GFAS Verified Sanctuary Criteria and Forms
The primary purpose of all sanctuaries is to humanely and responsibly protect and care for each individual animal resident. Therefore, each GFAS Verified Sanctuary must meet the following criteria. Each is eligible to become accredited via a rigorous evaluation process.
- Humane and Responsible Care of the Sanctuary Animals
Humane and responsible care of the sanctuary animals is verified by a GFAS site visit every three years.
- Nonprofit Status
Sanctuaries located in the United States or its territories shall have 501(c)3 status described in Section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi), Internal Revenue Code 1986, and its subsequent amendments. Sanctuaries in all other countries shall have the equivalent designation in the country of registration.
- Required Licenses and Permits
Sanctuaries shall obtain and maintain all permits and licenses required under city, county, state/province, country and international laws and statutes for each animal entering and housed at the sanctuary.
- Commercial Trade Prohibition
No commercial trade in animals shall occur (including, but not limited to the sale of animals, animal parts, by-products, or offspring.) An exception may be made for purchase of an animal, with approval of an appropriate decision-making body of the sanctuary, if it is determined that the purchase is the only sure means of saving the animal from certain abuse, suffering or probable death (e.g., purchase of animals who might otherwise end up in slaughter).
- No or Restricted Contact with Public
In wild animal sanctuaries, no unescorted public visitation shall occur. This is not to exclude discreet, nonintrusive observation by a carefully evaluated person, such as a wildlife student, as allowed by the appropriate decision-making body of the sanctuary. No direct contact between the public and wild animals shall occur. In equine and farmed animal sanctuaries with adoption programs, supervised direct contact is allowed for potential evaluated adopters. Direct contact is also allowed for potential adopters for some limited avian and small reptiles species, solely if such adoption is in accordance with local, state/province , national, and international law and regulations. In certain rehabilitation/reintroduction programs, with young orphaned wildlife, evaluated members of the public may assist staff in carefully structured programs which ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the animals and the public. In farmed animal sanctuaries and those housing primarily domesticated animals, unescorted public visitation is allowed in certain cases where the temperament of the animal(s) in question makes such interaction stress-free and safe for both animals and humans and where the visitors are evaluated by sanctuary staff.Wild animals shall not be taken from the Sanctuary or enclosures for exhibition, education, or research purposes. Rare exceptions for education may be allowed as approved by the appropriate decision-making body of the sanctuary based on mandatory permit requirements (when it is felt there is no other feasible alternative, such as the use of a webcam, for meeting the requirements) and based on the temperament of the particular animal involved. In no case shall such use cause distress for the animal, nor put animals or humans at risk.Fundraising activities approved by an appropriate decision-making body of the sanctuary are allowed provided the activity: 1) does not violate the above criteria regarding animal contact with the public, 2) the activities are deemed to not be distressing or in any way negatively disruptive to the animals and their normal routine, nor are normal routines designed specifically for fundraising needs 3) animals are not in enclosures or habitats specifically designed to minimize their privacy and all wild animals have the ability to seek undisturbed privacy and quiet and 4) animals are not being used as entertainment, which of course includes the performance of “tricks” for public display.
- Individual Welfare-Centric Research
Sanctuaries are prohibited from making any resident animals available for participation in research studies unless the studies are strictly observational and do not interfere with the normal daily activities of individual animals. An exception may be made, with approval of an appropriate decision-making body of the sanctuary if: 1) it is determined that the health and welfare interests of the individual animal are best served by participating in a new treatment study, and 2) there is reason to believe that outcome of the study will be a tangible benefit for the individual animal involved, and 3) the study does not prevent normal activities of daily living. Naturally, interventions that cause pain or distress are unacceptable.
- No Propagation
No intentional propagation of animals occurs, and sound practices are in place to prevent propagation. An exception may be made for rehabilitation and release centers engaged in a bona fide breeding-for-release-program of endangered species with available release sites within the state/province, conducted with specific conservation goals, in accordance with local, state/province, national, and international law and regulations.
If you operate a sanctuary and wish to apply, please check out the process, and contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Robin will help you determine if your organization should apply to become a GFAS Verified Sanctuary or a GFAS Accredited Sanctuary. Then you can begin downloading and completing the correct applications, which are found under DOWNLOADS. (Note: At this time, we are not Verifying or Accrediting sanctuaries that are exclusively devoted to domestic dogs or domestic cats.)
If you are a potential donor to a sanctuary, please feel free to download any of the required applications to see the criteria to which sanctuaries are held in order to become GFAS Verified.
Note: Inclusion as a GFAS Verified Sanctuary is based on conditions and circumstances during the time the evaluation takes place. Sanctuaries are re-evaluated every three years and self-reporting occurs annually between evaluations. If you have reason to believe that a GFAS Verified Sanctuary is violating any of the criteria above, please fill out the online Concerns about GFAS Verified Sanctuaries form.
DOWNLOADS: Forms to complete
To become a GFAS Verified Sanctuary, you must complete the first three forms below, plus the applicable Animal Care applications. A site visit will also be made. Given a successful outcome, you are then a GFAS Verified Sanctuary, with annual updates due. For more details, read about the complete process.
Step One for Verification
- Initial Application Part A: General Information. This link will take you to the online application for Part A.
- Form B: There is a link to download this application on the site above (the same website as Form A).
Step Two for Verification is the applicable Verification application which focuses on criteria 2-7 above. Please request from GFAS when you are ready! Just email email@example.com.
Step Three for Verification is the applicable Animal Care applications for the species in your care. Please request from GFAS when you are ready! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.