A note to foundations and public charities from Patty Finch, GFAS Executive Director:

Photo courtesy of Big Cat Rescue

Photo courtesy of Big Cat Rescue

When beginning my five years in animal grantmaking, the first thing I was challenged with was a previously awarded grant to an animal sanctuary. Despite a site visit before the grant was awarded, the facility turned out to develop criminal animal abuse problems…an animal grantmaker’s worse nightmare. It was then that I first learned that sanctuary funding can be risky business. Hoarders, game ranches, roadside zoos, wildlife “pet” owners seeking permits, good-hearted folks in over their heads, and plain old con artists….all can present themselves to funders as legitimate sanctuaries, or rescues, or rehabilitation centers.

Through a sound accreditation and monitoring process, GFAS highlights those animal facilities which are providing animals the highest standards of care. GFAS conducts a thorough and objective evaluation, measured against clear standards, in the following areas:

  • sanctuary structure and governance, including finances and long-term sustainability
  • guidelines (regarding acquisition, disposition, commercial activities, fundraising and more)
  • community outreach and education
  • staffing
  • physical facilities
  • security/safety
  • animal care standards, with clear guidelines on the humane care of animal species in captive facilities (GFAS does not have standards for domestic cats and dogs)
    • housing, sanitation, temperature, humidity, ventilation, lighting
    • physical facilities and security, record keeping and transport
    • nutritional requirements and food storage and handling
    • veterinary medical program and care
    • well-being (physical, social, psychological) and handling

GFAS is a source of reliable information that funders can count on, with a meaningful accreditation “seal of approval”. In differentiating legitimate, strong sanctuaries from pseudo-sanctuaries, GFAS is helping all true sanctuaries succeed. GFAS provides these sanctuaries, as well as rescues and rehabilitation centers, with a wide variety of resources, including convenient means for strong, established sanctuaries to share with the field their proven methodology in sanctuary management, including succession planning and all facets of the areas outlined above.

The process of accreditation/verification is thorough, as are the standards. GFAS is hopeful that additional funders will support sanctuaries with compliance grants as they seek to meet these standards, and support more established sanctuaries as they devise mentoring programs to help other sanctuaries attain accreditation. Funders can know that in helping sanctuaries meet GFAS standards, a solid infrastructure is being created which will benefit animals for decades.

Please feel free to contact members of the GFAS Board or me for more information at patty@sanctuaryfederation.org or 928-472-1173.

Patty Finch