“When my mother’s dog, Sheena, passed away I reached out to Best Friends Animal Society to adopt a dog that was hard to place,” Denise Richards tells FOX411.com exclusively. “I ended up adopting a blind dog, Preston, from their shelter.”
Richards, whose love of animals was documented in her 2009 reality show, “It’s Complicated,” has thrown herself into helping Best Friends however she can.
“Denise is phenomenally faithful,” Silva Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, tells FOX411.com. “She frequently comes down to the shelters to help us with whatever we need. She also sponsors animals, she comes out for our events and she really understands the issues. She’s been amazing.”
Best Friends Animal Society was founded in 1984 by a group of friends who wanted to make a difference in animals’ lives.
“Our formal mission is ‘No More Homeless Pets,’” rep Barbara Williamson, tells FOX411.com. “Since we’ve started, the number of dogs and cats killed in shelters has been reduced from seventeen million to about five million per year. By adopting, you’re saving a life and you’re helping to reduce the number of animals that are being killed in the shelters.”
Best Friends’ 3,800-acre animal sanctuary, located in Angel Canyon, near the Golden Circle of National Parks in Utah, has plenty of room for all creatures, great and small.
“We have about 1700 animals on any given day,” says Williamson. “Some people may remember us from our show on the National Geographic Channel, which featured our work with Dogtown—we also have Cat World, Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise Parrot Garden and Wild Friends,” a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitation program to help injured animals return to the wild.
In addition to their animal sanctuary, Best Friends offers a unique program, Pup My Ride, which provides transportation for animals rescued from puppy mills and shelters to new homes across the United States.
“Whenever I’m in town, I volunteer for Pup My Ride,” says Richards. “They save 30 to 40 dogs that would be otherwise be euthanized and instead, places them into good homes.”
“We do Pup My Ride weekly now out of Los Angeles,” says Battista. “Small dogs are generally not available in places like Manhattan—except through puppy mills. Pup My Ride gets dogs out of shelters and puppy mills and transports them, either by car, bus or plane, to other parts of the country where they can be adopted.”
Best Friends also sponsors adoption events.
“On May 21-22, we have a very large, pet super adoption that we’re putting on at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles,” Battista said. “There will be many different rescue groups there, including city and county shelters. It’ll be a festival in the park to encourage people to adopt.”
And if you can’t make the event in L.A., Richards encourages you to visit a local shelter to find a new four-legged friend, “Please get your animals spayed and neutered—and adopt an animal instead of buying it from a pet store.”