Best Friends Animal Society Announces Paul Berry to Leave CEO Post

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Best Friends Animal Society Schedules Nationwide Executive Search to Fill Top Leadership Position

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We thank Paul for his many contributions to the organization, beginning as chief information officer and in the past three years as chief executive officer

The Board of Directors of Best Friends Animal Society announced today that by mutual agreement between the board and Paul Berry that Mr. Berry would no longer serve as chief executive officer of the national animal welfare organization, a position he has held since the spring of 2006. The board is in discussion with Mr. Berry about a possible future role with the organization.

"We thank Paul for his many contributions to the organization, beginning as chief information officer and in the past three years as chief executive officer," said John Fripp, president of the Best Friends board and one of the organization's founders. "Paul led Best Friends' massive animal rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and contributed mightily toward making us more prominent as a national animal rescue organization and advocate for companion animals."

Berry also was instrumental in the discussions and process that resulted in Best Friends saving the lives of the 22 pit bulls from the Michael Vick dog fighting case by bringing them to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located in southwestern Utah. He also has championed Best Friends campaign to save the reputation of the American pit bull terrier, and helped the organization continue the transition from a unique, founder-operated sanctuary to a national animal rescue organization.

Fripp said Best Friends would immediately begin a national search for a new executive director, and in the interim an executive team, in conjunction with the board of directors, would oversee day-to-day operations.

"Our collective goal is to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure that our exciting work on national animal welfare initiatives and the accomplishments that we have achieved continue to expand," Fripp added.

Best Friends has been in the midst of an organization restructuring program that began four years ago with a revamping of the organization's overall structure and gradual transitioning of the 22 original founders of the organization out of the organization's day-to-day operations. The second stage, which involves a move toward a more conventional outside board of directors, begins Jan. 24 when a transitional board is put in place.

"The final stage of this gradual plan was to take a close look at the executive level of Best Friends and the type of leadership needed as we move forward," Fripp added. "These discussions resulted in the agreement between Paul Berry and the board for Paul to cease functioning as CEO."

Best Friends' work with companion animals received unprecedented media coverage in 2008, beginning with the arrival of the Michael Vick dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, prompting front page headlines at the New York Times and other national media outlets.

Also in 2008, the National Geographic Channel television series "DogTown," which chronicles Best Friends' work with dogs at the sanctuary, made its debut. Eight episodes have aired on the national cable network, and another 10 new episodes are scheduled to begin airing March 20.

More about Best Friends Animal Society:
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009, Best Friends Animal Society is one of America's foremost animal rescue organizations. Best Friends advances nationwide animal welfare initiatives by working with shelter and rescue groups around the country. On any given day Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation's largest facility for abused, abandoned companion animals located in southwestern Utah, is home to approximately 2,000 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. The society also publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation's largest general interest, pet-related magazine with approximately 300,000 subscribers. For more information, visit http://www.bestfriends.org.

John Polis
Manager of Public Relations
435-644-2001 ext. 4858

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