2016 Annual Report Best Friends Animal Society

2016 Fiscal Year: Saving Lives from Coast to Coast

Together, we have created a national network of lifesaving activity that is buzzing in every corner of the country. Innovative pet adoption programs, community-based spay/neuter efforts, pivotal legislative work and a cooperative network of shelters, animal welfare organizations, experts and volunteers. The work you’ve made possible is changing the world for animals and the people who love them. Thank you.

These are just a few of the things that we accomplished together from October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016.

“My hope for the future is probably yours — a country where we are not euthanizing healthy animals. When I got involved in rescue 15 years ago, it was hard to imagine that that could be possible. But having Best Friends out there advocating for the animals makes me believe it can happen.”

– Cheri Shankar, Best Friends supporter, Los Angeles

From the Chair of the Board

Best Friends Animal Society has never rested on its laurels. Perhaps that’s because the success of our mission — to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets — is measured in lives saved, giving us a sense of purpose and urgency.

While the seriousness of our calling cannot overshadow the joy and energy of our work, the dogs and cats who remain at risk are always front and center. These lives are not just numbers; each one of them has a name, a face, a story and the desire to live.

Everyone at Best Friends regards this mission with the utmost sincerity and resolve — from animal caregivers to Sanctuary tour guides, from administrative staff to every member of our board of directors. Every one of us is accountable to the animals, to each other, to the public and to you, our members and supporters. We believe it is only through transparency and accountability that we can stay on mission and on schedule to achieve it.

This past year, Best Friends’ leadership team laid out an ambitious plan to lead the country to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats in our nation’s shelters by 2025. This is a plan and goal for which we gladly assume responsibility, and toward which we are pointing all of our organizational resources.

At the same time, we understand that this commitment will require the work of far more than just one organization. It requires the kind of leadership that drives our work in the state of Utah, as well as in the complex environment of Los Angeles, where we and our NKLA Coalition partners are on track to achieve no-kill in 2017. It requires the kind of collaboration that underscores our No More Homeless Pets Network, and the kind of dedication that has helped to create nearly 300 no-kill communities throughout the country to date.

Every day, nearly 5,500 of those names, faces, stories and lives are lost to killing that can be prevented, and it is our mission to see that this becomes a thing of the past.

Thank you for being a part of this lifesaving work. Together, we will Save Them All.

Kind regards,

Francis Battista, co-founder and board chair, Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends in the National Conversation

  • Best Friends’ social media audience grows to more than 2.2 million.
  • Actor Christopher Walken joins the “I Saved My Best Friend” campaign and appears on the Today show to discuss his role in the movie Nine Lives and his support of Best Friends.
  • The Champions, an award-winning documentary now available on Netflix, shapes the national conversation on breed discrimination with 145 screenings across 41 states.
  • Best Friends is named Animal Welfare Nonprofit Brand of the Year for the third time based on the 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study.*

*Best Friends Animal Society received the highest numerical Equity Score and the highest numerical score relating to Trust among Animal Welfare Nonprofits included in the 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study. Please go to bestfriends.org/about/faqs for further details.

A Message from the CEO

Friends, it’s happening. What was once a simple idea — that every animal’s life has intrinsic value — has transformed into a nationwide movement.

Over the last fiscal year, you’ve helped create remarkable change for animals in every corner of the country. From lifesaving legislative wins for cats and dogs in places like Ohio and Florida, to symbolic statements such as the adoptable dog becoming the official state dog in Georgia, our work together is setting the national tone. One that celebrates our relationship to animals and the collective power and spirit behind our efforts to Save Them All.

Thanks to you, we have made the idea of “together” meaningful. Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets Network, which is made up of nearly 1,700 (and counting) animal welfare and sheltering organizations across all 50 states, is the foundation of this lifesaving work.

Through grants and funding, national adoption promotions, major lifesaving events like Strut Your Mutt, and expert mentoring and resources, Best Friends is equipping those best positioned to save lives with the tools they need to do it. These critical partners are one of the keys to achieving our mission.

We’ve seen individuals and organizations join together on behalf of the animals in unprecedented ways. This was most recently exemplified in the joining together of Best Friends and Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption to create Best Friends–Atlanta, anchored by our first pet adoption center in the southern United States. These purposeful and collaborative endeavors have transformed our work from the inspiring day-to-day lifesaving that takes place at the Sanctuary into a national, lifesaving cultural shift.

The no-kill movement has surpassed its tipping point. And thanks to our work together, it’s full steam ahead. Which is why Best Friends has officially planted a stake in the ground and is now leading a nationwide initiative to make America no-kill for dogs and cats by 2025.

It’s an ambitious goal, and one that your partnership and dedication have put firmly within reach.


Gregory Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society

In Fiscal Year 2016, Best Friends …

  • Helped the state of Utah enter its third year as a no-kill state for dogs and reach an 85 percent overall save rate for dogs and cats
  • Partnered with Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption to create Best Friends–Atlanta
  • Celebrated a 27 percent decrease in shelter deaths (more than double last year’s reduction) in the city of Los Angeles, thanks to the tireless work of NKLA Coalition partners
  • Entered the final phase of construction on the new Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in the heart of New York City

You provided love and care for animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.


New arrivals: 1,311 | Animals adopted: 1,108

35% of the animals adopted had special needs


Sanctuary visitors: Nearly 32,000 | Sanctuary volunteers: 9,748

Sanctuary tours: 3,614


Little Prince

In May, a tiny foal named Prince arrived at the Sanctuary from McKinley County Humane Society, a Best Friends partner located in Gallup, New Mexico. At just 10 days old, Prince was the youngest horse ever to come to the Sanctuary, and quite possibly the cutest. In fact, the first photo we were sent showed little Prince dressed in a baby blue cardigan.

Prince’s mother had the good fortune of being rescued by the humane society, and she gave birth to Prince shortly after arriving in their care. However, Prince was ultimately too weak to feed on his own and mom wasn’t too excited about letting people near her to help.

The humane society quickly set to work finding temporary alternatives for Prince’s neonatal care, and then called Best Friends. Caring for an orphaned foal is a tremendous undertaking and the Sanctuary is one of the few places with the resources to do it. Prince received round-the-clock feedings and support from caregivers. Today, he is strong and healthy and is making friends with other Horse Haven residents.

Team Trinity

Last February, a blue-eyed pit bull terrier named Trinity was taken to Calaveras County Animal Services in Northern California. Trinity appeared to be the victim of a suspected dogfighting operation and had escaped during a fire. She was suffering from multiple injuries, but her sweet nature and zest for life stole the hearts of everyone she met. Despite the severity of her injuries and the cost of the care she would need, the community there came together to raise funds for her treatment.

Thanks to the evidence gathered in Trinity’s case and a subsequent property search, several other dogs in need of medical attention were found and rescued. Best Friends collaborated with the shelter and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, to care for Trinity and five other dogs until they could travel to the Sanctuary. After spending some time in foster homes with university students, Trinity, Liberty, Flower, Sting, Hoyt and Justice arrived at the Sanctuary, where they received specialized care and time to heal.

As of today, all but Justice (who arrived at the Sanctuary last) have found loving new homes. And Trinity is sharing hers with her canine buddy, Chance, also a former resident of Dogtown. Three cheers for Trinity, and her team of adoring fans!

You supported lifesaving events across the country.


Every fall, Best Friends hosts Strut Your Mutt, a dog walk and lifesaving fundraiser, in multiple cities throughout the country. What started as just a local dog walk in Salt Lake City in 1996 has grown into a nationwide fundraising extravaganza. Thousands of people and pets participate each year, with the majority of the funds raised going directly to support the lifesaving work of participating shelters and animal welfare organizations.

2016 Strut Your Mutt

$2.6 million raised, with nearly $1.9 million going directly to the 294 shelter and animal welfare partners that participated

15,500+ human participants | 10,000+ canine participants | 14 cities and a virtual event


Each spring and fall, Best Friends Super Adoptions are held in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and New York City. These large-scale public adoption events bring together hundreds of adoptable animals from Best Friends and local animal welfare organizations in one location for a weekend.

2,652 pets found homes through six Best Friends Super Adoption events

Super matchmaking in New York City

In the spring, a big dog struggling to find a home in New York, a city in which smaller pets sometimes have the edge, landed her perfect family at the Best Friends Super Adoption. Minnie, now named Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, is a testament to the power of large-scale adoption events that bring hundreds of pets and potential adopters together.

“You know, sometimes you go looking for one thing and you wind up with something completely different and unexpected. That’s what happened when we met her. She was perfectly imperfect. And we knew she was ours.”

– Nathan, one of Minnie’s adopters, who originally came to the event looking for a small dog

You found homes for thousands of homeless pets.

During the last fiscal year, nearly 85,000 animals were adopted through Best Friends adoption centers, special events and adoption promotions. For No More Homeless Pets Network partners, Best Friends’ special adoption promotions have a major impact on the number of homes they find for adoptable pets each year.

8,150 pets found homes through Best Friends pet adoption centers

41,458 pets found homes through network partners participating in Best Friends adoption promotions

“Every promotion we participate in through Best Friends results in increased adoptions. Every single one. We are a small shelter, so doubling or even tripling our adoptions over one weekend, like we did on Valentine’s Day, makes a huge difference.”

– Windham County Humane Society in Vermont

  • LifeLine Animal Project | Atlanta, Georgia: 814 cats adopted during the June 2016 cat promotion
  • Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League | Palm Beach, Florida: 605 pets adopted during the December 2015 Bring Joy to Your World promotion
  • Hawaii Island Humane Society | Kailua Kona, Hawaii: 332 pets adopted during the Fall in Love promotion

Hawaii Island Humane Society participated in all six Best Friends adoption promotions during the 2016 fiscal year, finding homes for a total of 1,529 animals.

A weekend to remember

2015 Zappos holiday adoption promotion | Black Friday through Cyber Monday

6,254 dogs and cats found new homes in just four days

“We were able to adopt out almost all of our cats, to the point where we had more empty cages than full ones. What we accomplished in a mere four days is what we normally adopt out in a full month.”

– PAWS Shelter of Central Texas

You helped enact lifesaving legislation.

Over the last fiscal year, Best Friends’ advocacy team helped achieve 128 wins on behalf of cats, dogs and other pets across 28 states and 115 cities or counties, as well as one win at the federal level. During that time, 78,172 emails were sent to lawmakers by subscribers to the Best Friends Legislative Action Center.

States with legislative wins for homeless pets, supported by Best Friends

  • Golden State gives dogs a second chance. In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill sponsored by Best Friends that gives dogs seized in dogfighting cases a chance at adoption.
  • Sunshine State shines bright for cats and dogs. Sarasota County, Florida, enacted a major ordinance, aided by Best Friends, that bans the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores unless they come from shelters or rescue groups.
  • New Jersey doesn’t mess around. Along with a team of passionate local advocates, Best Friends helped enact a whopping number of retail pet sales ordinances — 51 total — in the state of New Jersey.

You kept animals out of shelters through spay/neuter and community cat programs.

During the last fiscal year, more than 97,000 animals were spayed or neutered through Best Friends spay/neuter clinics and programs, including grants and other funding provided to Best Friends’ network partners.

  • 21,900 Animals spayed or neutered through Best Friends spay/neuter clinics
  • 39,953 Community cats spayed or neutered through Best Friends programs

Best Friends community cats partnerships

  • Baltimore, Md.*
  • Columbus, Ga.*
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Los Angeles, Calif. (FixNation)
  • Philadelphia, Pa.*
  • Pima County, Ariz.*
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • State of Utah

*Community Cats Projects run in partnership with PetSmart Charities

Lifesaving spotlight: A sustainable Baltimore

This past August, a three-year Community Cats Project, made possible through a collaboration between Best Friends and PetSmart Charities®, wrapped up its final year of programming and entered a new phase: sustainability. Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), which operates Maryland’s largest open-admission shelter and pet adoption center, is now saving at least 90 percent of the cats who enter the shelter.

PetSmart Charities has worked with Best Friends for many years to create new ways of helping community cats through lifesaving programs. We are proud to call PetSmart Charities a partner and friend.

Rachael’s Rescue, The Rachael Ray Foundation’s charitable initiative to help animals in need, generously helped fund the Safe at Home kitten care program and grants to our network partners in fiscal year 2016. We are so grateful for this lifesaving partnership.

You saved the lives of kittens.

Kittens are one of the most vulnerable types of animals entering shelters each year. So, the best way to ensure their survival is to keep these fragile, fuzzy babies from ending up in shelters in the first place.

Kittens saved in Los Angeles city shelters:

2016: 64.6% | 2015: 48.1%

Kittens fostered through Best Friends–Los Angeles:

2016: 1,443 | 2015: 1,091

“It was thrilling seeing community members who had never had resources like these in our offices daily. They would bring their kids with them and we’d teach them about kitten feeding, cat care and spay/neuter.”

– Christi Metropole, founder and executive director, Stray Cat Alliance

Lifesaving spotlight: Safe at Home kitten program

In March 2016, a new kitten community foster care program called Safe at Home was implemented at the South Los Angeles shelter in partnership with Stray Cat Alliance. This innovative partnership is designed to prevent newborn kittens from entering shelters by counseling community members who find kittens and providing them with the resources to foster the kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. It truly is a lifesaving partnership.

333 kittens saved Safe at Home, March to September 2016

You saved the lives of cats.

Preventing cats from entering shelters is critical to achieving no-kill nationwide. In addition to the lifesaving work that’s taking place in our regional centers, Best Friends provides funding and other resources to network partners around the country to promote cat adoptions and support field efforts to save kittens and cats in communities.

Save rates for cats in Best Friends’ regional program areas

LOS ANGELES - 2016: 71.9% | 2015: 60.6%

UTAH - 2016: 75.8% | 2015: 72.4%

NEW YORK CITY - 2016: 86.3% | 2015: 82.2%

  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay | Tampa, Florida: $25,000 grant from Best Friends to subsidize senior cat adoptions
  • Alley Cat Advocates | Louisville, Kentucky: $50,000 grant from Best Friends to fund spay/neuter surgeries for 1,000-plus community cats
“We hoped to increase older cat adoptions by 10 percent, and we’re already up 37 percent. And after the promotion, we took in 122 more cats from our county shelter.”

– Lisa Knight, grants and purchasing coordinator

“We’re continuing to see a drop in the number of cats entering the shelter, and we get to celebrate with caretakers as they trap, transport and return cats to their community homes.”

– Karen Little, executive director

You saved dogs and supported sustainability.

Saving 90 percent or more of the animals who enter shelters is the benchmark for no-kill. And thanks to you, New York City reached that benchmark for dogs this past year, and Los Angeles nearly did the same. Meanwhile, the state of Utah continues to sustain its no-kill status for dogs.

Save rates for dogs in Best Friends’ regional program areas

LOS ANGELES - 2016: 88.9% | 2015: 86.8%

UTAH - 2016: 93.6% | 2015: 93%

NEW YORK CITY - 2016: 90.5% | 2015: 88.6%

“We’re all incredibly excited by the progress we’ve made. Now we have to sustain it. Best Friends prioritizes engaging the public and helping shelters and rescue groups maximize what they can do. This focus on collective impact is very intentional and is what will ultimately help us Save Them All.”

– Judah Battista, Best Friends co-founder and chief regional programs officer

You helped big dogs find big love.

Large-breed dogs often make up a majority of the dogs in shelters. Each year, Best Friends provides network partners with grants to help promote the adoption of large dogs and provide community-based spay/neuter and training services.

Lifesaving spotlight: San Antonio Animal Care Services

With generous grants from the San Antonio Area Foundation and Rachael’s Rescue, Best Friends partnered with San Antonio Animal Care Services (SAACS) last year to launch the Big Dog Project, with the goal of creating replicable programs designed to reduce deaths in shelters and achieve and sustain no-kill efforts. Thanks to the grants and help from Best Friends’ “big dog task force,” the program has been a huge success.

Major project achievements:

  • SAACS hired a new dog trainer who helped 726 big dogs
  • 826 dogs were adopted into loving new homes
  • 61 unowned dogs living in the community were spayed or neutered
  • SAACS ended the month of September adopting out 88 percent of the animals in its care
“To be honest, we almost brought Rocket back to the shelter. But Katelyn showed us a few training and management tricks, and things improved immediately. Rocket is a part of our family now. I’m so thankful this was free. We wouldn’t have been able to afford training otherwise.”

– An adopter who participated in Big Dog Project training classes

You’re giving the animals their “moon shot.”

This past July, at the Best Friends National Conference in Salt Lake City, Best Friends symbolically planted a stake in the ground. With a nod to President Kennedy and his 1961 “moon shot” speech, we announced that together, with our dedicated network of partners and supporters, we will end the killing in our nation’s shelters and Save Them All by 2025.

“I planted my own stake as soon as I got back from the conference. I met with the director of one of the animal control facilities I’ve been working with and simply asked how I could help. Every last person at the conference contributed to the metaphorical wildfire that is within me, driving me to make a difference.”

– Amy Loggins, 2016 Best Friends National Conference attendee

Lifesaving at the Jersey shore

Best Friends National Conference

July 13–15, 2017 · Atlantic City, New Jersey


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 lifesaving work. The animals are forever grateful.

A Special Thank-You to Our Corporate and Foundation Partners

Nature’s Variety

Zappos.com, Inc.

Kaelen and Simon Haworth

Skechers USA, Inc.

PetSmart Charities®

The Blue Buffalo Company

Rachael’s Rescue

The Petco Foundation


ColourPop Cosmetics

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Maddie’s Fund

Pethealth, Inc.

California Community Foundation

Engelstad Family Foundation

San Antonio Area Foundation

Too Faced Cosmetics

Utah Office of Tourism

Select Equity Group Foundation, Inc.

Cross Charitable Foundation Inc.

Thrivent Financial For Lutherans Foundation

Chavez For Charity

Edith J. Goode Residuary Trust


sWheat Scoop

Bear Bottom Candles

George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation


Paul and Karen Arndt

S.L. Gimbel Foundation

Wendy P. McCaw Foundation

More Than A Cone

The Eugene & Marlaina Johnston Charitable Foundation, Inc.


The Mountain Corporation

Michael A. O’Bannon Foundation

Scoob Trust Foundation

RuffWear, Inc.

Disney VoluntEARS

Dr. Judith A. Mills

Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies

BISSELL Pet Foundation

Diane Warren Foundation

Giant Steps Foundation

H. J. Heinz Company

Hallmark Channel

Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®

Target Corporation

The George F. & Helen M. Hirschmann Foundation

The Mrs. Cheever Porter Foundation

The Weiler Foundation Inc.

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