Who We Are

Kayla Riding, user specialist, SPDA-Network

Kayla with two dogsWhile Kayla graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor's degree in architectural and environmental design, it was another passion altogether that led her to Best Friends. She balanced her studies with advocating for pit bull terrier-like dogs and even started a rescue group to help those in need of homes. Naturally she ended up fostering many adult dogs and puppies over the years, developing a soft spot for those with medical issues or quirky behavior challenges. Seeing their transformation to healthy, well-balanced animals was so rewarding that she decided to follow her love and seek a career in animal welfare.

Kayla joined Best Friends in 2014, moving to Kanab to work at the sanctuary as a Dogtown caregiver. In 2019, she took on a supervisory role in the department and discovered she enjoyed helping people as much as she did helping animals. Four years later she moved into her current role providing user support for the new Shelter Pet Data Alliance (SPDA), which gathers real-time data from shelters and rescues around the country to better guide them in immediate lifesaving strategies.

She lives in Kanab with her husband and two daughters. Since no family is complete without animals, they also share their home with four dogs, two goats, one horse, two mules, and a flock of chickens. When she’s not at work, Kayla can be found chasing her children around, spending time with her many furry family members, or just enjoying the gorgeous southern Utah landscape.