What is a Sanctuary

Around the world, there are many entities that describe themselves as a “sanctuary” or “rescue” for displaced, wild, equine and farm animals. However, the quality of animal care and sustainability of the organization varies widely among them.

It is a poorly regulated industry, in which facilities that keep animals in deplorable conditions can identify themselves as compared to those of the highest quality. For anyone invested in the welfare of captive animals, there is a need to differentiate the best sanctuaries and rescues to determine where funds would be best invested, where the need for help is greatest, who provides a model to follow and who can be turned to in times of crisis.

GFAS’ definition of “sanctuary” is any facility providing temporary or permanent safe haven to animals in need while meeting the principles of true sanctuaries: providing excellent and humane care for their animals in a non-exploitative environment and having ethical policies in place, regarding:

  • tours,
  • commercial trade,
  • exhibition,
  • acquisition and disposition,
  • breeding and more

All sanctuaries accredited by GFAS are true sanctuaries, meeting these basic principles and meeting our Standards of Excellence.