Anyone who has been to Kanab in southern Utah can tell you this is a special place. But there is a special place within this special place I want to tell you about.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
This is the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. They have other locations throughout the USA in New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Houston, and Atlanta, but Kanab is their headquarters. Not only is it huge, over 3,700 acres and they have over 1500 animals to care for each day, but, they can change your life as well. Volunteering at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a bucket list item for many of our guests.
Everyday folks from all over the country (and the world) volunteer at Best Friends. And you can too. There are two shifts every day of the year, shift times are 8:15-11:30 a.m. and 1:15-4:00 p.m. You need to sign up early though as each animal area has a maximum number of volunteers it can accommodate during each shift.
The website for Best Friends https://bestfriends.org is super streamlined and very easy to navigate. You can set up your own volunteer schedule there. That gives you the flexibility to volunteer at the sanctuary and still have time to visit our beautiful National Parks.
During the high Spring Break, summer season and holidays it gets super busy. So signing up as early as possible is important. Some slots book out months in advance. But if you are just passing through for a couple of days, don’t despair even if the shifts are all full, you can contact the Volunteer Center and ask about other opportunities such as helping out in their gift shop or Angels Rest and other special service projects like landscaping and maintenance.
What Will I Find There?
Two shifts every day in seven different animal areas; Cat World, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, Dogtown, Piggy Paradise, Horse Haven, and Wild Friends. Opportunities in each of these categories are limited so it is highly recommended that you sign up and schedule your shifts as far in advance as possible!
A nice bonus is the two places to eat at the sanctuary. The Canyon Grill it is open during the summer months but their $5 vegetarian buffet it is served year-round daily from 11:30 AM to 1 PM.
When you arrive at the sanctuary you will have a 10-minute check-in at their Welcome Center. You will be provided with a name badge, your schedule and anything else you need to know to make your volunteer time the best that it can be!
What To Wear
They do ask that all volunteers wear closed toed shoes, even slip-on clog type shoes must have a heel strap. You could be climbing a ladder or walking animals and they are concerned about everyone’s safety. They also strongly recommend long pants when working with the horses or pigs (but please, not the same ones you have worn around horses and sheep at home).
Shall I Bring My Own Pet?
Many of our favorite guests at My Star Vacation Rentals are Best Friend volunteers! Of course, these animal lovers all have their own pets at home.
As our home is pet-friendly many want to bring their own pet with them to Kanab.
Just a couple of things to be aware of though, your own pets are not allowed in any of the animal areas at the sanctuary. Pets are also not allowed in the National Parks. Both are a couple of good reasons to consider leaving your own pet at home.
But probably the best reason to leave your own pet relaxing at home is that some of the dogs, cats, and bunnies at the sanctuary are approved to go home with the volunteers for an overnight visit! If you have volunteered at least one shift in that specific animal area you can bring a pet home for the night. How fun is that? We have hosted many sleepover pets at The Western Star and hear nothing but amazing responses from our guests about that great experience.
Can I Bring My Kids?
While you may not want to bring your own pet to Best Friends you will definitely want to bring your kids that are six years old and over! They must be accompanied by an adult but one adult can supervise up to three minors. For safety considerations, each animal area has its own minimum age requirements:
Cat World = 6+
Bunny House = 6+
Parrot Garden = 8+
Dogtown = 10+
Piggy Paradise = 12+
Horse Haven = 12+
Wild Friends = 18+
Please keep in mind that these age restrictions apply to sleepovers as well. So for instance, You cannot come and volunteer with the doggies and the take home a sleepover if your kids are less than 10 yrs old, but they could get a cat or a bunny.
I have a couple of friends come with their daughters and love sharing that experience. One comes every year as a special mom and daughter project. One came with her daughter and even adopted a bird to take home!
This is Christian, we call her “The Bird Whisperer”. She puts doll clothes on her chickens and she LOVES her bird they brought home from Best Friends.
I talked with several employees in prepping for this post and they did stress that this is a working sanctuary, not a Petting Zoo for tiny kids!
Want To Sign Up A Group?
You bet, Best Friends has unique programs for 5 to 12 people looking for an integrative service learning experience. Come for 2 to 5 days and leave with unparalleled memories for your group.
Take A Tour
So what if you don’t have time this trip to be a volunteer – just be sure and take the free Sanctuary Tour! To schedule a tour, please call the Welcome Center staff at 435-644-2001, ext. 4537. Or click HERE
Tours are offered every day at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. They are two hours long, and you will be amazed at what you get to see and the scope of the sanctuary. You will get to go inside a couple of buildings and drive through many other areas of the property. But again, the tours fill up, so please sign up early!
Again, Their extensive website is https://bestfriends.org
You can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call at 435-644-2001
They are open every day at 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Mountain Time.