Giving Back with BestPals Animal Rescue Center

boy & kitten

By Kelsey Smith

About the organization

BestPals Animal Rescue Center is a no-kill, nonprofit 501(c)(3) rescue and shelter run by volunteers with donations by individuals, local businesses and grants. Located in Holland, the center takes in owner-surrendered and transferred dogs and cats when space and resources are available. The center offers both adopting and fostering options.

Michelle Kenat and kitty
Michelle Kenat, executive director of BestPals Animal Rescue Center Photo: BestPals

Meet Michelle Kenat, executive director

How did you get started here?

I moved to Holland 18 years ago from Chicago to raise my kids and learned it was a really wonderful place to raise a family. I found the community here was always kind, supportive and generous. In Chicago, I worked for several shelters as a teen, and in Michigan, I felt I needed to continue my passion; so, we opened this shelter in Ottawa County. We found that many of the shelters here were crowded; there wasn’t a lot of room for owner surrenders. So, we saw that need and wanted to help first with that and then help with overflow.

What kind of impact does BestPals
have on the community?

We figure we’ve saved over 500 animals since opening six years ago. That has made a huge impact on the community. When people see the difficult pets we take in, and they watch the daily care we give them, they’re amazed. I think people feel good when they visit. I think my niche is more one-on-one animal care and finding the right home placement for every pet. I’ve made a lot of acquaintances in the community and friends, and I think that’s helped with local support. We host fundraisers often; the community has fully embraced BestPals and I’m just really grateful for that.

Why this matters.

At BestPals, I feel like we can keep people in touch with their humanity. They see the need for helping animals and they know that we can make a difference. People get to see so many wonderful outcomes. We do have some tragic, sad stories, but we do have wonderful outcomes that can make you feel good about the world and people, and that’s a lot to add into our day — just a little bit of happiness. This is truly my passion, and I’m very lucky to be able to share it.

How you can help.

We have plenty of volunteer opportunities; we work with a lot of companies and organizations. We can come up with different projects and volunteer opportunities for whatever we need and what the group is looking to do. You can also sponsor a pet and attend one of our fundraising events. We run by appointment, so calling ahead for volunteer opportunities is best.

BestPals Animal Rescue Center

3888 Blair St., Holland