Frequently asked questions about volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Please note:
To keep our staff, guests and the animals safe, we’re reopening to the nearby public on June 25, 2020. This means that residents of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico or Wyoming who drive to the Sanctuary are welcome to book lodging, reserve a tour or sign up for a volunteer shift. We look forward to inviting guests from all locations soon and thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the Sanctuary. There are many ways to lend a hand and heart to make a difference in the lives of animals, and the help you provide is vitally important. Together we can Save Them All.

How far in advance should I sign up for volunteer shifts?

Volunteer shifts should be scheduled as far in advance as possible. Each animal area has a maximum number of volunteers that can be accommodated during each shift. To get started, please visit volunteers.bestfriends.org or contact the Sanctuary volunteer department at volunteers@bestfriends.org or 435-644-2001, ext. 4119.

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Who can volunteer?

UPDATED June 23, 2020 to reflect current COVID-19 protocols as the Sanctuary slowly reopens to visiting volunteers.

Minors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times while volunteering. We are re-evaluating the number of minors who can be supervised by one adult.

For safety considerations, each animal area has its own minimum age requirements. During the Sanctuary's yellow reopening phase, the minimum age to volunteer in each area is:

Cat World = 10+
Bunny House = 18+
Parrot Garden = 18+
Dogtown = 16+
Piggy Paradise = 16+
Horse Haven = 16+
Wild Friends = 18+
Sanctuary Store = 18+
Angel’s Rest = 18+
Landscaping = 18+

If you or a member of your party has mobility or health-related concerns that could limit or restrict participation in certain types of activities, please contact the Sanctuary volunteer department at volunteers@bestfriends.org or 435-644-2001, ext. 4119, so appropriate activities can be arranged.

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What volunteer opportunities are available?

We invite you to participate in regular animal care routines, such as feeding, cleaning, grooming, walking, etc. Spending time socializing with the animals, which helps make them more adoptable and eases their transition to a forever home, is also an important part of volunteer work. To volunteer on special projects in areas such as maintenance, please contact the volunteer department in advance to discuss options.

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What are the daily volunteer shifts?

There are two volunteer shifts every day of the year — from 8:15 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:15 to 4 p.m. The Sanctuary is on Mountain time.

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How do I schedule volunteer time?

You have the ease and flexibility of creating your entire volunteer schedule online. To get started go to volunteers.bestfriends.org.

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What happens when I arrive at the sanctuary?

Your 10-minute check-in, which takes place at the volunteer center located in the lower canyon, will be scheduled in advance. A representative from the volunteer department will meet with you to provide a name badge, schedule and other important information to make your volunteer experience the best it can be. Volunteer check-ins are held three times every day, promptly at 8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. Failure to attend your check-in may cause you to lose your scheduled shift. (Pertinent lodging or tour information will be provided by the respective departments.)

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Can I take an animal on an outing or sleepover?

Some of our dogs, cats and rabbits are approved to go with volunteers on sleepovers, and some of our dogs are approved to go on outings, which are real treats for them. To take an animal on a sleepover or outing, you’ll first need to volunteer at least one shift in that specific animal area during your current trip or have volunteered a shift within the past year. Reservations are not required for outings or sleepovers. Arrangements for sleepovers or outings can be made while you’re volunteering.

Please note that if you are traveling with your own pet(s), you won’t be able to take a Sanctuary animal on a sleepover. Members of sleepover groups must be at least six years old to take a cat or rabbit and at least 10 years old to take a dog.

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What should I wear?

Closed-toe shoes are required for volunteering in all animal areas. Sneakers or hiking shoes are the preferred footwear in most animal areas, while boots are suggested for horses and pigs. Clog-type shoes are not permitted. Long pants are strongly recommended for volunteering in any animal care area, and especially when volunteering with the horses or pigs. Volunteers are advised to dress in layers during the spring, fall and winter months because the mornings can be chilly and the afternoons warm. Wearing a hat and sunscreen is also recommended because the sun’s rays at altitude are strong all year long. If you work with equines, goats or sheep at home or in your community, please bring clothes and shoes with you that have not been worn around those animals.

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What about transportation?

Transportation is not provided for volunteers, so you will need your own vehicle to get around the Sanctuary, which is spread across more than 3,700 acres. You’ll be driving to and from the welcome center, animal areas and other locations. Because many animal areas are several miles apart, walking is not a viable option and bicycles are not allowed on most Sanctuary roads. Volunteers traveling with RVs longer than 21 feet will have difficulty maneuvering on some of our Sanctuary roads and some parking areas. So if your RV is longer than 21 feet,, we strongly suggest that you plan to have a car to get around.

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Is there a place to eat at the Sanctuary?

Our $5 vegan buffet is served daily at Angel Village café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The café accepts cash, checks, and debit or credit cards. Meal tickets can be purchased from the Sanctuary Store with your credit or debit card.

The Canyon Grill, located outside of the Best Friends Welcome Center, is open during the summer months, Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Can my own pets accompany me in the animal areas?

For everyone’s safety, personal pets are not allowed in any of the animal areas, nor are they allowed to remain unattended in vehicles.

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Can groups volunteer at the Sanctuary?

Yes. For information on group volunteering click here.

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How can I schedule a Sanctuary tour?

There are a variety of complimentary tours available to our visitors and volunteers. The most comprehensive tour is the Grand Sanctuary Tour, offered daily at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. To learn more about the tour or to schedule one, click here or please call the welcome center staff at 435-644-2001, ext. 4537.

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Where is Best Friends located and where can I stay?

We are located five miles north of Kanab, Utah. Detailed information on traveling to the Sanctuary is available on our website. A reminder: Utah is on Mountain time so if you’re flying into Las Vegas and driving to Kanab, remember that Las Vegas is on Pacific time, so the Sanctuary is one hour ahead. If you’d like information about lodging at the Sanctuary (cottages, cabins, RV sites), Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile or accommodations in Kanab, click here.

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How do I encourage others to get involved with Best Friends once I'm back home?

Check out the volunteer toolkit ​and network partner list for additional ideas on how you can make a difference for the animals in your community.

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Have more questions?

Please email us at volunteers@bestfriends.org or call us at 435-644-2001, ext. 4119. We are open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mountain time.

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