Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

In the morning we go back to the viewing platform and take a last look at the dunes.

The crew and I leave Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park around ten-thirty and backtrack toward Kanab.  Entering the Sanctuary is an experience in itself.  Massive, striated rock formations dazzle the eyes.  A short drive down the paved road we approach white-fenced pastures and large parking areas of white gravel in front of a building nestled on a hillside.

I turn into the “RV Parking” lot and the crew and I disembark.

The three of us walk around the grounds for a brief time, enough to give Bridget and Spike a chance to relieve themselves.  Then I take them back to the PTV while I walk up to the building to see what’s what.  I pass a lovely flower garden surrounding a grassy lawn with a pond of goldfish.   The sound of wind chimes floats through the air.  I open the door to a lobby leading to a gift shop.  The lady behind the counter asks brightly, “May I help you?”

I admit I know very little about the Sanctuary.

“We provide sanctuary for about 1,700 animals, including horses, donkeys, goats, potbellied pigs, dogs, cats, bunnies, ducks, and parrots.  At one-thirty and three o’clock we take people on tours to see the animals, their homes, and how they are cared for.  It’s a ninety-minute tour.  Are you interested in the tour?”

I tell her that I would love the tour,  and also that I have two small dogs with me.  She looks at her scheduling book.  “Oh, you won’t be able to take the tour at one-thirty.  There’s already someone with a dog riding in the van.  How about the tour at three?”

“No, that wouldn’t work for me,” I reply.  I need to get to a new campsite on the other side of Zion before dark  . . .  and there’s that tire posing a problem.

The lady intently scans her book. 

She obviously wants to accommodate us.  “You know, if you don’t mind waiting, there may be enough people for two vans to go out at one-thirty.  I can put you on a waiting list.”  I look at the clock on the wall behind her and see that it’s now 11:30.

“Sure.  Put us down.  Do you have any suggestions for what we can do in the meantime?” I ask.

“You could walk your dogs over to the horses, goats, and potbellied pigs.”  She explains where to walk and adds, “It’s about a five-minute walk.  Oh, and we show a video at one o’clock in the Media Room.”

I thank her, get the crew out of the PTV, and we walk the path lined with a white fence.

Not many animals are outside. The sun is high and it’s hot.  I snap a few photos at Horse Haven, a few more of the goats (which later I find aren’t presentable), and we continue on to Piggy Paradise.  Mercifully there is a chair in the shade.  I sit down and wait for some pigs to appear.  They don’t come out of their houses.  I don’t blame them. The heat is wearing me down. It’s not only taking a toll on me.  Spike is slowing down, too.

We go back to the PTV for a drink.

Then we sit in the shade at a picnic table by the pretty landscaping.  People keep arriving to the point where I’m confident a second van will be needed for the tour.  Several stop to say hello to the crew and ask questions about them.  Spike, Bridget, and I walk back to the PTV where we eat a snack while the camera charges.  I’m going to take lots of photos.  This is going to be great!  And the crew gets to ride on an air-conditioned van!   It’s almost one o’clock.  “Time to go, guys!”

The lady appears at my side window.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this sooner.  I didn’t think of it.  It’s a new rule.  There must be an adult for each dog.”  I pull the camera out of the dash outlet.  My heart sinks.

“Oh.”  I’m surprised at how disappointed I am and try to shake it off.  “That’s okay.  I understand.”

“And you can’t drive your trailer along behind us because there’s no place to park while we go in the buildings.  You’re still welcome to come up and watch the video.”

Spike, Bridget and I watch the video.

Actually, Spike falls into a deep sleep on the cool tile in the air-conditioned Media Room.  Bridget sits at my feet.

The video gives me a glimpse of what we are going to miss, and pulls at my heartstrings showing rescues from puppy mills, trapping of feral cats, and the housing, rehabilitation,, and adoptions of abused or neglected animals.  The announcer tells us an estimated 3- 4 million domestic animals are euthanized each year in the United States.  Did I hear that number right? Best Friends Animal Society has been, and continues to be, a driving force in the No More Homeless Pets animal welfare movement.

The video concludes with close-ups of grateful, loving animals with innocent eyes, some injured, all adorable.  

Looking at the photos while hearing the happy, booming soundtrack is nearly unbearable. “Then I saw your face!  Now I’m a believer… “Never a trace of doubt in my mind! . . . .”   I lower my head, cover my eyes, and try not to hear.

Everyone gets up to go outside and board the vans. 

I’m a wreck.  Now I’m not only feeling sorry for myself, but also for millions of helpless animals.  I check the crew.  Spike is still fast asleep.  Bridget’s confused.

The door opens and in comes another lady from the Sanctuary.  I ask her if it’s all right for us to sit here for a while.  I gesture toward Spike, “He needs to recuperate from the heat.”  She responds with “Of course!” and apologizes for the new rule.  I can tell from her manner that she sees I’m quite crestfallen in spite of my effort to look otherwise.

We leave Best Friends Animal Sanctuary around 1:45 p.m.  

Oh well, we tried.  Some things aren’t meant to be.

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Next  . . . Zion National Park and a new camp!


P.S.  Best Friends Animal Society is a remarkable organization doing important work. Did you know that if you volunteer at the Sanctuary, you can arrange to stay in one of their cabins or at their RV park?   Click on this link for more information:  

 Pause a moment to remember the sacrifices on this Memorial Day, 2012.


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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40 Responses to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

  1. hobopals says:

    I admire you, Sue. You always maintain your good nature. I hated the heat out there so much that I was within about 6 miles of the GC and turned around and decided not to go. I had been before and the distractions that go along with the visit left me unimpressed so it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. The ground was so hot I was afraid Jack would burn his paws. Not worth it. I high tailed it to the northwest. The only reason I was in Arizona was to meet my daughter who flew out to visit. What a mistake.

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      I can relate to your experience with the heat. I’ve found the best way to enjoy the Southwest when the days heat up is in the early morning and early evening. Slow down or come to a complete stop during the afternoon. Sometimes, though, like in my experience in today’s post, you are put in a position where you’re out in the heat. I try to avoid that for my sake and the crew’s.

  2. cathieok says:

    amazing place. Had no idea this was there. Thanks for posting about it. Too bad someone didn’t volunteer to sit beside you and be “an adult”.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It is amazing. 1,700 animals! I considered minimizing my experience there (skip the poor-little-ol-me theme). Then I decided to go ahead and tell the full story if only for the impact to bring attention to the plight of animals and the organization’s good work. I was tempted to ask someone to take one of the crew, temporarily as their own. Then I realized that’s too much to ask of someone, liability and all that.

  3. Marcia says:

    You behaved admirably. I would’ve pouted for at least an hour and maybe said something a little snarky to the attendant. I know it wasn’t her fault but they should know their policies on such things. Sounds like the video was very moving though.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The video did what it was designed to do … tear your heart out! I don’t think you would have been snarky. The ladies were obviously sick about me being left off the tour. They could see my friendly and well-behaved crew.

  4. earthdancerimages says:

    Are these animals all up for adoption??? Chuck and I totally believe the best breed is “rescued”. Our HoundHerd are all rescues! I am very sorry you didn’t get to see all you wanted to see at Best Friends, but I am very happy that you found a nice place in Zion! Geri

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Probably most of them are available for adoption. You can see adoptable animals at their website. The parrots (cockatiels, etc.) are interesting. They live to be about 80 yrs. old so they often become homeless more than once in their lives. Plus they are very intelligent, so Best Friends has to help them adjust to never seeing their owner again, which can take a long time. Then the parrots can be adopted.

      I think it’s important for us to have breeders of purebred dogs to preserve the qualities of a breed.. However, when people irresponsibly let animals reproduce, I can’t help but think…. For every new kitten or puppy, a home is lost for a kitten or puppy down at the pound who will have to be euthanized.

      Good for you for rescuing three wonderful dogs!

  5. What a difficult day. I know. you have a deep dedication to rescue animals. However it sounds like it may have been too hot for you and the crew to put out and about. I am sure the animals were seeking shade also. .

    Your pictures have been fantastic. I can’t get over what an amazing adventure you are on!!!! I love the way you love and appreciate the simple things. Museums, art/craft shows, festivals and such are really great but you don’t need them for entertainment. I can see the artist’s eye in your pictures, reminding me of your painting days as “Scarlett”. The colors, textures and natural beauty of the land is what catches your eye and that are the pictures I love the most.

    I am so proud of you…you just don’t know. I love you , My Dear Sister and pray that you, Nancy and I could have our own reunion.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline,

      Your comments are so sweet. Love is emanating from my monitor (which is a switch… Yesterday it wouldn’t let me post anything!). You’re right about entertainment. All you have to do is let your senses do the entertaining! I’m getting so much enjoyment each day that I haven’t opened one tube of my new paints. I say, “Tomorrow morning I’m going to set aside time to paint” and the morning comes and I get pulled into something else I want to do!

      Thanks for writing a lovely compliment. I miss you guys. . .

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I guess as pet owners, there are always limitations in all parts of life. I know we did a lot less when we had our dogs…was not easy to find a good place to leave them behind or some one to stay with them in the house, so we simply stayed home. But I would have hated to have missed having them all those years too. No easy answers. Good of you to post your experiences, as that may help others to know ahead of time, what they will do.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      I’m sure anyone can see from my blog that Bridget and Spike add more to my life than any number of restaurants, museums, tours, etc. that I have to avoid.

      You’re right about giving people a heads-up. It never occurred to me that two dogs would shut us out of a tour of an animal sanctuary. Somebody must have lost control of their dogs on a tour. As usual, a few affect the many.

  7. Greg and Jean says:

    Yeah it sure would have been nice for a ‘spare’ adult to come forward to temporarily ‘adopt’ Spike or Bridget for the ride…..alas…..too bad….you tried

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Few, if any, of the others knew why we were left behind. I didn’t think it right to ask anybody.

      • Thats to bad. I might have asked some friendly looking person. But, who knows, maybe not.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          The Sanctuary ladies could have asked the group for a volunteer to take one. They probably didn’t want a guest to take over someone else’s dog. That’s part of why I thought it best not to ask anyone. Didn’t want to put the Sanctuary people in the position to have to nix that, too.

  8. Debra says:

    I’m right there with everyone on all the comments already made. This whole experience made me very sad…. why didn’t someone step up as an alternate adult? Strange. I can’t watch such videos anymore, or visit “kill” shelters. It affects me for days.

    And I too admire you and all that you are doing. Have said it many times but it bodes repeating as a special hug to you – “You are a huge inspiration to me. Thank you for your blog!”

    I no longer have TV (by choice), but “Dogtown” was one of my favorite shows when it was on Animal Planet. I hope to make it to Best Friends Sanctuary one day, when I’m finally mobile, but currently I have THREE furbabies. Perhaps I should start creating adult cardboard cutouts now. 😉

    Love and hugZ to you and the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Debra, you make me chuckle over the cardboard cut-outs idea. If I tried that strategy, Spike and Bridget would tear those suckers to shreds!

      I’m happy my blog affects you in a positive way. I hope you do get out to Best Friends . . . on a cool, cool day!

  9. Oh Sue, I am heartbroken that you did not make the tour. I wish someone would have volunteered to stand in for one of the dogs. DARN!! I have volunteered at Best Friends many times over the last 12 years. It is such a wonderful experrience. Such a wonderful place. Yes, most of the animals are up for adoption. They also do so much more then just rescue. They help out at all kinds of catastrophies, they spay neuter all over Utah, they educate , they do a lot of outreach programs. Quite a place. Sorry that your experrience was not so good.
    Debra, best friends is not a kill shelter . In fact they promote no kill all over the country. I believe that because of them all the Utah shelters are now no kill.
    Where are heading now Sue??? Southwest is hot hot in summer. No way around that. Colorado is beautiful !!! Lots of boondocking too. I spent a whole summer there in my RV.

    • Aww, Just saw your last line that says, zion next. Beautiful place. Try to make it to Bryce too. That is actually my fave of the parks in this area. Bryce could be a bit cooler too as the rim is actually quite high in elevation.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Susan . . . Glad to hear from you, especially giving us info on the Best Friends org … I couldn’t include everything in my post. I hope people don’t interpret my experience as anything against Best Friends. They have to have rules to protect the organization… Think of the waste of money if someone sued them over a dog bite on a tour!

      Yes, I face a big challenge choosing camps in the summer while at the same time covering the miles northward and to the east to SD for vehicle reg./license/etc. I’m learning lots of lessons in boondocking! CO sounds inviting.

    • Debra says:

      @ Susan – thanks so much for clarifying. I did not mean to confuse or combine the two aspects. Best Friends is changing the way we deal with animals here in the U.S. and I would never mean to insinuate that they are remotely associated with kill shelters – quite the contrary. They are wonderful. My apologies.

      I simply meant that I can not watch such videos or visit shelters (such as some city pounds, etc.) that ARE kill shelters. All 3 of my furbabies are rescue animals. The 2 dogs were severely abused (broken bones for one, cigarette burns and slashes on the other) but if you visit my blog, you’ll see they’re just fine now. 🙂 I support all efforts that help diminish euthanasia, abuse and homelessness of animals – all breeds, but seeing It directly or on video breaks my heart into a million pieces and I can’t go there. I am looking forward to going to Best Friends one day though.

      Thanks again for straightening that out.

      • Yes Debra, I know what you mean about visiting city pounds. I cant go there either. I have volunteered for years at nokill shelters. All of my furries are from Truckee Humane society which is no kill. I have 3 cats, one dog. Even the no kill are sometimes sad places. I would like to see them all have homes. But, as far as visiting shelters go, I will tell you that it is hard to be sad at Best friends cause they have such great set-ups for the animals. Indoor/outdoor rooms for all and so many volunteers to give them all a lot of loving. Anyways, thank you for rescuing your furbabies.

        Sue, how often do you have to be in SD for registration? Can it be done by mail or do you have to go there? I cant remember when I rvd if I actually had to go to the state to re-register. I was using Oregon as my homebase at the time.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Vehicle registration and license plates can be done by mail, which I did when I purchased the BLT in Texas. Driver’s licenses require you be a resident and to appear in person. In order to prove your residency, you stay overnight (an RV park will do) and take a receipt for your park fee to the motor vehicle place. My GA license doesn’t expire for another two years. I should have everything from the same state, so that’s why I’m going. Plus I want to see SD sights!

  10. Kim says:

    We’ve always supported BF and I’m so pleased whenever I hear how they continue to, not only do great work, but inform people about the plight of unwanted animals in this country. Bless ’em.

  11. G says:

    We just spent a week at Zion and also went to Bryce for a day.
    You will love it, wish I could have spent more time in Zion, truly a remarkable place.

  12. Sherry says:

    Oh Sue I’m so sorry you didn’t get to do the Best Friends tour although doing it in the heat would be much more difficult. Maybe you will pass that way another time in a different season. But until then, if you like, I did a blog when we were there so you could see some of it. It is a magnificient facility.

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    To bad you couldn’t have borrowed an adult for the tour, or dropped the trailer and followed along. Plus the cemetery is a remarkable place to walk and listen to the soft sound of hundreds of wind chimes.
    Geri let me know you are safe in a new camp near Zion. Enjoy.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I didn’t borrow an adult because I figured the Sanctuary ladies would have suggested that if it were an option. There’s liability involved, what if the alternate adult was bitten, that sort of thing.

  14. Rick says:

    I am looking forward to your Zion camp and experiences there. It is Heaven on Earth and I know you will enjoy it.

  15. The Good Luck Duck says:

    I love no-kill shelters. Unlike PETA, who hates them, BUT DON’T LET ME START! Thanks for the info on the sanctuary.

    The Good Luck Duck

  16. So sorry you didn’t get to go on the tour of Best Friends. I was in tears after the film, but touring the sanctuary is so uplifting. We joked about sending our cats there after we left so they wouldn’t be cooped up in a 30′ motor home! They have a wonderful setup for the animals and we would love to spend time volunteering there but there is not a good option for places to park an RV near Kanab.

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