Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society, founded in its present form in 1993,[1] is an American nonprofit 501(c)(3)[5] animal welfare organization. The group does outreach nationwide with shelters, rescue groups and members to promote pet adoption, no-kill animal rescue, and spay-and-neuter practices.[8]

Best Friends Animal Society
FoundedAugust 12, 1993; 26 years ago (1993-08-12)[1][2]
FoundersFrancis Battista, Judah Battista, Silva Battista, Gregory Castle, Gabriel Depeyer, Jana Depeyer[3]
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[5]
FocusAnimal welfare, animal rights
Coordinates37°07′33″N 112°32′37″W / 37.125773°N 112.543697°W / 37.125773; -112.543697Coordinates: 37°07′33″N 112°32′37″W / 37.125773°N 112.543697°W / 37.125773; -112.543697
OriginsFoundation Faith of the Millennium;
Process Church of the Final Judgment
Julie Castle[6]
Francis Battista[6]
Marc A. Peralta[4]
SubsidiariesBest Friends Productions LLC,
1089 Wykoff LLC,
307 West Broadway LLC,
Chuff LLC,
Amber Housing LLC, Best Friends Wellness Center Inc[4]
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$81,852,232[4]
Employees (2015)
Volunteers (2015)
Formerly called
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


The group originated in Arizona in 1971,[9] developing from The Foundation Faith of the Millennium, a religious group formerly known as the Process Church of the Final Judgment.[10]

The Foundation church relocated animals from its Arizona ranch to property in Kanab, Utah, in 1984.[11] In 1991, the church was renamed Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which became a tax-exempt, nonprofit charity, and in 2003 renamed Best Friends Animal Society.[12]

Animal sanctuaryEdit

After the Foundation church moved to its current grounds in 1984, the founders eventually began informally calling it "Best Friends" until 1991 when it began formally operating as Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter[13] located in Southwestern Utah in Angel Canyon (formerly Kanab Canyon) near Kanab.[14]

The sanctuary is on 3,700 acres (15 km2) with an additional 33,000 acres (130 km2) leased from the United States Bureau of Land Management near Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon's North Rim, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Lake Powell. The sanctuary is home to around 1,500 homeless animals.[15]

National Geographic Channel's DogTown series was filmed at the sanctuary.[16]

Los Angeles shelterEdit

In August 2011, the city of Los Angeles contracted Best Friends to operate and manage its Northeast Valley Shelter, which the city could no longer afford to run. Under the contract, Best Friends was to provide adoptions for shelter animals and spay and neuter services for the community.[17][18]


The group publishes Best Friends, a bimonthly magazine about animals, animal welfare, news events, and activities at the sanctuary. The magazine, which is distributed free to members, has 200,000 subscribers.[19] Originating as Foundation magazine in 1975 with its interview of Charles Manson referred to as the "death" issue,[20] the first edition of Best Friends magazine was published in 1993, two years after the religious group became an animal sanctuary.[21]

Hurricane Katrina workEdit

Best Friends teams entered the hurricane disaster area on September 2, 2005, and stayed eight months in and around New Orleans.[22] Best Friends did not have a significant presence doing animal disaster rescue or recovery work until Katrina.

The organization's official role post-Hurricane Katrina was that of a primary animal rescue organization.[23][24]

Also after Katrina, Best Friends helped Pets Alive, an animal shelter in New York state, and rescuing around 800 cats from an institutional hoarding situation in Nevada.[25] Best Friends also assisted local animal rescue groups following the Peruvian earthquakes of 2007.[26]

Michael Vick dogsEdit

In 2007, Best Friends took in 22 of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick's 47 fighting dogs after petitioning the state of Virginia to save the dogs seized from the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation.[27] The dogs, once owned by NFL Quarterback Michael Vick, were expected to be euthanized for fear of aggressive behavior.[28] Seven shelters took in the remaining 25 dogs. The court ordered Vick to pay $928,073 in restitution for the “past, present and long-term care of all the dogs.” The court allocated $5,000 for dogs deemed likely to be adopted, and $18,275 for each of the dogs that went into longer-term or lifetime sanctuary care at Best Friends.[27][29]

In December 2008, Georgia, a former Vick dog, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with Best Friends dog trainer John Garcia.[30] The two also appeared on CNN's Larry King Live.[31]

Rehabilitation of the Vick dogs appeared in an episode of National Geographic Channel's series DogTown. DogTown's producer, Darcy Dennett, later approached Best Friends about a feature-length documentary on the same story.[32]

Released in October 2015, The Champions is a documentary that covers the stories of five dogs and their impact they had had on their adopters and how society looks at pit bulls rescued from fighting cases.[33] The film received the 2015 Zelda Penzel "Giving Voice to the Voiceless" award at Hamptons International Film Festival.[34] The film also features the work of both Best Friends Animal Society and BAD RAP, an Oakland-based animal welfare rescue group. FilmRise acquired film rights in November 2015.[35] It was released through community screenings[36] and became available digitally in March 2016.[37]

Community cat programsEdit

In August 2008, Best Friends and PetSmart Charities funded a program called "Feral Freedom" for free-roaming community cats in Jacksonville, Florida.[38][39] The program was conceived by Rick Ducharme of First Coast No More Homeless Pets.

Similar programs were funded with a grant from PetSmart Charities and implemented by Best Friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico; DeKalb County, Georgia; San Antonio, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Osceola County, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;[40] and other communities.[41] In St. George, Utah, the city partnered with Best Friends on a trap-neuter-return program in January 2013.[42]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Scott, Cathy; Myers, Clay (2008). Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned. Howell Book House. ISBN 978-0-470-22851-7.
  • Glen, Samantha (2001). Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary. Kensington. ISBN 978-1-57566-735-5.
  • Dogtown: A Sanctuary for Rescued Dogs. Sellers Publishing. 2008. pp. 80. ISBN 978-1-4162-0526-5.
  • Wyllie, Timothy (2009). Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932595-37-6.


  1. ^ a b "Process Church/Best Friends Articles of Incorporation". Louisiana Secretary of State.
  2. ^ "Best Friends Animal Society". Entity Details. Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Meet the Founders". Best Friends Animal Society. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Best Friends Animal Society. Guidestar. September 30, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Best Friends Animal Society". Exempt Organizations Select Check. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Leadership". Best Friends Animal Society. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "Our Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles". Best Friends Animal Society. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "Article, American Dog Magazine, "Los Angeles Programs Saves Lives in the Entertainment Capital of the World"". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Charity Navigator - IRS Data for Best Friends Animal Society".
  10. ^ Timothy Wyllie (2009). Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932595-37-6.
  11. ^ Glen, Samantha (2001). Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary. Kensington. ISBN 978-1-57566-735-5.
  12. ^ "Friends Find Their Calling". Rocky Mountain News. February 28, 2004.(pay-per-view article)
  13. ^ "AR-News: (UT) Best Friends a haven for unwanted animals". Archived from the original on 2006-05-12. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  14. ^ "Best Friends, an Animal Sanctuary with a Difference, with Faith Maloney, by Diane Cooper".
  15. ^ "Voluntourism - Peter Greenberg Travel Detective". 26 May 2007.
  16. ^ DogTown | Dogtown- National Geographic Channel Archived January 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Los Angeles Times, "Los Angeles to hand over animal shelter to nonprofit group," August 17, 2011". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Nonprofit to run city shelter". Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  19. ^ "A close look at Best Friends Animal Society". Albert Lea Tribune. April 25, 2009. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014.
  20. ^ Kilzer, Lou (February 28, 2004). "Friends find their calling". Reprinted from the Rocky Mountain News.
  21. ^ "The Process Church Timeline (magazine history, page 22)" (PDF).
  22. ^ Perkins, Nancy (1 September 2007). "Art spotlights rescue of New Orleans pets".
  23. ^ Manning, Anita (September 3, 2005). "Animal welfare groups rescue abandoned pets". USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  24. ^ "Shaggy survivors still hanging on after Katrina - Health - Pet health - NBC News". NBC News. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Volunteers say justice not served". Pahrump Valley Times. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  26. ^ "Salt Lake Tribune". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  27. ^ a b Rhoden, William C. (12 March 2008). "Vick Case Exposes Rift Among Animal-Rights Advocates". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  28. ^ "A History of Dogfighting".
  29. ^ NBC "Nightly News," "Michael Vick's Dogs Get A Second Chance," May 20, 2009
  30. ^ ""DogTown's John Garcia Shares His Story," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," December 15, 2008". EllenTV. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  31. ^ "CNN transcripts, "Larry King Live," "Does Michael Vick Deserve A Second Chance?" with Best Friends' John Garcia and former fighting dog Georgia". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  32. ^ "HIFF 2015: Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights - Hamptons International Film Festival".
  33. ^ "The Champions plot synopsis, IMDb".
  34. ^ "HIFF 2015: Awards".
  35. ^ "FilmRise Nabs Worldwide Rights To Pit Bull Rescue Documentary 'The Champions'".
  36. ^ "Tugg, The Champions".
  37. ^ "The Champions Documentary website".
  38. ^ "First Coast No More Homeless Pets - Annual Report" (PDF).
  39. ^ ""Program gives feral cats shot at freedom: More than 1,200 strays have been spayed or neutered - and saved from euthanasia," Tia Mitchell, The Florida Times-Union, November 20, 2008". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  40. ^ "City shelter wins $700k grant to save cats", Amy Worden, The Inquirer, August 25, 2014.
  41. ^ "First Coast No More Homeless Pets Annual Report 10.01.12-9.30.13", at p. 9.
  42. ^ "St. George, Best Friends working together to save lives of community cats", Best Friends Animal Society, January 08, 2014.

External linksEdit