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Influence Positively Interview | Faith Maloney

Photo of Kashi and Faith is by Molly Wald -- Best Friends Animal Society

Faith Maloney is one of the founders of Best Friends. Best Friends Animal Society® is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets®. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. Faith is a consultant in all aspects of animal care at the sanctuary, including the Best Friends clinic and adoption programs.

In the early days of Best Friends, Faith spent much of the day in the direct care and feeding of the animals. These days, she devotes an increasing amount of time to helping people from all over the world who are starting sanctuaries themselves. On any given day, there is usually at least one group visiting Best Friends with plans to start a sanctuary or other local animal-care program. For those who can?t come and spend time at the sanctuary, Faith has produced manuals like How to Start an Animal Sanctuary, and she offers help and guidance on the telephone.

Prior to working with Best Friends, Faith was involved with animal care in a small private sanctuary in Pennsylvania, and with counseling and social work in New York and Chicago. She has three children and two grandchildren. Her son is a veterinarian in Ohio, her oldest daughter is a schoolteacher in South Carolina and her youngest daughter is involved in the work of Best Friends.

Faith was born in England and has a degree in fine art. She also writes articles on animal issues and animal care for Best Friends magazine and other publications.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is a time when all animal life is not abused or exploited. For me this applies to animals raised for food and other products as well as for companion animals.

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? I’d come back as a dog. I love cats and they are very beautiful creatures but I speak dog. I seem to have an intuitive recognition of who a dog is. I can read the eyes and intent of a dog way better than any other animal. I would love to be a working dog and not come back as just a pet. I recently heard a review about the role of dogs in war time and was moved to hear how much dogs have done for us in times of crisis. I think that would be a satisfying life, however long or short it was.

What is your pet’s most treasured possession? My Akita mix Chapman loves his bed. It’s not really a regular dog bed as he is close to 100 lbs and doesn’t fit in most of them. His bed is an old comforter than has seen better days. It was a bed cover for an older couple who moved to assisted living. They gave me the comforter. It was already a bit torn and faded from much washing but it was puffy and nice. Needless to say it is not a goose down comforter as I would not have one of those in the house.

Your proudest achievement so far? My proudest achievement would have to be being a co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society. Getting together with a group of like-minded animal lovers back in the late 1970’s was an important milestone in my life. I don’t think any of us realized what it would lead to. We just knew there was a huge problem. Back then there were virtually no programs like we have today. Once an animal entered the shelter system, unless he or she was returned to their family, the chances of him/her getting out alive was slim. Sickness was a huge problem as facilities were not designed to isolate newcomers; volunteers were almost non-existent to help with cleaning tasks so the understaffed and overburdened shelters were not nice places to visit. Today is different. Most shelters have been re-designed to be bright, airy, clean spaces so people want to go there to choose a new family member. Incoming animals are isolated and receive medical attention before being made available for adoption. Adoption counselors help make the match between the animals and their new families. Low-cost spay and neuter clinics abound. Off site adoptions are an option. There is still a lot of work to do but there has been great progress in the last 35 years. We are closer than ever to a time of no more homeless pets.

Who are your heroes in real life? Pioneers. People who step outside of how things are usually done, take a look at the problem and do it differently. The first people to do off-site adoptions took a leap of faith. In taking adoption out of the confines of what were dark and dreary shelter facilities, these pioneers took a lot of flak. Ironically opposition came from others in animal rescue. They were accused of commercializing the lives of dog and cats and catering to the whims of the public. How wrong those accusers were. Millions of lives are being saved by this one innovation. The folks who saw the need to move animals around the country to find homes were also blasted by those who were stuck in the status quo. Those pioneers were chastised for looking for opportunities to save lives and accused of just moving the problem around. But the reality is that some areas of the country have a shortage of puppies or small dogs for their adoption programs. Some areas have too many small dogs and want larger ones. The result of these transport programs is more lives saved. The numbers tell the story.

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