Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
55Trip End Oct 30, 2006
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Kim and I met in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina... Chris and I were walking through the Animal Rescue New Orleans compound at Magazine Street in the garden district and talking about the demographic makeup of the volunteers we were working with... I said, "I don't think there's too many Republicans down here," when this girl in a baseball cap looks up and says, "I'm a Republican." We had to stop and investigate. When Chris left, Kim and I spent the day together, feeding and watering the section I was assigned to and then ended up rooming together at this animal-rescue friendly hotel on Poydras Street... I was so grateful, having been roughing it for the previous week. Kim is, as she likes to say, "just a geologist" who has a unique nose for rescuing animals... Anyway, for reasons neither of us can explain, we became instant friends and although we have spent a total of 4 days together, we both feel like we've known each other forever...
Neither of us had any prior animal rescue experience before Katrina, but we both *had* to do something... Neither of had ever heard of Best Friends until we went to New Orleans after Katrina. So, both of us were coming to Kanab with high expectations and few pre-conceived ideas. All we knew was that it was a forever home for hard-to-place animals who'd endured suffering of some kind for most or some of their life.
We started out Day 1 with an orientation of the sanctuary, and when I tell you it's big, it's HUGE... it literally sits in a rather large canyon, spread out over 3,000 acres that is bordered by 30K acres of BLM land as a buffer...
We spent the afternoon cleaning one of the cat rooms in the facility that houses Feline Leukemia and FIV (Feline HIV) infected cats... it was great. So many cats, and you sit down and they come running to get in your lap and snuggle and they even take turns... This snuggle time was after we finally convinced Joanie to let us clean the litterboxes. Seems like most volunteers to Best Friends are donors who want to spend the day seeing how their money is put to use. Well, you know what they say: those who have money, donate; those who don't, sweat.
When I first went to the Best Friends website last year, I stumbled onto the volunteer opportunity page by accident. I started thinking that it was a great way to check it out and give back without having to spend money. Of course, I soon found out there is no "volunteer housing" but they do offer lunch for $4 every day but Sunday...
After spending a few hours with the FL/FIV kids, Kim wanted to check on a cat named Monkey whom Cadi had rescued in NOLA... Cadi asked Kim to take pictures and love on Monkey for her... Sure no problem. We ask and are told that Monkey is in temporary quarantine at the Kitty Motel and to go ask for her next door. Off we trot to the Kitty Motel, which is the temp place for incoming cats, and the permanent home to more serious medical needs kitties. We had to hurry through the door, because Scooter, the official greeter for the Kitty Motel was on us like we were tuna:
Born without back legs, I can't believe he escaped being put down! But wow - what a great personality and boy can he get around!! And then there was the cat with cerebral palsy - twitchy, yes, and certainly more challenged by her environment than most cats, but really upbeat and gregarious... I was in awe - especially since I'd never seen a cat with this neurological disorder before. Made me wonder how many get put down just because of it, like kids who were institutionalized back in the 50s...
Oops, forgot about Monkey. Not sure what Monkey is in temporary quarantine for, but she was hands down the crankiest feral in the room. Keep on keepin' tabs on her, Cadi, because that one needs a guardian angel and some one-on-one person time...
Day 2 at the sanctuary was a bit more grueling. We were assigned to the horse area and started out scooping manure out of the sand paddocks. I hadn't done that in years! We then went on feeding rounds which took the rest of the day... Most of the horses, burros, donkeys, sheep, and goats that make up the equine sector are old, which means there is a lot of beet pulp to water down and feed... Virginia, a burro rescued from the Grand Canyon when she was left there to die, likes to hang out at the bottom of the hill near the stream that runs through her paddock. The woman we rode around with went to go get her and she grudgingly hobbled up the hill... I hope someone makes me come to dinner when I'm that old!!
Lots of sad cases, lots of health problems but lots of happy animals, too. The sanctuary is gorgeous and I gotta say, I'd want to spend the rest of my life there!
Things we LOVE
Forever homes for all companion animals
Things we HATE
Cruelty to animals