to sleep) she was very happy with my decision instead of being upset with all the time she spent with me. I got to help trainers with an unruly dog. He learned some cool stuff with me! A local dog was being mistreated and Best Friends worked with local law enforcement to take care of him. I even took dogs on overnighters and would fill out paperwork in the morning (where dog slept, did he bark, was he afraid of anything) so potential adopters would know this info up front. I can't wait to go back!!!
Best Friends is no longer a honest organization. They like HSUS and PETA decieve people into believing they love animals. Nothing is futher from the truth. They love money and fame.
Best Friends, or Worst Friends as I prefer to call them, is a fraud. They sit on thousands of acres of land and millions of dollars in the bank, but do ABSOLUTLY NOTHING for the local community. We are in dire need of a local animal shelter in Kanab, but will Worst Friends help? You have got to be kidding! They would rather spend money on saving animals in Lebanon, Peru, the Michael Vick pit bulls, etc. Why? Because it is great publicity and rakes in the dollars. Kanab and Kane County need an animal shelter and if Worst Friends would actually live up to their Best Friends title they would provide it. One of the Founders was once overheard to say that in addition to the to the land at the sanctuary itself, they also had title to a large amount of acreage very remote. This land cannot be used for sanctuary purposes becuase of its location and it's understood that you need a 4WD to get access to it. Why do they have this additional land? Remember, the people were originally known as the Process Church so is this property used to hide religious ceremonies from public view? With Worst Friends almost anything is possible!
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 http://www.bestfriends.org/dogtown/index.cfm?csid=2759&csii=2763&csit=Set 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. http://bestfriendz.wordpress.com/ http://animalliberationfront.com/AR_Orgs/Best Friends-beginnings.htm http:/kanab.net/BFWF http://circlesphere.blogspot.com/