Kanab, Utah — Thanks to a tradition almost four decades old, around three dozen sanctuary dogs woke up to a sleigh of toys this Christmas.
Filling a flatbed trailer to the brim, donors from around the country sent squeaky and fuzzy gifts to Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab.
According to the chief sanctuary officer for Best Friends Animal Society, Judah Battista, this cherished Christmas tradition was first started by animal caregivers 38 years ago.
“Saving animals is work that comes from the heart,” Battista said. “Our goal is always to help the animals at our sanctuary find homes of their own. But while they are here, we are always going to go above and beyond for the animals and provide them with the very best care.”
The organization posted a clip on TikTok of one dog’s toy-selection process from last year that went viral with over 14 million views.
According to officials, the sanctuary’s dog population varies greatly — some have extensive medical and behavior needs while some are adoptable puppies on their journey to finding they’re forever home.
“This tradition at Best Friends is so much fun,” Battista added. “Seeing the dogs jump around and getting excited over their gifts is like seeing little kids on Christmas morning. And what we all get in return is a feeling of joy, which is really what this time of year is all about.”
According to caregivers, not all dogs react the same way to seeing a pile of toys. They said that while some are overwhelmed or excited, others are hesitant and spend time investigating their options.