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ANIMAL HAVEN GETS STARRY SUPPORT

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is getting help from its good friends in Hollywood.

ABC sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres is shown on the phone asking to speak to Bailey, the dog whose care she sponsors at the sanctuary.Kelsey Grammer taped a plug for Best Friends while on the set of "Frasier."

In another TV ad, former "Tonight Show" sidekick Ed McMahon says he and his wife, Pam, sponsor Kirk, an old heeler dog, and Crisco, a feral cat, at the desert sanctuary.

A record company recently issued an album of country songs about dogs and is donating a portion of the proceeds to the southern Utah pet haven.

"Utah is not as out of the way to people in the entertainment industry as it may seem," said Frances Battista, director of Best Friends outreach programs.

"A lot of people we come into contact with in Los Angeles have homes in Utah; they've been to Sundance and Park City, and they enjoy the positive approach we take to animals," Battista said.

Best Friends operates what it says is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the United States.

The compound in Angel Canyon near Kanab is home to more than 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, birds and other animals. Many were neglected, abused or injured and are unadoptable in normal animal-shelter programs.

More than 40,000 people worldwide are members of Best Friends, receiving the group's monthly magazine or paying $20 monthly to be a "Guardian Angel" for one of the animals living at the sanctuary.

Many of the pet lovers are famous, a fact that sometimes escapes the staff at Best Friends. "Melrose Place" star Courtney Thorne-Smith was a regular supporter of Best Friends before anyone on the staff realized she was a celebrity.

"We'd been living under a rock out here," says Battista, who runs Best Friends' adoption and rescue program in the Los Angeles area. "We barely get television reception. Now we subscribe to People just to keep up."

Battista figures the unconditional love that animals provide may account for their allure to celebrities.

"Animals are loyal, loving and aren't after your money," he says. "They may be after your food but not your money."