By Tina Quinn
Having watched “Dogtown” on the National Geographic channel a few years back, it was on my bucket list to visit this magical animal nirvana in the desert. My heart was forever imprinted with the images of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs arriving at Dogtown, the area reserved for the canines. So, after embarking on an extended RV trip through North and Central America with my cat, I took a little detour to Kanab and Angel Canyon.
Angel Canyon is spectacular, with varying shades of rusty red and clay white rock. Also known as Little Hollywood, this region has been the backdrop for hundreds of movies. I half expected to run into the outlaw Josie Wales as I hiked through the canyon. That would have been a bonus!
Situated in the canyon is the vast habitation of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. The Welcome Centre is the meet-up point for many of the tours available, free of charge, to anyone interested. The Grand Tour takes you on a drive through every area, including old Dogtown, Cat World, the Parrot Garden, Wild Friends, Horse Haven, the Bunny House, and Piggy Paradise. You may also choose to visit any one of these spaces separately.
Volunteers are welcomed as much-needed resources that keep this extraordinary place functioning. I chose to share my time with the cats and dogs, although I toured most of the sections of BFAS. I highly recommend visiting the Parrot Garden. I didn’t know how little I knew about birds until after that tour. My favorite tour was old Dogtown, as I caught a glimpse of Meryl, one of the Vick dogs that was ordered to stay at the sanctuary for the remainder of her life. (If you care to know what happened to the other dogs, it would be worth your while to watch the documentary “The Champions.” If you ever doubted that a fighting dog, particularly a pit bull, could be rehabilitated, watch and learn.)
Although I had my RV to stay in, I chose to rent one of the cabins available onsite. They are very reasonably priced (at $50 a night) and self-contained. There are also cottages for rent and a couple of RV sites during the summer months. If you have a fur baby, there are runs attached to each cabin for their use. You also have the option of taking a sanctuary animal for a sleepover, which is great for these wonderful creatures who deserve all the love a person can give.
Angel’s Village, a buffet-style cafeteria, is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each day and offers an all-you-can-eat vegetarian lunch with vegan options for $5. Now that is a bargain.
There are other attractions in the vicinity, such as some ruins of the Anasazi Indians. If you enjoy hiking, there are several hikes to choose from. The wildlife in this area is abundant. Wild turkeys, roadrunners, eagles, hawks, mule deer, and coyotes can be spotted everywhere. If you are an animal lover, then this is a must-see for you.
“Dogtown” is a documentary about the rescue of fighting dogs from the property of NFL player Michael Vick, where he trained and fought pit bulls. Michael Vick served time for his part in Bad Newz Kennels and was ordered to pay for the keep of these atrociously abused animals. Most of the dogs were rehabilitated and adopted, finally receiving the love and care they deserved.
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