Best Friends Blog

A national treasure

Full disclosure — I am married to one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society, Gregory Castle, so my view on this topic may be a bit skewed. However, it is indisputable that the founders of Best Friends are iconic figures in the world of animal welfare. My 14 years of marriage and my 18 years of association with them as a group has not diminished my respect for them as individuals or for what they have achieved as visionaries — founding the no-kill movement over 25 years ago, and, additionally, truly elevating the status of animals in our society through sincere kindness and compassion with the simple message that kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us. That positivity always triumphs over negativity. We are here to build new avenues of good, shining a light of truth through kindness and overpower any negative force that confronts us. And that’s not to say that we haven’t butted heads over all manner of issues (we absolutely have), but that’s just another measure of the founders’ grounding in reality and one more thing to admire about them.

When we were planning the founders’ session for the 2012 Best Friends No More Homeless Pets National Conference, we weren’t trying to capture a memorial tribute or a documentary recording. Our intent was to give conference attendees some insight into how the founders navigated the challenges of cooperation, failures along the way, growth, and mission integrity that every grassroots organization faces as it grows. It’s sobering to note that four of the founding group of Best Friends have already passed away and their personal accounts of the evolution of the organization are lost to us. That’s a shame because as you will see, they are all such unique and different characters and personalities.

The founders’ session turned out to have more impact and to be more inspiring than any of us who helped put the conference together could have imagined.

Following the session, one attendee, who is connected at the highest levels of the entertainment industry and is also someone of national influence in animal welfare, commented to me, “Forget about their importance to Best Friends, what you have here is a national treasure!”

So with that, I am pleased and proud to share with you the video of the founders’ session from the recent Best Friends No More Homeless Pets National Conference.



Julie Castle
Senior Director, Communications
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Anonymous

    Remarkable story. Glad you succeeded. Thanks for being there for the animals.

  • Randy Samberg

    I’m watching the video now, and it brings back such wonderful memories of a few month ago, volunteering at Best Friends and going to the No More Homeless Pets Conference. You are all such amazing people, and I hope to attend the conference again next year. It was such a motivating and energizing experience.

  • Rochelle

    Although my family has been a supporter of Best Friends for many years, I just got done reading the book about Best Friends the other day. Such amazing and wonderful hearts they all have!!! I did tear up though when I read that the first vet, Dr. Christy passed away. So sad. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done to help animals. Can’t wait to visit in 2014!!!

    • Rochelle

      I am watching the video now and I am sad to hear that Paul passed away as well. :( It is nice to have just read the book and be able to hear everyone tell the story here. Love seeing what everyone looks like now too! :)