I recently read a book about Best Friends’ Animal Sanctuary titled “Best Friends” by Samantha Glen.
I found it true to the endorsements on the backcover and the introduction by Mary Tyler Moore- inspiring, heartfelt and it made me laugh and cry.
There were several themes that resonated with me:
1-One person can make a difference.
2-A group of committed people can change the world.
3-People can be frustrating.
4-The Golden Rule applies to people and animals.
One person can make a difference.
One person can make a difference. You can’t save everyone or save the world but you can help one person or one animal and start to make a significant impact. Every life matters. You have to start small and focus on “one at a time”. Blake MyCoskie, Founder of Toms in his book “Start Something that Matters” says “I firmly believe that every person alive can make this world a better place. I also believe that we are all equipped to help one another. Just as we all have five senses, we are all born with the ability to improve another person’s life.” (pp.184-185)
A group of committed people can change the world.
When people come together with a common purpose they can positively impact the world. It also won’t happen over night. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a wonderful example. They began as a small group of animal lovers with various gifts and skills in the late 70’s on a ranch in Prescott Arizona. They had a common purpose uniting them to keep focus when they faced adversity which was often. In 1982 a committed group bought the 3,000 acres in Angel Canyon (Kanab, Utah). It took them another (10-19 years) to build the facilities, create the organization infrastructure and build what we now know as the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
It was a long hard road frought with financial woes, staffing needs, community distrust, and physical labor but they never lost sight of the focus, to save one animal at a time. The big picture can be overwhelming, the thought of how many animals die needlessly is staggering, financial frustrations can cause instability at the core of all organizations. Through it all, they focused on the positive, worked together towards solutions and never doubted their cause.
I recall in the book a special bulletin board called the “Wall of Triumph” (p. 129) that Michael Mountain had made for Faith Maloney and the other members. It was filled with positive animal stories and articles from around the world to encourage and serve as a reminder that they were making a difference. It was a wonderful symbol of positive change and gave them hope for the future especially during times of trials.
When they started rescuing animals there were “17 million homeless cats and dogs were being destroyed in pounds and shelters every year”. (p. 280) With their “no more homeless pets” campaign and other animal organization efforts there are now roughly 4 million animals put down a year. It still feels like a staggering number but it is a significant improvement.
People can be frustrating.
Another thing that resonated with me from the book was how frustrating people can be. People are capable of amazing love and generosity. They are also capable of unthinkable violence and cruelty. There is a large spectrum of how people treat animals in our world. While not everyone is given the gift of compassion and comfort with animals I believe it is our role on earth, one of our responsibilities to care for them. Care at a minimum is protecting them from harm and helping them to live healthy lives providing basic necessities like food and shelter. The book illustrates in many of the animal stories humans abuse, neglect, and abandonment of their pets. In all of those stories the animals went on to thrive at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary often becoming favorites of the staff. It’s important to remember as frustrated as we can get with people, we are helping the animals and we are making a difference for them.
The Golden Rule applies to people and animals.
The Golden Rule simply states we should treat others as we wish to be treated. In Mary Tyler Moore’s introduction of Best Friends she acknowledged the belief of Best Friends is “that kindness is the answer: to the animals; to one another, and to the planet we all share.” I believe we should be kind to one another, like Blake MyCoskie said that we should help one another. I also believe we are created to care for the earth and all the creatures on it. In the Best Friends book Michael Mountain says “There is no better application of the Golden Rule that to help a homeless pet. In doing so, you are giving the gift of life itself. And since there is no greater gift, there can be no greater reward.” p. 281
I was inspired reading the book and by all that Best Friends does to help animals. Their new tagline on their website says ”Save Them All”. I hope we do someday and that I am around to witness it.