By any measure, Best Friends Animal Society is a “a Utah success story, self-made and homegrown,” in the words of its CEO Julie Castle. Thirty-six years after establishing its famed pet sanctuary outside Kanab, the nonprofit organization has mushroomed from “almost nothing” into a global brand with millions of members.
As many as 37,000 guests a year visit the sanctuary on a former ranch in Angel Canyon, where the society employs 425 people full time and supports several Kanab businesses.
But that growth has come at a cost in terms of soured relations with many in Kane County who view the society’s animal-welfare mission and promotion of tourism with swelling suspicion.
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