Best Friends Blog

Goodbye, Pat

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of our friend Pat Whitacre yesterday.

Pat was a dog trainer, and so much more, at Best Friends from 2004 until 2012. He was part of the fabric of Dogtown and of the entire organization. He was one of the very visible faces of Best Friends as one of the trainers featured on the “DogTown” television program. There weren’t many people who visited the Sanctuary who didn’t meet Pat, or his sidekick and companion for many of those years, Rollee, when they dropped by Dogtown Headquarters. Pat had a kind word for everyone. He was one of those special individuals for whom compassion is a deeply rooted part of who they are.

Pat changed the lives of thousands of dogs for the better. Pat was thoughtful. Pat was kind. Pat was generous. Pat was uniquely gifted and just his presence seemed to be what some dogs needed. And Pat was always there for those dogs who needed him.

He didn’t only touch the lives of the dogs. He spent many of his lunch hours with shy cats, just lending his calm presence and helping them to trust. His patience had a bit of a legendary quality to it.

Pat was one of those special people who never judged. He had what seemed to be endless time not just for the animals but for people as well. If an adopter had a question, if another organization needed help, if a coworker had a problem with a dog at home, big or small, Pat would listen and lend a hand.

I imagine that there was quite a contingent of dogs and cats from Pat’s personal life, his life at Best Friends, and his work at Pets Alive who had gone before him, waiting to greet him on the other side.

Pat will be missed and remembered.

Help us remember Pat and share your stories or memories in the comments.


Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Randi Robinson

    I met Pat a couple of time at the sanctuary and talked with him about one of my favorite dogs, his buddy Waylon. Waylon died last year and I am sure he is with Pat now.

  • Gloria Karol

    Dear Mari,
    I also have known Pat from the “Dogtown: espisodes and I am in total agreement with your sentiments. We all will miss Pat!!!!!!!!

  • honeybear

    I echo all the comments that have been posted before mine. I think the best way we can honor Pat is to share with as many people as possible the techniques that he taught us and to strive to have as much patience as he had. That way he will linger in all our lives. I hope you’ll meet me when I cross the Bridge, Pat!

  • Barbara

    met Pat once. My friend and I had brought a dog up to Best Friends. In
    the time it took to fill out her intake information we missed getting
    the tour of Best Friends. He was standing by us and heard us saying how
    disappointed we were. He stepped up and introduced himself and offered
    to take us on a tour as he had some time before he had to be somewhere
    else. Pat spent over 45 minutes driving us around the dog and cat area
    telling us about some of the animals and how the animals were taken care
    of. The puppy building was not quite open yet but he showed us and told
    us about it and the physical therapy building for the animals. He
    showed us how wonderful Best Friends is to the animals, volunteers, and
    those working there. Thank you Pat for taking some time for me and my
    friend. Barbara

  • Colleen

    In all of my visits over the past 6-7 years, I would run into Pat at least once. The last time, he was the Dogtown person on call for sleepover issues. Well my sleepover dog China decided that she didn’t like my sister and her kids. Actually Pat agreed with me that he thought China was “guarding” me against them, since we were in the cottage for a couple of hours before they arrived. China was/is always my sleepover, so guess she got a little too protective. Pat was so awesome. He came in and observed the situation. Asked a few questions and then we jointly decided that China would have to go back to her run. I always learned something big or small everytime I was around him. May he rest in peace with all of the 4 legged furkids that met him at the Rainbow Bridge. I’ll miss ya and all your knowledge Pat!

  • Bernice Lavoie Wray

    So sorry to read about Pats passing on over the Rainbow Bridge May he rest in peace Condolences to family and friends Such a great kind man He will be missed by all
    Bernice Wray

  • jojo

    I am sadden my this story! I loved seeing him on tv. He was very good with animals!

  • Donna Lipari

    I had the privilege of meeting Pat while volunteering at the NYC Strutt your Mutt. He was truly a gentle and kind soul. His distinct style will be missed by all who were touched by him.

  • Wendy Gavis-Lainjo

    I came back a few days ago from vacation to learn that Pat Whitacre had passed away. I was stunned. I first learned of Pat’s amazing work via my Best Friends membership, then the Dogtown TV series, and finally from spending time at Pets Alive. I live near Pets Alive. I have a friend who works there. One day a few years ago I helped Pat and my friend take down the last of some fencing outside. It was after hours. We were all laughing. It was the first time I got to interact with him. After finishing, I talked with Pat a while about his background, where he grew up, how he came to do what he does…I was thrilled just to meet him because I admired him so. And, as everybody says, he exuded a calm, steady presence, a kind of inner peace. It was exactly what a frightened, abused animal would need, I thought to myself. I cannot believe that Pat is not on this earth anymore. I was just talking about him–just a few days ago! I was asking my Pets Alive friend how he was. I was looking forward to meeting him again and to learning about dogs from him…it was just on my mind lately. And now I can’t ever hope to see him again. This video tribute is beautiful and heartfelt. I remember him. I remember his hats. I can still see him in his loose pants, cotton jacket and sun hat walking slowly in the back down the driveway with the dogs at Pets Alive.

  • Mary Neary Morley

    I was so impressed with Pat after volunteering at Best Friends in 2008 – he was the kindest, most gentle person I ever met. I’m sure all his animla friends welcoemd him home. Rest in peace, Pat!

  • Marlena

    I used to watch Dogtown religiously, I feel like I lost a good friend!

  • Marlena

    I used to watch Dogtown religiously, I feel like I lost a good friend!

  • Pat C

    What a lovely tribute to Pat Whiteacre who seems to have been a remarkable man. Thanks for sharing his story.

  • Revati Sangoski

    Wow, so much love from so many 2 and 4 legged friends for Pat. I remember dear Pat from Dogtown, we saw a series all the way from Australia. And I agree all those furry friends are there to greet him on the other side.

  • Rebecca Barrett Roby

    I too knew Pat through the Dogtown series and also the Best Friends Magazine. One could only hope that a portion of what is said about this man could be said of him or her. I know there are many who welcome him with open arms on the other side of the Bridge…

  • Rebecca Barrett Roby

    I too knew Pat through the Dogtown series and also the Best Friends Magazine. One could only hope that a portion of what is said about this man could be said of him or her. I know there are many who welcome him with open arms on the other side of the Bridge…

  • Rebecca Barrett Roby

    I too knew Pat through the Dogtown series and also the Best Friends Magazine. One could only hope that a portion of what is said about this man could be said of him or her. I know there are many who welcome him with open arms on the other side of the Bridge…

  • Sally Bixler

    I was shocked and saddened to hear of Pat Whitacre’s passing. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but felt like I knew him from watching him on “Dogtown” episodes. He had a special touch when it came to helping dogs become more adoptable. I don’t think he had any other goals in life other than what he was doing – helping the dogs. What an amazing man. I only hope he knew how much he was liked and respected. I know Rollie will have a tough time and that there is someone standing by to be a “Pat” for him while he grieves. I have no doubt there was a large crowd awaiting Pat on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge when he got there. He was loved by all he came in contact with, either in person or by watching him on TV. RIP Pat, you will be sorely missed.

  • KayZwayZ

    So sad to hear of this lovely and dedicated man’s passing. As simply a supporter of Best Friends, and a lover of DogTown, I know he will be missed by his animal and human friends. He is Over the Rainbow Bridge.

  • Anonymous

    How did he die, why don’t they mention it?

  • Wendy Brown

    Pat….we never met but I feel like I have lost a friend. You were one of the amazing spirits of Dogtown. To see your smiling face with one of the dear pups always made me feel good. I can only imagine the incredible welcome you received as you crossed the Rainbow Bridge. May we always remeber you by being loving, caring compassionate friends to the animals. Bless you, Pat!

  • Lynne Newberry

    My husband, Gary, and I volunteered at Best Friends a few years ago when we were in Vegas. It was only one day but we learned so much about Best Friends which we have supported for many years. We met Pat and did our afternoon in the Puppy Socialization group. It was not only fun, but we were informed that since the innovation of the Puppy Socialization, no puppies were being returned, like in the past. Pat was super nice (as was everyone else there). I left with the knowledge that if NONE of the animals at Best Friends ever got adopted, it was okay, because they had a wonderful life at Best Friends. Lynne Newberry

  • Mare-Mare

    I only knew him on Dogtown but I know if I’d met him in person, he would have seemed like an old friend. He showed compassion and kindness and love for those who needed it most. I always enjoyed the Dogtown episodes that featured Pat. I’m sure he’s with lots of four-legged friends now.

  • Wendy, NJ

    Although I never met Pat, it was easy to see what a gentle soul he was. There must be so many fortunate animals and people that were touched by his loving energy. He was a gift that is gone much too soon.

  • Joanne

    I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Pat’s death. He was a lovely person who had such a soothing and calming effect on not just dogs, but people as well. I had the pleasure of tagging along with him at pet’s alive. He was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to learn from him. I will be forever grateful for the experience. A truly remarkable man who touched so many lives.

  • Stacey

    A man with a gentle heart and a big smile ….

  • Jean Turnage.

    I remember Pat from “Dogtown” and he seemed like such a wonderful, caring person. I would have liked to have known him. I know he will be deeply missed by those who did know him. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Jean T.

  • Nancy Heller

    Thank you so much for the wonderful video of Pat! It’s hard to believe he’s no longer in our world. I learned valuable stuff from Pat while I was volunteering at the Sanctuary, not the least of which was to remember to laugh and have a good time with the animals! Thank you, Pat. May you Rest in Peace

  • Ranger

    Cross the Rainbow Bridge and join all your best friends who are waiting for you with wagging tails. Play in peace.

  • Paul Hamilton

    His legacy is the changed lives of all the dogs he’s helped and the people who love them. He will be greatly missed.

  • ripples 22

    omg…..tears are flowing. I’m so sad to know he’s gone. I can’t imagine that what he’s doing now is more important.. :( (

  • Andrea Elkins

    I met Pat when I attended a week long dog assessment course at BFAS in 2008 (?). He was a very caring, knowledgeable soul.

  • Frances Gaeta

    Sad news. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but enjoyed him every time he appeared in “Dogtown”. I’m sure he’s having a great time up there with all our departed furry friends…Thank you, Pat, for spreading your good karma…

  • Elaine K

    My condolences to his family and friends. I watched him on the TV program and read of him in the mailings for members. He was special. It is sad to hear of his passing. The world needs more people like Pat.

  • Wendy Bw

    this is the the happiest family picture ever! What a tribute to Pat!

  • Raymond O’Keefe

    Good people like Pat always leave us too soon. They leave a huge hole in our lives to fill. Mr. Whitacre., you will be missed by all of us that ever heard of you. Cross the Rainbow Bridge and enjoy eternity with all the animals..RIP

  • bigcat

    RIP Pat be happy over the rainbow bridge with all your buddies!


    So sorry to hear about Pat’s passing. The world is a lesser place because of his loss.

  • Bev Emerson

    I was deeply saddened to read about the passing of Pat Whitacre. I didn’t know him personally; but, like many others, I felt as though I did. I never missed an episode of Dogtown; and, the last two times I volunteered at Best Friends, his presence was highly visible…..walking dogs, training dogs, talking with visitors and staff in the parking lot, etc.
    He truly had a gift. His calm, patient manner made him successful with everyone, whether two-legged or four-legged. He definitely will be missed.

  • Diane

    Sounds like a wonderful guy.

  • Nate Schure

    Our dogs faces can speak for our saddness at the loss of a friend to

  • Shelly Stauring, Arkport, NY

    As a fan of Dog Town on Nat Geo I am truly saddened to hear of Pat’s death. My husband & I had the opportunity to visit Best Friends in 2011 but, unfortunately, didn’t have the privilege of meeting Pat. From watching the show you could tell he was an exceptional dog trainer and I’m sure he will be sorely missed by all the people & pets whose paths he crossed either directly or indirectly. RIP Pat and I bet there was a stampede at the Rainbow Bridge when you arrived!!

  • Jeannie from Rhode Island

    I am so sad to hear of Pat’s death as with many viewers I followed his training of dogs on “Dog Town” He appeared to live a modest life in his surroundings, but, an enourmous life in his gift with Dog Towns animals. He passed by in this life with a huge heart and that will continue in the next.

  • Bernadette Schenold

    I am so sad to hear about Pat. I did not know him other that watching DogTown. Reading Johnny’s letter brought back memories of Pat and Johnny. God bless you, Pat, and I hope someday we will finally meet.

  • Suzanne Gavett

    I was saddened to learn that Pat Whitacre had died. I will never forget how kind and helpful he was to me when I adopted one of the Beruit, Lebannon dogs back in 2007. Our Gracie had many issues and Pat always took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us and give us guidance and encouragement. I’m sure he is surrounded now by many animals who have gone before him and are now reunited with their beloved friend.
    Suzanne Gavett (Atlanta, GA)

  • Lizzy & Cooper

    Pat was a wonderful kind soul. I’m sure he’ll be missed. Heaven has another animal lover.

  • Rebecca

    I was a huge fan of the show “Dogtown” and remember how kind and gentle Pat was with the dogs. I only wish I could have met him personally to enjoy his sincere demeanor with the were a very wonderful and patient man that I did and always will admire. I am certain you got a huge welcoming from all your friends at Rainbow Bridge…God bless you!

  • Denise

    Pat was so special. He was one of the reasons I had the courage to leave my nursing career to endeavor upon working with animals. Now, we operate the second largest No Kill shelter in NC and I know if it weren’t for Pat and others at Best Friends, it would have never happened. Pat, you will be deeply missed.

  • ann juliano

    I did not have the pleasure of meeting him personally, but when I went to Pets Alive in Middletown, NY to adopt my dog, I saw this kind, gentle man taking care of Robert. Robert was a dog who loss the use of his hind legs.Robert has since found a forever home and I attribute it to Pat and his patience and kindness.

  • Katherine Pitts

    I was shocked when I first read about Pat’s death. I first saw him on Dogtown and was amazed at his innate ability to relate to animals. He seemed like such a great person. Hopefully, he is running around with all the animals that have passed that he helped and is in great company. There are so few like Pat! Condolences to everyone who knew Pat.