“This year, we set out to save more lives than ever before. Thanks to our grant from Best Friends, we have been able to find homes for cats and kittens more quickly, save more neonatal kittens, and reach beyond our own walls to take in cats from partner shelters in surrounding communities.” Southern Pines Animal Shelter, Mississippi, Best Friends Network partner since 2014

From the Chair of the Board

“So much has changed over the years in terms of the size, scope and impact of Best Friends, and yet so much has remained the same.”

In Fiscal Year 2018, Best Friends ...

Developed the first national master shelter list in animal welfare, creating a more accurate picture of lifesaving needs at shelters in every single state

Celebrated the appointment of our new CEO, Julie Castle, who was also featured in InStyle magazine’s “Badass 50” list, which highlights dynamic women around the country

Launched state-level no-kill 2025 steering committees and coalitions made up of local leaders in Idaho, California, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Washington and Tennessee

Lit up Times Square with a call to Save Them All by 2025 for National Nonprofit Day

Awarded pivotal Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants to Jacksonville Humane Society in Florida and Orange County Animal Care in California, two organizations strategically positioned to save the most lives and provide leadership in key states

Found homes for 570 pets through Best Friends’ first super adoption event in Houston, Texas

Honored actress and animal advocate Amanda Seyfried with Best Friends’ inaugural Save Them All Spotlight Award for her work to raise awareness and grow support for saving homeless pets

Composed and published Humane Animal Control, a manual that describes our country’s most successful lifesaving programs and serves as a guide for animal control professionals committed to achieving no-kill

Watched actor Jeff Goldblum, with adoptable puppy Buttercup, talk about the film Isle of Dogs by Fox Searchlight Pictures and their partnership with Best Friends on the Today show

Created the Best Friends Training Academy to train animal welfare organizations working to achieve no-kill in their communities

A Message from the CEO

“It’s been one heck of a year. Thank you for diving into the lifesaving pool with us. Rather than asking how cold or deep the water was, you just ran to the edge and jumped on in.”

Creative Adoption Events, Promotions and Partnerships

During the last fiscal year, 33,968 animals were adopted through Best Friends lifesaving centers, special events and adoption promotions.

11,395 pets found homes through Best Friends lifesaving centers

Micky was adopted at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in New York City after being rescued during Best Friends’ Hurricane Harvey relief effort in late 2017. He's now living the high life at a pet-friendly boutique hotel in SoHo where one of his family members works.

2,530 pets adopted through seven Best Friends super adoptions

Huck, an eight-year-old pit bull terrier mix, was one of 497 pets who found loving new homes over the course of one weekend during the summer NKLA Super Adoption, presented by BOBS from Skechers®.

Summer to Save Them All promotion

250+ participating network partners and all Best Friends locations

  • All pet adoptions were free June 25 – July 4.
  • The promotion was supported by Best Friends’ Pay it Forward campaign, through which people paid it forward by donating to cover someone else’s adoption fee.

“As of this moment, we only have four dogs on our adoption floor! This has never happened in the 16 years I have been here.” Director of Pitt County Animal Shelter in Greenville, North Carolina

Lifesaving Events Across the Country

2018 Best Friends National Conference in Los Angeles #ThankstoMaddie

  • 20th anniversary of the conference
  • 1,657 attendees from 46 states and 4 countries
  • 115 expert speakers
  • 88 breakout sessions, including a track devoted to progressive field practices for animal control officers

2018 Strut Your Mutt, Presented by BOBS from Skechers

More than $2.5 million was raised, with nearly $2 million going directly to the 357 shelter and animal welfare partners that participated.

  • 14,400 human participants
  • 6,800 canine participants
  • 14 cities and a virtual event

Expert Kitten Care

Best Friends operates four regional kitten nurseries and provides support to network partners around the country to help cats and kittens in their communities.

4,642 kittens and nursing mothers cared for through Best Friends kitten nurseries

6,040 kittens fostered through Best Friends foster homes

New digs for Kanab kittens

Oboe was one of the first kittens helped through the new state-of-the-art kitten nursery that opened in the Best Friends Visitor Center in downtown Kanab, Utah, last August. It has enough space to care for 40–50 kittens at a time from Best Friends’ local community cat program.

NKLA says saving kittens is the way

In May 2018, NKLA Coalition members Spay Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNPLA) and Angel City Pit Bulls teamed up with Best Friends to open the Jefferson Park Pet Resource Center in South Los Angeles. The new center includes a SNPLA clinic and a kitten nursery, with the goal of saving more than 1,500 kittens in its first year.

Strategic Spay/Neuter Programs

Best Friends operates four regional spay/neuter clinics offering discounted services to communities in need and supports a variety of spay/neuter programming around the country.

27,940 pets spayed or neutered through Best Friends clinics

Snip trips for Kaibab pets

After learning that members of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe on the border of Utah and Arizona wanted to have their pets spayed or neutered but didn’t have the resources to do so, Best Friends launched Snip Trip. The program provides services through the Best Friends Animal Clinic and provides transport for pets to and from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

“We started in April and within six months, more than 70 animals from the most underserved communities around Kanab were spayed or neutered and vaccinated.” Carrie Smith, manager of strategic volunteer initiatives

Powerful Programs for Community Cats

According to the most recent national shelter data collected by Best Friends, cats make up 75.6 percent of pets killed in shelters. During the last fiscal year, more than half of the animals spayed or neutered through Best Friends programs were community cats.

In 2018, Best Friends had 10 large-scale community cat programs and community cat mentorship programs in operation across 16 states.

48,987 community cats spayed or neutered through Best Friends programs

“We crushed our goal! We will be no-kill long before 2025 and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without this program.” City of Idaho Falls Animal Shelter staff member

Grants to Save Them All

The Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants, made possible through the generous support of the Rachael Ray Foundation™, funded new lifesaving programs for 72 Best Friends Network partners across 34 states this past year.

California kittens

Orange County Animal Care (Tustin, California)

Received a $100,000 Rachael Ray Save Them All Grant to expand lifesaving programs for newborn kittens

“With this grant and our new shelter director, Mike Kaviani, I believe we will be able to take the good work we do to a whole other level.” Andrew Do, Orange County supervisor

For 2019, $1 million in Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants will be awarded to Best Friends Network partners to help a total of 20,000 animals across the country. To learn more about the Rachael Ray Foundation’s charitable work for animals, please go to rachaelrayfoundation.org.

Humane Legislation for Companion Animals

Best Friends collaborated with fellow animal welfare organizations and advocates throughout the country to enact a wide range of lifesaving legislation on behalf of companion animals.

84 legislative wins on behalf of cats, dogs and other pets across 32 states and 51 cities or counties, including one win at the federal level

183,436 emails sent to lawmakers by subscribers to the Best Friends Legislative Action Center

Big wins for dogs and puppies

Legally beloved: The International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) unveiled its new Model Dangerous Dog Ordinance, a resource that attorneys across the country can use to draft local dog laws in their communities. Best Friends worked with IMLA staff for years to help draft and refine the new model ordinance, helping to ensure that it was breed-neutral and behavior-based, with provisions regulating reckless owners.

10,000 emails: Best Friends helped defeat a dangerous proposal by the USDA to allow third-party inspections of puppy mills. In just 48 hours, a Best Friends advocacy alert on the issue generated more than 10,000 emails to the USDA, stopping the proposal in its tracks.

Love and Care for the Animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

  • New animal arrivals: 1,353
  • Animals adopted: 1,080
  • Percentage of adopted animals with special needs: 31%
  • Sanctuary visitors: More than 34,000
  • Sanctuary volunteers: 11,307
  • Sanctuary tours: 3,616

Sid gets his strut back

Getting old is tough enough without throwing a life-threatening case of malnutrition into the mix. But that’s exactly what a lovely senior Arabian horse named Sid was facing when a Best Friends Network partner rescued him and brought him to the Sanctuary.

Addressing malnutrition in horses is a delicate business that requires knowledgeable, expert care. After months of small, frequent meals and close monitoring, Sid has gained weight and strength. Now nearly 30 years old, he has become quite the silver social butterfly, playing and prancing with his Horse Haven friends.

Ever was a puppy

Never ever has there been a more lovable pup than Ever. Super sweet and full of spunk, Ever arrived at the Sanctuary with a condition called carpal hyperextension. Her condition causes her front legs to bow, making it a challenge for her to get around, and will require orthopedic surgery once she’s full-grown.

Despite her future medical needs, Ever cast her puppy love spell on a couple volunteering in Dogtown and is now living the good life in New York, alongside her new dog siblings, Roscoe and River.


A special thank-you to Instinct® by Nature’s Variety, Best Friends’ official pet food and treats provider. Nature’s Variety provides food and treats for animals at the Sanctuary and our regional lifesaving centers.

Saving Lives, Side by Side

Best Friends team members spent the 2018 fiscal year working alongside partners and community members at shelters in Texas where the need for lifesaving support is the greatest. It was a year defined by building trust, promoting transparency and championing collaboration.

“I believe everything we do and everyone we meet are put in our path for a purpose. The amazing team at Palm Valley has shown me that we will, without a doubt, reach nationwide no-kill by 2025.” Mike Bricker, senior manager of shelter lifesaving

“I’m so inspired by the change we’ve seen at Harris County Animal Shelter. We’ve built a partnership that is making a difference.” Whitney Bliton, program engagement manager in Houston

“The people at Palm Valley Animal Center exemplify the compassion, commitment and flexibility required to create and sustain a no-kill community.” Jay Garrett Jr., manager of lifesaving programs

“We weren’t the first organization to step up to help Harris County, but we’re the one organization that has created lasting change by working alongside their team members.” Amy Kohlbecker, lifesaving shelter operations manager


Thank you to all of the compassionate individuals, companies and foundations who gave to the animals this past year. Thank you for caring. Thank you for believing. Thank you for being a part of this amazing work. The animals are forever grateful. We are forever grateful.

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