Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. To help Save Them All, Best Friends works with shelters, rescue groups and our members nationwide.

Best Friends began with a group of animal lovers who were unwilling to accept the conventional wisdom that shelters had no choice but to kill “unadoptable” animals. These future founders of Best Friends banded together and started rescuing animals from shelters, where the animals’ luck was about to run out. Providing proper care, love and patience, the group of friends helped these homeless animals heal and find loving forever families. The animals who weren’t ready for adoption spent their days romping in the new sanctuary, called Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which was established by the founders in the early 1980s.

The Sanctuary grew in size and scope, and eventually became Best Friends Animal Society. Today, besides running the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, Best Friends provides adoption, spay/neuter and educational programs nationwide; manages the Best Friends Network, comprising of thousands of animal welfare organizations working toward no-kill; and publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation’s largest and most beloved general-interest animal magazine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many animals live at the Sanctuary?

The Sanctuary is home on any given day to around 1,600 animals, many of whom have special needs. Most of the animals are dogs and cats; the rest are horses, birds, rabbits, potbellied pigs, and an assortment of other animals.

Where do the animals come from?

Most of the animals come from Best Friends Network partners, which are located all around the country.

What is a "no-kill" sanctuary?

It's a sanctuary for homeless pets where animals are able to stay for as long as it takes them to find loving homes. Animals may still be euthanized humanely if they are irredeemably sick or injured, but they are not killed in order to make space for more animals.

What happens to the animals who are brought there?

Most of them are soon ready to go to good homes with loving families, making way for new arrivals. For the small number of animals who are never ready for adoption, the Sanctuary is their home for life.

Where is the Sanctuary?

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in the majestic red-rock country of southern Utah, just outside the town of Kanab. The Sanctuary is situated near several scenic wonders, including Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell. Angel Canyon, where the Sanctuary is located, is a mecca for people who love animals and nature. The canyon is world-famous as the backdrop for dozens of movie and TV westerns going back to the 1950s. Thousands of years before cowboys set eyes on Angel Canyon, the ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) people built a peaceful and enduring culture, leaving many ancient dwellings and petroglyphs.

What activities for the public are available at the Sanctuary?

You’re welcome to tour Best Friends and visit with the animals throughout the year. Full tours take about an hour and a half, and should be scheduled in advance. More than 30,000 visitors come to the Sanctuary each year. 

Volunteers are always welcome at the Sanctuary, and they are a vital part of helping the animals to get ready for new homes. Volunteers come from all over, and spend time working with the animals and giving them personal attention. Please make arrangements to volunteer before you arrive. Student and intern programs are also available. 

Best Friends Animal Society, in partnership with Southern Utah University, now offers a three-month hybrid course called, “Running a Lifesaving Sanctuary: Taking Your Vision to Fulfillment.”

What is Save Them All?

Save Them All is Best Friends’ call to action. We believe that together with you, we can end the killing of homeless pets in America’s shelters by 2025. 

In 2023, more than 1,000 dogs and cats were killed in our nation’s shelters every day, simply because they didn't have safe places to call home. But all across the country, grass-roots organizations, animal welfare groups and local governments are abandoning the idea that killing homeless pets is an inevitable and acceptable “necessary evil.” For more information about how to Save Them All in your community, visit

Is the goal to Save Them All realistic?

Absolutely. When Best Friends was founded in 1984, some 17 million animals died every year in our nation’s shelters. In 2023, that number was down to 380,000. We believe that by working together, we can reduce that number to zero. 

For more than 35 years, Best Friends has been working to end the killing by running innovative grassroots programs, supporting spay/neuter and trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNR) programs, promoting shelter adoptions, fighting puppy mills and breed-specific laws, educating the public about animal issues, holding major adoption events, and conducting both large- and small-scale animal rescues. 

Additionally, the Best Friends Network brings together thousands of animal welfare organizations across the country to help save as many lives as possible. Together, we won’t stop until we Save Them All.

What are some of the things that are helping to Save Them All?

Best Friends initiatives
Best Friends has three lifesaving initiatives that were launched to help Save Them All:

  • Community cat initiatives: Promoting TNR for community (stray, free-roaming) cats and keeping them safe and out of shelters.
  • Puppy mill initiatives: Educating the public about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores, helping to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores and encouraging adoption.
  • Pit bull terrier initiatives: Challenging breed restrictions and making sure that all dogs are treated as individuals.

Best Friends Network
This Best Friends program comprises nonprofit rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations and shelters that are actively saving lives and reducing the number of animals being killed in their communities. The program offers network partners many benefits, including grants, fundraising opportunities, adoption promotions, discounts to conferences and consultations with Best Friends staff.

Regional programs
Best Friends is expanding across the country, with regional centers now established in Utah, Los Angeles, and New York City. Collaborating with shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations in these areas, Best Friends focuses on helping to Save Them All by reducing the number of animals entering shelters and increasing the number of animals leaving shelters alive.

NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles)
Launched by Best Friends in April 2012, the NKLA initiative aims to make Los Angeles a no-kill city. The NKLA Coalition, led by Best Friends, comprises more than 100 animal welfare organizations working together toward that goal. Residents of Los Angeles are encouraged to help turn L.A. into NKLA by adopting, fostering, volunteering, and spaying or neutering their pets.

NKUT (No-Kill Utah)
In 2014, Best Friends launched the NKUT initiative as the final push to end the killing of pets in Utah shelters for good. NKUT is possible because of the dedicated individuals, city shelters and dozens of animal welfare organizations that make up the NKUT Coalition.

Best Friends National Conference
With the goal of motivating people to save more animal lives and giving them the tools to do so, Best Friends has been holding national conferences since 2001. Formerly called the No More Homeless Pets Conference, the Best Friends National Conference brings together leaders of the no-kill movement; experts in animal care and behavior, marketing, fundraising and other fields; staff and volunteers from shelters and rescue groups; and animal lovers who want to make a difference.

Resources and consulting services
Free information on pet care and behavior, as well as how-to guides for humane groups and individuals who want to get involved in helping animals, are available at In addition, Best Friends staff members provide free consulting services for our Best Friends Network partners.

How is news about Best Friends’ work shared?

The Best Friends website is updated frequently with good news from the Sanctuary and from groups and individuals across the country who are working to Save Them All. The website also provides resources for organizations and compassionate individuals who are helping to save animals’ lives.

We also share news about our work via Best Friends magazine, the nation’s largest general-interest animal magazine, with a circulation of about 250,000. A bimonthly full-color publication that’s free to Best Friends members, the magazine contains news about Best Friends programs and initiatives, compelling features on topics of interest to pet lovers, and delightful stories about happenings at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter providing stories from the Sanctuary and other Best Friends news.

How is the work of Best Friends funded?

Best Friends Animal Society is funded mostly by the donations of members and well-wishers. We also receive some funding from foundations and businesses. Donations to Best Friends are tax-deductible. Our accounts are fully audited, and the annual report is available here.

How many members does Best Friends have?

There are currently more than 250,000 Best Friends members.

Is Best Friends affiliated with any other organizations?

Best Friends is not formally affiliated with other animal welfare groups, but works cooperatively with hundreds of other organizations. There are several businesses and other charities that include the words “Best Friends” in their titles, but they are most often not affiliated with Best Friends Animal Society.

Has Best Friends received any recent commendations?

Yes, Best Friends Animal Society is proud to be an award-winning animal welfare organization.