Every year for spring break, my nieces and nephew choose to donate their free time to volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab. I admire them so much for choosing to help animals in need instead of going on a vacation year after year. They have asked me to join them quite a few times and every year I have something that keeps me from going, but not this year! I was able to join them this year for the whole week, and learn all about this amazing place they love so much.
Kanab is about a 4.5 hour drive from Lehi, so Jenny and the kids picked me up on Sunday afternoon and we had a blast road tripping it down south.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in beautiful Angel Canyon, Utah and is home to over 1,600 homeless animals. The animals come to the sanctuary from far and wide. Some are ill, some have been neglected or abused, and all are homeless. But once they're at this animal safe haven, which is so much more than a no-kill animal shelter, they receive everything they need, physically, emotionally and psychologically, to thrive and find good homes. For those few who are never ready to take that next step, Best Friends is their safe haven for life. There really is nowhere else like this Sanctuary on earth.
The Sanctuary spans over 3,700 acres and there are seven different animal areas, Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise, Dog Town, Cat World, Parrot Garden, Wild Friends and The Bunny House. The Sanctuary is so large that visitors drive from one section to the next, it's huge!
We began on Monday morning by checking in at the visitors center and watching a short video about volunteering and how best to handle the animals.
There are tours available of each of the animal area, we had signed up to tour Piggy Paradise and a small section of Horse Haven on Monday morning.
Most of the pigs at Best Friends are Pot Belly Pigs, "Potbellied pigs can make wonderful pets. They’re highly intelligent, and yes, very clean! But pigs frequently lose their homes because of zoning laws that classify them as farm animals instead of pets, or because people don’t expect them to grow so big. The pigs at Marshall's Piggy Paradise at Best Friends have come to the Sanctuary because they were abandoned, ignored, hoarded or even outlawed. But here, they enjoy a short, squat, adorable piggy village with warm homes. They enjoy mud baths, healthy food and exercise, and most importantly, the love and attention they need, for as long as it takes them to find loving homes of their own."
Look at that sweet face!
Horse Haven is somewhat divided throughout the sanctuary with numerous pastures, we toured just a couple of pastures that are close by the piggies. Our tour got cut a little bit short because it was raining and was pretty cold. I got to volunteer with the horses later in the week so I will cover more about Horse Haven in another post.
After our tour it was time for lunch and we were excited to find somewhere nice and warm! We decided to try Nedra's Cafe, an authentic Mexican restaurant in town since we had a little bit longer lunch break today. It hit the spot! Jenny and I got navajo tacos that were so delicious.
After lunch, we had volunteer shift at Cat World.
"There are more than 700 cats at Cat World at Best Friends. It’s really a cat village, made of attractive houses along a quiet dirt road. Each house provides a free-roaming environment with indoor comfort and screened-in porches for cats with a wide variety of special needs. There’s a house just for cats with feline leukemia, as well as a suite for cats who are incontinent. Here, they all live a life of dignity, receiving the medical care, food, attention and love they need to heal from a hard life’s journey and prepare for permanent homes."
There are 8 different cat houses in Cat World, we were assigned to Colonel's Barracks today, which is the largest of the cat houses. Each volunteer shift is three hours long, we check in with the staff and see what they need help with. Afternoon shifts at Cat World usually consist of socializing and pampering the kitties.
Sam got to feed some of the kitties a very special treat, baby food on a little spoon.
There were so many pretty kitties!
When we walked outside after our shift was over, we were super surprised to see quite a bit of snow and it was still coming down pretty hard!
After our shift at Cat World we headed back to our hotel for the evening, luckily the kitty snuggles didn't have to end because Best Friends offers animal sleep overs! Volunteers can host an overnight guest from Cat World, Dog Town or The Bunny House after they have spent at least one shift volunteering in their specific area.
While animal sleep overs are obviously fun and rewarding for us volunteers, they are super helpful for the animals. It helps them not be afraid of traveling in their carriers, it helps them get used to a variety of environments, and it helps the Sanctuary staff know more about the animal’s behavior in a one-on-one situation in a home-like environment — behavior that may be very different from when they're around their Cat World or Dogtown friends.
We had a sleep over with a little sweetheart named Glenn, he is apparently pretty well known around the Sanctuary and everyone loves him, I am actually pretty surprised he isn't adopted yet. We were sent home with a litter box, litter, a scoop, dry food, wet food, a water bowl and a few toys.
Glenn was very social and warmed up to his new environment very quickly, I was a little nervous he was going to spend the whole evening under the bed like a lot of cats do, but he was out and about playing with all of us, he was such a little sweetie.