Best Friends Animal Society’s newest facility is the hottest thing in puppydom since chew toys: a complex dedicated to providing puppies with everything they need to become healthy, well-balanced members of their adoptive families.

The Val’s Puppy Care Center will be formally dedicated at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab. The first class of puppies will march proudly into the center, escorted by major donors to the project. On Saturday, March 26, there will be a public open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors can tour the facilities and get pointers from Best Friends’ dog trainers on how to socialize their own puppies.

The new facility will accommodate up to 240 puppies and mother dogs and was made possible through many generous donors; including eBay Foundation, Valerie Diker, Laurie and Carlee McGrath, and the Enrietto and Kallas Foundation. The center will be a safe haven for orphaned puppies rescued from puppy mills, hoarders, abusive situations, or abandonment, as well as expectant mother dogs rescued from these situations.

“eBay Foundation is thrilled to have teamed up with our community of buyers and sellers to support the opening of the Best Friends Animal Society’s new puppy care center,” said Lauren Moore, eBay Foundation Executive Director. “This collaborative effort proves that by working together, we are able to accomplish so much more than we ever could alone.”

The undeniable cuteness factor of puppies will be on display at both the dedication and the open house but there is a very serious purpose behind this facility.

The new puppy care center ties into Best Friends’ anti-puppy mill campaign, Puppies Aren’t Products ®. Best Friends continues to campaign on behalf of puppies, and is committed to ending the practice of inhumane commercial breeding. As Best Friends’ work in this area has increased, there was an urgent need for a facility to provide the kind of medical, social and emotional care puppies rescued from this environment need prior to finding permanent, loving homes. Until this facility opened, Best Friends was limited to caring for about 65 puppies each year.

The new facilities also tie into Best Friends’ campaign to help people keep their pets for life, First Home Forever Home ®.

“Puppies are people magnets. Their limitless affection, natural curiosity, playfulness, and puppy breath appeal to our most basic nurturing instinct. But puppies who have not been properly socialized run a high risk of losing their home in the first year of their life,” said Patty Hegwood, Best Friends’ director of animal care.

“Puppy socialization classes have been a great success at Best Friends and a popular volunteer activity. Prior to holding the classes, as many as 75 percent of adopted puppies were returned to us. Because of the class training, the number is virtually zero. Now, with the new facility, the number of puppies who graduate from Best Friends’ puppy classes will significantly increase,” Hegwood said.

Hegwood added the puppy center will feed into Best Friends outreach as well. “Our volunteers come and learn good foundational care and training. It is really a great opportunity for them to go back into their communities and local shelters and teach these valuable skills. And even though Best Friends makes a life commitment to every animal in our care, our hope is that we send these little guys out with a solid foundation, so they have a home for life with their families,” Hegwood said.