April 2023

April 2023

Sanctuary Lifelines : A story of volunteer appreciation
By Jess Harris, GFAS Farmed Animal Program Director

I still remember the relief.

I had been drowning in the never-ending to-do list that day. Urgent intake requests. Vet appointments I needed to prep for. Updates to this week’s med sheets. Oh no, that resident needed her eye drops at noon – run and do that. Try to refocus. Did I eat any breakfast? Put away the latest food order. Update my coworker on what had happened over the weekend. Finish cleaning the staff-only quarantine enclosures. On, and on, and on, my mind reeling.

And then she stepped in. Darnell*, my most steadfast volunteer.

Every day, the relief would flood in. She was here. She was capable, wonderful with the animals, always willing to help, and reliably showed up every day.

I could count on her, 5 days a week, on the clock, ready to step in to socialize, clean, drive animals to vet visits, help the other volunteers, and set up the new arrival’s pen. Whatever I needed, she was willing to help. Every day, she buoyed me up and every day I felt immense gratitude for her.

Volunteers are lifelines. For both the humans and non-human animals at sanctuaries.

I am certain that I am not alone in my experience. Sanctuaries, rescues and shelters are demanding workplaces that are often chronically understaffed. This puts a lot of stress on staff members. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Reliable volunteers are often the saving grace for the staff and the residents. With their help, the staff’s workload can be alleviated, while the animals receive the care and attention they need. Those who are there routinely know the residents, the care routine, and can jump in and help. It is hard to overstate the value of regular volunteers.

And not only for animal care. Some were fantastic at repairs, some kept up our social media following, and some handled adoptions and record-keeping. They each brought a unique talent that could help animals.

I don’t think I could sufficiently thank my volunteers for the incredible support they provided. I hoped they felt my gratitude and relief for their presence. But I think perhaps, if my thanks were not enough, it was the residents themselves, and their happy endings, that kept them coming back.

This week, let’s all make an effort to show our gratitude and appreciation for volunteers: those running entire sanctuaries themselves and those complementing the work of staff. Make no mistake, they are the lifelines that allow us all to do this lifesaving work, and we are SO grateful.

In this vein, GFAS wants to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing contributions of our own volunteers, who put in so many hours helping sanctuaries help animals here at GFAS. To Michael, Suzanne, all our collaborating site visitors over the year, and our wonderful Board of Directors, we are so incredibly grateful for your time, kindness, and dedication to sanctuaries. Thank you thank you thank you! You help make true sanctuary possible for animals.

Here we’ve included a link with some great ideas for showing your volunteers some love this week: https://www.classy.org/blog/volunteer-appreciation/.

*Volunteer’s name has been changed for anonymity

GFAS Welcomes New Board Member, Wim DeKok

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries is delighted to introduce Wim DeKok as the newest member of the GFAS Board of Directors. Wim brings a wealth of experience in the field of animal welfare, and is especially looking forward to assisting GFAS enhance our international efforts – building capacity and initiatives to increase brand awareness and grow sanctuary certification outside of the United States.  Welcome, Wim! You can read Wim’s full bio here.

Have you heard? Coming up in May is Adopt a Horse Month

“Adopt a Horse Month supports equine rescue groups across the country working tirelessly to find safe, loving homes for the horses in their care,” 
said Christie Schulte Kappert, Senior Director of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “We encourage all adoption organizations to join the month by spotlighting their adoptable equines, and the public to help by adopting horses and raising awareness in their communities about equine adoption and its lifesaving importance.”

 As an Industry Partner of the ASPCA Right Horse program, GFAS will be celebrating Adopt a Horse Month! Our shared goal is to massively increase adoptions in the United States by bringing awareness and visibility to adopted horses.

#AdoptAHorse Month officially begins on Monday, May 1, so start getting ready to promote your adoptable horses now. Take photos or video of each horse that shows his or her personality. Make social media posts for the entire month of May. Send emails to your donors. Include information on your adoptable horses in newsletters and on your website.

 Join us in supporting equine adoption by visiting myrighthorse.org.

Tenth Annual Giving Day for Apes is Coming This October!

Save the date for this year’s Giving Day for Apes! On Tuesday, October 3rd, GFAS will again be presenting this 24-hour fundraiser to support ape sanctuaries and rescue centers in Asia, Africa, and North America. Since its beginning in 2014 as “Great Ape Giving Day”, the event has raised and awarded over $5 million to participating sanctuaries. We are looking forward to another successful year and can’t wait to tell you more!

Stay tuned for more details, and visit www.givingdayforapes.org to learn more about the event.

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary Becomes GFAS Verified

Nobby and companion Nana, photo © Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary

At Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary, located on 10 wooded acres in Ascot in the U.K., primates live in peace and safety among their own kind. For co-founders Jim and Sharon Shaw, it was their dream “to create a true sanctuary where primates could live out their remaining years, away from stress, fear, and abuse.” That dream became a reality in 2007.

Since that time, Lakeview has rescued more than 50 monkeys and lemurs, most of whom have come from the primate pet trade, laboratories, circuses, and zoos. This includes Nobby, a crab eating macaque who is one of Lakeview’s first and oldest residents. Nobby was kept as a pet for more than 20 years, living alone in a small space with no access to the outdoors. His arrival at sanctuary was the start of a new life where he is able to live as a monkey in a large enclosure with enrichment, a proper diet, and companionship. Lakeview shares that Nobby “took to his new found freedom with gusto. Although small in stature, Nobby has an engaging personality and appears to love life.”

We congratulate Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary on its well-earned GFAS Verification. To learn more about the sanctuary and its residents, visit www.lakeviewmonkeysanctuary.com.

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center

GFAS Accredited, Rescate Wildlife has been at the forefront of animal rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary in Costa Rica since 1995. Located in Alajuela, Rescate Wildlife saves thousands of animals every year including birds, primates and reptiles through innovative rehabilitation methods. One remarkable example is Grecia, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, who received a 3D printed prostheses that restored the upper part of her beak. For animals ready for release, two remote wildlife refuges provide the opportunity to “soft release” animals in a supported environment that will help to ensure their long-term survival.

It all began when Rescate Wildlife’s founder, Dennis Janik, was so moved by critical environmental issues in Costa Rica that he moved there to spearhead solutions. Over the years, Dennis and his team developed numerous animal care protocols for dozens of Costa Rican native species. These successful methods were compiled into a highly sought after manual distributed throughout Latin America. A leading advocate in the region, Janik also proposed and helped pass a Costa Rican law that bans sport hunting and the keeping of wildlife as pets in Costa Rica. Rescate Wildlife currently promotes the #stopanimalselfies campaign, an effort to raise awareness about the harm inflicted on wildlife commercially exploited through tourism.

It’s no wonder Dennis Janik was the recipient of the GFAS Carole Noon Award for outstanding leadership in 2017. Rescate Wildlife’s extraordinary efforts have been key in reversing the local extinction of many globally and locally threatened species. GFAS is proud to stand with Rescate Wildlife and their work to restore and protect Costa Rican biodiversity. To learn more, please visit www.rescatewildlife.org.

The Oregon 71 

The everyday work of sanctuaries is something we already consider fairly heroic. But over the last two weeks Accredited Heartwood Haven has set the bar high for feats of animal rescue.

In their neighboring state, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon confiscated 71 pigs and 16 goats following felony cruelty charges in January. This spurred the Sheriff’s Office to reach out to the Roy-based sanctuary for help.

“The animals were found in a barren field,” stated the release. “Around them lay the decomposing bodies of their friends and family members. They died from starvation.” Few sanctuaries could take on a rescue of this scope, but Heartwood Haven has taken on the challenge.

Upon hearing the call, they have mobilized a major fundraiser, including donor matches, to fund the infrastructure, feed, care and transport costs for these pigs to come to true sanctuary. This has meant rapid construction of a 7-acre quarantine space, arranging transport for the pigs across state lines, including a stop at OSU for health certificates, and subsequent care for numerous pigs who have been starved, some of whom are also pregnant.

On their social channels, they describe the scene:

“Imagine you are a pig for the moment. You are in a barren field. Around you lay the decomposing bodies of your friends and your family members. They have died of starvation. You yourself can feel your skin clinching to your bones, and you are losing hope. You are intelligent, and you know what your future holds.”

From this bleak existence, they have successfully arrived in sanctuary. Check it out here.

GFAS Certified Horse Protection Association of Florida partners with Ryan Rose Horsemanship

Photo: Lilly, Rose, Petunia, and Iris via https://hpaf.org/

Late last year, GFAS Verified Horse Protection Association of Florida (HPAF) assisted with a large-scale rescue in which HPAF took in 4 semi-feral mustang mares. After several months of nursing these mares, (referred to as the ‘Flower Girls’), back to health, each mare was introduced to Ryan Rose and his natural horsemanship training method during a week-long training session.

The goal for Lilly, Rose, Petunia, and Iris (the ‘Flower Girls’), was to get them ready for adoption. That process started with learning basic training under the experienced hand of Ryan Rose from Ryan Rose Horsemanship. These horses will not only learn how to wear a halter, walk on a lead, receive important hands-on care such as veterinary and hoof care, but also (and maybe most importantly) how to trust people. After establishing a training foundation with Ryan, the capable staff at Horse Protection Association of Florida continued the rehabilitation and training process with the ‘Flower Girls’ so that someday soon, each mare will find her forever home. For more information on the ‘Flower Girls’ and their training progress, check out the HPAF website blog at: https://hpaf.org/flower-power/.


New Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, GFAS has certified one new organization, transitioned one organization from Verified to Accredited status, and renewed one GFAS organization!

Congratulations to all these groups!

New Certifications

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary, United Kingdom

Transition from Verified to Accredited Status

Trillium Creek Training & Rehabilitation Coalition, Oregon


Horse Protection Association of Florida


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