Thanks to one cousin’s love of helping pets in shelters, Aunt A discovered Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which was only about 90 minutes away from the house where we were staying in Utah.
Some of us signed up to tour “Dog Town,” others signed up to do the “Grand Sanctuary Tour,” and Buds and three of the older cousins decided to hang out and wait for us while we did our tours.
We carpooled over to the Sanctuary, and we were lucky enough to have the cousin that was the main impetus for this tour riding with us. We left ahead of everyone else because we wanted time to stop to get coffee at the beginning of our drive.
It’s a good thing we left early.
We counted on the internal GPS in the new van to get us there. Unlike Google maps, it does not automatically assume you would like to take the quickest route and/or interstates. The internal GPS wants you to enjoy your life by taking the scenic route.
This meant we got to Best Friends by driving through Zion. It was gorgeous and amazing, but it was not fast.
You know what will slow down your drive through the mountains on a two-lane road?
Following a camper.
We arrived after everyone else, shortly before our tour was to begin.
I had an awesome seat mate, who took lots of pictures for us on the tour.
The Sanctuary was founded by a group of friends 35 years ago with the goal of a safe haven for animals of all sorts, and to end the killing of animals in shelters across the country which was a main source of animal population control at the time.
Best Friends has Dog Town, Cat World, Horse Haven, Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, Parrot Garden, Bunny House, and Wild Friends areas. Housing close to 1600 animals, they have a variety of tour vans to drive groups all over the facility, plus hundreds of volunteer options. It is truly a unique place.
Our Dog Town tour began in doggy admissions where new dogs (Not puppies, they begin in a different facility.) start their stay. This gives the staff time to see what their issues might be, the vets get to examine them, and it gives the dogs time to settle in.
One of the dog behaviorists brought one of the dogs in to show us how they use positive training to help the dogs learn how to do well with those behaviors that will help them get adopted.
It’s tough to walk past the doors with all those sweet faces staring at you, hopeful and longing.
You can see in the picture above that one of the doors has a curtain over it. Some of the dogs find it very stressful to have people looking in at them.
There was even a door that was covered, plus it had a gate in addition to the door and curtain. There was a red stop sign indicating it shouldn’t be entered, and in my mind I was sure a hound from Hell was behind the door.
But of course, it would have just been a terrified pupper, fighting for its survival in whatever way it could.
They take all sorts of animals here, including ones who won’t be able to be re-homed. They got over 20 dogs from the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, and not all of them were able to be saved.
They have an area for elderly dogs; and our favorite part of the tour, the building for the puppies!
This room is set up to mimic a home with a kitchen area, hard plastic couch, television, vacuum cleaner, things that make noise in a home to help ensure the puppies have had positive exposure to help them prepare to live with their furever families.
The dogs also have gorgeous outdoor play spaces.
After our tour, we met back up with the rest of our tribe at the main office and gift shop and we headed to Coral Pink Sand Dunes to explore non-petrified sand.
Walking in shifting sand is a totally different experience than walking on petrified sand. Some of our group tried the sand surfing, which was a trip to see.
Another full day in Utah.