START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

A Dog’s Best Friend

  • 1 of 2
A Dog’s Best Friend


By Laine Bergeson, Experience Life

Despite graduating high school early and having his pick of several enticing college scholarships, John Garcia went to work at a nearby animal sanctuary right out of school because he had a debt to pay — though not the financial kind.

“I grew up in a very small town, and my best friend as a kid was my dog,” says the 28-year-old dog trainer and star of the National Geographic Channel’s series DogTown, a show that chronicles the lives of the dogs in DogTown, the designated dog area at the Kanab, Utah–based Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

A self-described chubby Latino kid growing up in a conservative Anglo town, Garcia wound up as a loner much of the time. He says only the animals in his life refused to judge him and never tired of his company. “Pretty much my entire life I knew I wanted to work with animals. I always felt I had a debt to repay to them for what they’d done for me growing up.”

He got that chance when he landed a job at the 3,700-acre Best Friends sanctuary. Tucked into the majestic red-rock country of southern Utah, the center came to national prominence in 2007 when it took in the 22 most-abused dogs the government rescued from former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick’s illegal dog-fighting ring.

Unlike many humane societies and other rescue organizations, Best Friends was committed to working with the dogs — all American Pit Bull Terriers or pit bull mixes — rather than euthanizing them. While the government mandated that two dogs remain at the sanctuary for life for their own safety and happiness, the other 20 dogs (once they pass the rigorous stipulations set out by the government) will eventually find new homes — an outcome many people once considered impossible.

Garcia, however, was not surprised. Despite their reputation, he says, American Pit Bull Terriers are filled with potential. “Pitties, by nature, are very loving and very loyal. If they are brought up properly and socialized properly, they are the best dogs in the world.”

  • 1 of 2

Read more: Inspiration, Pets, , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


+ add your own
5:31PM PST on Nov 7, 2012

thanks John, for being a hero for the dogs

3:14PM PST on Nov 7, 2012

Thanks John Garcia, for all your work and efforts. Woof Woof :)

9:22PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

I thank-you for the interesting article. And I am thankful for John Garcia & others like him & the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. From what I just read the John Garcia's in the world have a special talent (for lack of a better way to put it) a tenacity & stamina that most lack when dealing w/ this type of situation. John Garcia & the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary are to be commended for the work that they do. They truly work from their heart while caring for these unfortunate animals. Thank-you.

4:05PM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

It's wonderful to see that Garcia is doing what he has always wanted to do. These poor lost little souls are safe. They can't say thanks, but I can. Thank You. Best Friends Sanctuary is my favorite cause. These people do amazing work. I tell everyone I know about them. michael vick (small letters for a small, small male) should't be allowed to own a guppy.

10:24AM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Good article good man

9:15PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

Bless Best Friends and Garcia. Keep up the excellent work to socialize these poor misguided and mistreated souls.

6:49AM PST on Feb 10, 2011

How good to know there's a Garcia!

9:48AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

A wonderful article. Best Friends truly does amazing work.

8:38AM PST on Dec 19, 2010

Wonderful article--all the Best Friends staff and trainers are devoted and energetic, caring people. What they do many times cannot be captured with words! It is my #1 charity......

6:21AM PST on Dec 19, 2010


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Absolutely adorable but I still wish that everyone would get their cats and dogs spayed or neutered.…

Brazil nuts for me!


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!