What Types Of Organizations Can Apply? 

Our accreditation/verification program is used to evaluate three different types of organizations that care for displaced equine, wildlife and farm animals – all animal species except domestic cats and dogs (both socialized and feral) — worldwide.


A sanctuary is an establishment that provides lifetime care for animals that have been abused, injured, abandoned, or are otherwise in need. The animals may come from sources including, but not limited to, private owners, research laboratories, government authorities, the entertainment industry, and zoos.

Rescue Center

A rescue center is an establishment that takes in animals and cares for them temporarily, with the goal of placing them in permanent ownership or foster care with approved members of the public, or with accredited or verified sanctuaries. Animals that may be outplaced by a rescue center to members of the public include domestic equines, some farmed animals, some birds and some reptiles, as permitted by law in the nation and locality in which the rescue center operates.

Rehabilitation Center

A rehabilitation center is an establishment that takes in wildlife temporarily for the purpose of rehabilitating them so that they can be released to the wild in their native environments. The rehabilitation center has a written reintroduction protocol in place and identified locations in which the animals can be released, and which follows release/reintroduction guidelines produced by national or international bodies and the GFAS standards.

Is Your Organization Eligible to Apply for GFAS Accreditation or Verification?

To be eligible for GFAS Accreditation or Verification, organizations must have non-profit /non-commercial status and endorse the following policies:

  • No captive breeding (with a potential exception for only those organizations having a bona fide release/ reintroduction program to return wildlife to the wild)
  • No commercial trade in animals or animal parts
  • No tours allowed that are not guided and conducted in a careful manner that minimizes the impact on the animals and their environment, does not cause them stress, and gives them the ability to seek undisturbed privacy and quiet
  • Animals are not exhibited or taken from the sanctuary or enclosures/habitats for non-medical reasons, with some limited exceptions for certain animal species, such as horses, under approved circumstances
  • The public does not have direct contact with wildlife (with some limited exceptions as outlined in the standards, in conjunction with adoption/foster programs for some birds and small reptiles as allowed by law)

In addition, organizations must demonstrate:

  • Adherence to standards on animal care including housing, veterinary care, nutrition, animal well-being and handling policies, as well as standards on physical facilities, records and staff safety, confirmed by an extensive questionnaire, site visit, and interviews
  • Ethical practices in fundraising
  • Ethical acquisition and disposition of animals
  • Restrictions on research, limited to non-invasive projects that provide a health, welfare or conservation benefit to the individual animal and/or captive animal management and/or population conservation
  • The existence of a contingency plan if the property where the sanctuary is located is not owned by the sanctuary or its governing organization.

Accreditation vs. Verification: What is the difference?

In addition to meeting the requirements described above, accreditation involves an additional rigorous screening of compliance with GFAS operational standards regarding matters such as:

Ready to Apply for Accreditation or Verification?

If you meet the above guidelines, begin the application process here.
Or learn more about the GFAS Standards here.