Last week (2 Aug 2013), I took two of my granddaughters on a visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located in southern Utah. The tour was a real eye opener. I left scratching my head.
The sanctuary is located on a large plot of land in and above a beautiful red rock canyon. Its facilities are like a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons Hotel, except the living quarters are for displaced and injured pets. The animals at Best Friends live a life of luxury. They have dog and cat condominiums, excellent medical facilities, and the place is overrun with volunteers ready at a moments notice to pamper the pets. One of the more bizarre sights at Best Friends is the massive pet cemetery complete with wind chimes and meditation spots. It all seems extremely excessive.
When I look at the human and primate need around the world (I live part-time in Africa), I have trouble relating to all this pampering. While their cause may be just–the better treatment of throw-away pets–Best Friends has gone overboard.
The organizers of Best Friends have a rather convoluted history. According to wikipedia:
What became known as the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary originated in Arizona in 1971, developing from a charitable retreat set up by The Foundation Faith of the Millennium, a religious group formerly known as the Process Church of the Final Judgment.
And aparently the Process Church (unrelated to the Process Theology of Alfred North Whitehead) is an offshoot from Scientology. The history of Best Friends makes them look a little like a cult, and our tour guide–Bill–acted like I imagine a cult member might act. He was clearly overly caught up in the mission of the sanctuary. But in the end, does all this background information really matter?
One of the things that Best Friends takes pride in is their rescue and “rehabilitation” of Michael Vick pit bulls. However, some question Best Friends’ motives. For example, each of the dogs came with a $18,275 dowry which was paid from Vick’s sentencing deal. While many of the pit bulls were “rehabilitated” and subsequently put out for adoption, this process has been questioned. DogsBite.com, for instance, “does not believe that pit bulls seized from dogfighting raids can be rehabilitated for adoption.” I personally wouldn’t want a Vick pit bull anywhere near any of my grandchildren.
The tour of Best Friends is eye-opening. And everyone should make their own judgment. But this operation does NOT work for me. But let’s treat our animals and pets better.