When I was a child growing up and attending elementary school in Iowa, I had a best friend named Shelly. In Junior High and High School my best friend was named JoAnn; in college, it was Cindy, and as a young woman, my roommate Lisa became like the sister I never had. All of these best friends had one thing in common: they accepted me for who I was – no judgments, no trying to change me, no ulterior motives. That’s rare these days in human beings. I remain good friends with each of these ladies yet today, and I am thankful for them.
In our pets, we find the above-noted traits and countless others: loyalty, affection, acceptance, friendship, love. And, companion animals waiting for a home and people of their own have best friends in the staff and volunteers at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Located in Kanab, Utah, Best Friends Animal Society and Sanctuary provides a home for dogs, cats, horses, rabbit, birds, pigs, goats, and numerous other species while those animals await permanent, loving homes.
Best Friends became best friends to animals affected by Hurricane Katrina, saving them and finding new homes for them. They were – and still are -- best friends to the dogs traumatized by the Michael Vick dog fighting ring – Best Friends gave them a new, better, loving life. Best Friends takes in feline leukemia cats, blind dogs, and swayback horses. They work with those who fear and distrust humans due to cruelty, neglect and/or abandonment. Best Friends staff and volunteers love, accept, work with, and help the animals many would ignore, devalue, and kill.
Best Friends Animal Society turns 30 years old this year. I was blessed to spend just a few short hours at the sanctuary for tours, and I came away inspired, awed, and with a new resolve to help however I can. The people, place, animals, and organizational mission is inspiring and awe-striking.
I’ve been blessed with several furry best friends: Sam, Ama, Sage, Cody, Mary, Murphy, Bailey – each an individual, just like each person is an individual. And yet, every day 9,000 individual lives are killed in shelters every day, not because they are ill but because we humans don’t value their lives. We give them up because we’re moving, having a baby, lack time (or so we say) or don’t spay/neuter them to prevent litters. In other words, because we don’t take responsibility for their care: those animals that depend on us just as a human baby/child does are viewed as disposable or an inconvenience, not as an individual life for which we are responsible. It’s time to wake up, people, and view all life as a gift from the Creator who made each person, each animal as an individual, and when He created, He called that creation “good.”
Be a Best Friend – be a responsible pet owner – and be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves … just like Best Friends Animal Society. Learn more about No More Homeless Pets and the Save Them All campaigns at www.bestfriends.org. Let’s be the caring, kind, compassionate, benevolent people we are created to be and value and cherish the individual lives the Creator made and blessed – after all, He called them, and us, all of His creation “good.”
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.