Best Friends Animal Society

The Canyon Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Calls Home

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By Barb Williamson

There simply is no other place like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the heart and the home of a national movement to stop the killing of dogs and cats in our nation’s animal shelters simply because they do not have a safe place to call home. In 2020, as we celebrate the Kanab Sesquicentennial and this town’s colorful history, it is good to also reflect on Best Friends’ own history which led the founders to their own one-of-a-kind location nearby in the canyon cut by the desert arroyo, Kanab Creek. This same canyon is now affectionately known as Angel Canyon. In 1984, a group of people made a leap of faith to realize a vision that they had long shared – to create a sanctuary for abandoned and abused animals. This was the logical extension of the rescue and advocacy work they had been doing for years. Little did they appreciate that their endeavor would catapult them to the forefront of a fledging movement to end the killing of 17 million dogs and cats who were dying in our nation’s shelters at that time. With little money, no master plan, few construction skills and countless lives hanging in the balance, they set out to address a local aspect of a much larger problem. What they created – with invaluable help from many in the community of Kanab – instead was the largest no-kill companion animal sanctuary in the country and a national movement to end the killing of companion animals. That group of friends who cared so deeply about animals grew and flourished and became Best Friends Animal Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and animal welfare society. Best Friends now leads a rapidly growing network of public charity rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations, shelters and like-mind individuals actively saving lives and reducing shelter deaths locally. At the heart of this movement is where it was founded, in Angel Canyon, a natural marvel of geology and nature. The soaring red rock cliffs, abundant wildlife and fascinating skies have a way of sticking in people’s memories once they’ve been here. The Sanctuary is nestled between the sprawling red rocks of Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, and adjacent as well to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. But above all, it is an animal lover’s paradise. The scale of the sanctuary itself blows the minds of first-time visitors every time. It sprawls out over some 3,700 acres and gives refuge to about 1,600 animals on any given day. Whether a first-time visitor, the director of a local animal shelter looking for advice and support, students devoting their spring break to working with animals, animal shelter volunteers who come for inspiration and ideas to take home to help their community’s animals, each person who comes finds something to put in their heart and take home. For more information on visiting and volunteering, and how you can become part of the lifesaving team for your local community and Best Friends, please visit

Best Friends Animal Society : Kanab, Utah Area Guide :

The welcome center at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Photo by Best Friends Staff.

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