GFAS February 2020 Newsletter

Accreditation? Direct Impacts are in the Details!

The GFAS Accreditation process requires a significant commitment of time and resources. There are multi-page animal care and operations questionnaires to complete and numerous official documents to upload, not to mention, site visits and compliance plans. That being said, the prodigious value of GFAS accreditation is undeniable! GFAS Accreditation provides recognition to animal sanctuaries and rescues worldwide that they provide humane and responsible care. Intrinsically, improvement in best practices improves the sustainability of organizations which increases our global capacity to care for so many at-risk animals.

The metrics GFAS often uses to report our impact include: the number of certifications per year; the number of animals affected; and the states and countries involved. However, even greater clarity of the value of accreditation to sanctuaries and rescues, can be obtained by looking at the details!

For a six-month period in 2019, direct accreditation outcomes were tabulated for 37 groups that completed their certification (new groups, renewals, verifications and accreditations). Direct accreditation outcomes were defined as specific actions taken by organizations during the process of becoming certified to meet GFAS standards of best practices. These specific actions included improvement in animal care, better management and governance practices, policy development and increased safety measures. In total, 45 individual GFAS standards were addressed by sanctuaries and rescues during their application process.

Click here to download the full document which includes descriptions of some of the most frequent actions/improvement made by animal sanctuaries and rescues as a direct result of their involvement in the GFAS accreditation process.

GFAS Policy on Organizational Updates

A friendly reminder for our currently Accredited and Verified groups, to keep us, at GFAS, up to date with any major changes which occur at your sanctuary organization.  Although GFAS status is for three years, we are delighted to hear from our certified groups at any time!

Click here to find the GFAS policy on organizational updates.  Thanks so much for your review and assistance.

Introducing Jessica Harris, GFAS Farm Sanctuary Program Volunteer

Her name may be familiar to you. Jessica (Jess) Harris wrote the in-depth December GFAS Newsletter piece titled, “Testing Boundaries: Why the EPA’s Mammal Testing Phase-Out Raised Eyebrows and Questions.” On a weekly basis, Jess shares on GFAS social media many funny, feel good, and important news items coming from our verified and accredited farmed animal sanctuaries.

Jess became a valued member of our GFAS team this past August. She has been involved volunteering and working at both companion animal shelters and farmed animal sanctuaries for over 14 years and has been a veterinary technician for over 10 years. In 2014, Jess received her MS in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts Vet School.

“I have a great love for farm sanctuaries in particular,” explained Jess recently. “They help people understand that although they are farmed by the billions, each of these animals are individuals, deserving respect, love, and a peaceful existence.”

Jess continued, “They serve an incredibly important role in fostering connection to these animals who tend to be far removed from us and “invisible”. They also provide a safe space for those of us fighting to help animals to feel understood. Throughout the years as a volunteer bearing witness to their past trauma and forming relationships with these lucky few, I’m humbled by their resilience and learn something new. I feel it is my duty, from my privileged position as a human, to do whatever I can to help them.”

We are fortunate to have Jessica Harris on our team and value the compassion and dedication she brings. Keep an eye out for another article from Jess in the GFAS March Newsletter when she interviews one of our farmed animal sanctuary founders.

Featured Organizations

Wild Futures, the first GFAS Accredited sanctuary in Europe earns Re-Accreditation.

Wild Futures is a primate welfare and conservation charity that carries out rescue and rehabilitation work at The Monkey Sanctuary in beautiful Cornwall, England. This well-established organization provides compassionate lifetime care for 46 New & Old World monkeys that have been rescued from the UK’s rampant primate pet trade and entertainment industry. Wild Futures is committed to offering monkeys the peace, respect, care and companionship they need in order to learn how to be monkeys again. Monkey pairs and larger groups are able to play and enjoy each other amidst the varied enrichment in their spacious indoor and outdoor enclosures.

Executive Director, Rachel Hevesi is a leading campaigner for the permanent ban on the primate pet trade. Rachel and her team provide vital information to the public and politicians through the onsite educational center, outreach campaigns and direct lobbying of the government. The organization is also highly focused on sustainability practices that will serve the monkeys long-term. This sanctuary and administrative building run on biomass!

Congratulations on your Re-Accreditation! Learn more about Wild Futures here:

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary

While many of Ohio’s animal welfare organizations exist to help dogs and cats, few organizations exist in the state to help farmed animals that are abandoned or ill-treated. Ohio’s humane societies and law enforcement agencies are fortunate to have the highly professional assistance of GFAS Verified, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary. Happy Trails Farm has been established since 2006 and has provided rehabilitation and a safe haven for numerous horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, goats and turkeys. With direction from exceptional leadership, their facility is constantly evolving to meet the needs of animals in their care. Many of the animals that call Happy Trails Farm home have required significant veterinary care and rehabilitation.

Visitors are invited to register for guided tours with trained staff and volunteers to learn more about the stories of the animals and how they are being helped. Visitors may have limited interaction with animals, this is a sanctuary, but they will learn a great deal about compassion, hope and healing.  For more information, please visit:

Bear Valley Rescue

Bear Valley Rescue in Sundre, Albert, Canada is an equine sanctuary that was founded in 2004. Bear Valley Rescue became GFAS verified in September 2015, and is actually the very first GFAS verified equine sanctuary in Canada, setting the precedent for more equine sanctuaries to follow suit. Bear Valley Rescue has around 150 horses under their care which include former race horses, and those from auctions, feedlots, and destined for slaughter, along with other resident animals such as rabbits, chickens, pigs, goats, llamas and cows. The rescue is set on 40 acres, and offers spacious pasture for their residents to graze and roam.

Bear Valley Rescue has an active adoption program for some of the horses in their care. They enforce a strict adoption policy that aligns with GFAS’ standards to ensure the long-term well-being of all equine under their care. In the rescue world, it’s not uncommon that we put our four-legged friends needs first and foremost. Mike and Kathy Bartley, Bear Valley Rescue’s founders, couldn’t have said it any better than this – “We have dedicated ourselves to taking in and, where possible, re-homing, horses and other animals, and in the process have made a lot of sacrifices – things such as ‘spare time’ or ‘vacation’ just don’t exist any more!  But we do what we do because we are passionate about the animals and feel they all deserve a humane and peaceful existence, no matter what their past or future potential.”

Newly Accredited or Verified Organizations

Draft Gratitude, New Hampshire
Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries, United Kingdom

Three Year Recertifications

Panhandle Equine Rescue, Florida
Primates Incorporated (Verified to Accredited), Wisconsin
Racer Placers, Wisconsin