Thursday, January 15, 2009

CEO and Best Friends animal sanctuary part ways

Kanab » Organization says his departure doesn't mark a change in strategy.

After 2½ years at the helm of the country's largest no-kill animal sanctuary, the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society was let go Tuesday in what the organization calls a "mutual agreement."

According to spokesman John Polis, the society is discussing possible future involvement for Paul Berry, who was with the organization during the rescue efforts of animals in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and who was instrumental in obtaining 22 pit bulls that once were owned by former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Vick is serving a prison sentence for training the dogs for illegal dog fights. Best Friends is trying to rehabilitate the dogs.

As CEO, Berry had also been concentrating on working with larger cities around the country to implement a "no more homeless pets" philosophy.

Gregory Castle, vice president of the organization's board, said Tuesday that Berry's exit does not signal a change in strategy for Best Friends.

"This doesn't represent a change in our overall thinking," said Castle, an original founder of the group that set up its animal sanctuary just north of Kanab in Kane County in 1984.

Castle said the change is part of a four-year restructuring plan for the organization and that a national search for a new CEO will be launched that could take up to nine months.

For an organization that depends on private contributions -- raising up to $38 million a year -- capturing funds is essential.

"We want someone with animal welfare experience and has a passion for our cause and profit management," Castle said.

He also said an expanded 14-member transitional board will be seated on Jan. 24, replacing the current six-member board.

"We felt we wanted a more diverse selection for governance of the organization," said Castle. "It helps to reach into more pockets."

Asked if Berry's leaving had anything to do with the sanctuary's ability to raise funds, he answered an emphatic "no" and said he believes figures for 2008 are similar to those of 2007.

Even so, 30 Best Friends employees across the board were let go last fall in what Castle describes as a belt-tightening move and in anticipation of a souring economy. He said the organization has no plans for further layoffs of its current 420 employees

Calls placed to Berry on Tuesday were not returned.


petdefense said...

The pitbull appeal in Denver on 1/12/09 has been done, and we heard it may have gone ok. In meantime, one of the largest most damaging groups is the HSUS which purposely kills dogs and then has owners arrested, where most are not convicted of anything. But all the dogs are dead of course. Despite the HSUS marketing about saving pets, it is passing anti-pet laws. As a pitbull owner, you should realize that HSUS is an animal extremist group, not animal welfare. Its idea of protection is protecting humans from owning pets. The millions they have are spent in lobbying political agendas, restraining owners, pets;making up insane rules for how to feed, when to feed, and what to feed. that all dogs need a/c, heating, and to always be inside. All dogs have individual needs, but not according to HSUS, which is the political PETA. They will outlaw your dogs next. We invite you to read the truth at and don't think we hate rescued/re-homed dogs. That is purposely done for reasons that will be signifcant (in our favor) down the line. PS Best Friends' founders were Proces Church members that worshipped satan. That's not disputed if you research it. They have tried to cover it up but it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

What on earth are you talking about? What does HSUS have to do with BF? I really don't understand the comment from "petdefense."

Kay Lieber said...

To petdefense - what are you talking about? BF is not HSUS. I'm confused by your comment on-line. I also visited your website and it's not very professional looking and hard to navigate and I am a seasoned tekkie.

Anonymous said...

Well, their "nine" months have passed, 30 good people who cared for the animals were fired, the CEO search now appears to have found Castle as a CEO, after outside applicants were rejected and many people upset when his wife applied for the position. Their "inside" board has been replaced with an "inside" board.

From a recent visitor with ten years of past visits, it seems very quiet in Dogtown. Quiet and empty. They're expanding with new buildings for puppies and young, adoptable dogs that generate revenue. More locals have been banned from BFAS as they ask too many questions. But, publicity campaigns and revenue are up, and that's what counts for them.

alex said...

Animal Lovers,

I ask all the animal lovers around the area to join our animal rescue forums. Our message board are/is dedicated to discussing everything pet related, but our major emphasis is pet rescue.

Anyway, thanks for the blog post, it was a good read :)