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Success Story

Best Friends Animal Society: Among 2021 Top Workplaces and CEO Julie Castle Wins Leadership Award

Nov 12, 2021

Best Friends Animal Society has been named one of Utah’s Top Workplaces 2021 by the Salt Lake Tribune, and iIts CEO, Julie Castle, received the Tribune’s sole 2021 Leadership Award in their large business category. 

Based on anonymous employee surveys, these awards highlight the uniqueness of Best Friends Animal Society and how Castle is paving the way for other CEOs to create a thriving work environment by putting culture first. 

“The most successful companies are leading with their hearts,” said Castle. “Those are the companies that are going to win because they recognize that their most important assets are their employees.”

Best Friends, a national animal welfare organization focused on ending the killing of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by 2025, credits their mission-driven work, emphasis on data and innovation, and a culture rooted in kindness and the Golden Rule as keys to creating an energized workforce.  

Headquartered in Kanab, Utah, where Best Friends runs the country’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary, the organization also offers unique benefits to its animal-loving staff such as paid time off for adopting or fostering pets and the ability to bring dogs, cats—and occasionally even a pig—to meetings.  

Best Friends had been focused on working toward making Utah a no-kill state for more than 20 years. Though there is more lifesaving to be done, great progress has been made in Utah. Utah ranks #13 in the nation for saving for the most dogs and cats. About 70% of Utah shelters are no-kill.  

The NKUT coalition is a group of nearly 60 municipal shelters and animal welfare organizations that joined together in 2014 to work with passionate individuals to end the killing of dogs and cats in Utah shelters.   

“Fostering a culture of innovation and listening to my team has always been my top priorities, and I could not be prouder of our progress in our goal to achieve no-kill by 2025,” noted Castle. “As an organization, we do everything we can to prioritize our staff and provide a safe, inclusive, and equitable workplace; to provide a fair wage, great benefits, and time off to recharge. We are proud to be an organization based on kindness; being one of the best places to work is as important to who we are as saving animal lives.”


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