BOOKS: Best Friends
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2001:
Best Friends by Samantha Glen
The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
Kensington Books (850 3rd Ave., New York, NY 10022), 2001.
284 pages, paperback. $15.00.
Like every successful institution, the Best Friends Animal
Sanctuary has a few critics–but most have never been there. They
just have difficulty believing, based on their own experience, that
any no-kill sanctuary can accomplish what Best Friends does.
Somehow, they insist, there is trickery involved. Best Friends,
in their view, must be some kind of weird desert cult, fooling
everyone and getting away with it because the site is so remote.
If you cannot visit, as thousands actually have, to see for
yourself why Samantha Glen calls Best Friends “the world’s most
beloved animal sanctuary,” her book Best Friends is the next best
We have visited Best Friends. We knew most of the Best
Friends key personnel long before Samantha Glen did, and met most of
the animals she describes. Her account is both vivid and accurate.
This may disappoint those who would prefer to believe the
bizarre stories circulated at a distance, but the plain truth,
self-evident from a site visit, is that the Best Friends people aome
together more than 20 years ago to seek means of healing the world,
and found their mission in rescuing animals.
Starting the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Prescott,
Arizona, in 1982, they relocated to Angel Canyon near Kanab, Utah,
in 1987, and have been building the sanctuary bit by bit ever since.
All of the original people are still involved. Despite the usual
quotient of interpersonal stresses among them, they are still best
friends. Others have joined them in the same spirit.
Dirt-poor at first, Best Friends was among the
fastest-growing animal protection organizations of the past decade,
boosted by the Best Friends good news magazine. The first edition
appeared just about the same time as the first edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE. As professional skeptics, we have twitted editor Michael
Mountain ever since about the distortions that occur when one tries
to report only the bright side of everything. Instead of becoming
annoyed, Mountain et al tell people to read ANIMAL PEOPLE too.
The Best Friends circulation is now more than five times
ours–and their referrals have long been among our most important
sources of new subscribers.
This is typical of the Best Friends “stone soup” approach,
helping others as they help themselves. Best Friends is now the
largest no-kill organization between the San Francisco SPCA on the
west coast and the North Shore Animal League America on the east;
supplies much of the leadership in the push backed by Maddie’s Fund
and PETsMART, among others, to achieve “no more homeless pets”;
and is a most encouraging example of what can be done by upstarts
with imagination, effort, endurance, and a cooperative attitude.