When we were at Best Friends recently, I picked up a copy of Best Friends: The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary, by Samantha Glen, in their gift shop, and read it as we continued our trip. I found it very absorbing. It’s chock full of heartwarming stories for animal lovers, but it’s also a fascinating tale of how something hugely beneficial in our world grew out of the determined dedication of a few people. It’s a quick and easy read, very well written and very moving! it was published in 2001, so doesn’t cover the most recent developments.
The Story in a Nutshell
The book begins with the compelling story of a woman going into an alley in Los Angeles at night, where she regularly feeds a colony of feral cats. This time, though, she realizes she’d better try to capture two tiny black cats, brothers who walk with their tails intertwined. One of the kittens is blind and he gets around with the help of the other.
Of course, I won’t spoil the story by telling you what happens next, but the book then jumps to 1982, when a small group of friends who had stayed in touch off and on for years decided to buy an incredibly beautiful and huge piece of land in southern Utah, outside the small town of Kanab. They already had a small property in Arizona that some of them had bought to nurture rescued dogs, cats, and other animals on, but they were fast outgrowing it. Still, the property they bought was an immense leap forward, and nobody had the price in a back pocket. The huge mortgage would be a difficulty for years.
Bit by bit, these city dwellers learned construction techniques and made basic dwellings for cats, dog, and eventually a wide variety of animals. (I was nearly in tears at the story of the young couple who had to give up their beloved pot-bellied pig, the first one to arrive at BF.) More of the founders came to live on the land, frequently living in second-hand trailers.
Eventually they reached a crisis point where they just couldn’t afford to care for the hundreds of animals they had taken in, not all by themselves. So they began to involve the public, doing a lot of sitting in front of tables at stores in a variety of cities, asking for donations and developing a mailing list. (Also helping many people with advice when they were asked.) And things grew from there. One powerful chapter details how they came to adopt the mind-boggling goal of “No More Homeless Pets.”
The Power of Manifestation
There’s a famous quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead that I kept thinking of as I read the book:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
I would add caring, passionate, loving or similar words before the word “citizens” in this case. When they started out, who could have imagined that Best Friends would grow into what it is today?
Click on the book cover to find out more about the book at Amazon.com: