April 2021

In this issue:


Thank You, Volunteers!

In the U.S. and Canada, National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 18-24.  However, this week gives us great occasion to celebrate the tremendous work of sanctuary and rescue volunteers, and those who volunteer directly with GFAS, no matter their location in the world!

To say that GFAS is grateful for the contributions made by so many, on behalf of the animals, would be a huge understatement.  We know that volunteering for the animals regularly means going above and beyond, whether that’s showing up early to muck out five extra stalls, picking up a hammer and nails to help with a renovation project, or collapsing into a desk chair after a long day caring for animals to send off a last-minute proposal for funding.  The time and talents of volunteers are so valuable and deserving of recognition.

The work accomplished by volunteers advances the mission of animal sanctuaries, rescues, transition and rehabilitation centers and often forms the backbone of the high standards of care and management seen at GFAS Accredited and Verified facilities.  Thank you for your dedication.  Your work makes an enormous difference!

With gratitude,

The GFAS Staff and Board

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GFAS is Celebrating Adopt a Horse Month April 26 Through May

Central to the work of many GFAS Certified Equine Welfare Organizations is their adoption and foster programs. Although we celebrate the brilliant work of GFAS organizations year-round, the month of May is a special time to highlight equine adoption and foster best practices and outcomes.  GFAS Standards P-1 and P-2 emphasize how important it is for adopted and fostered equines to have life-time safety nets, support, and responsible, quality care. More information regarding GFAS standards can be found at; https://sanctuaryfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Equine-standards-2020.pdf .

Share with us your adoption and foster stories and photos during the month of May () and we will share them on our social media.

Also, US-based animal welfare organizations that adopt out equines are invited to register with ASPCA for their first-ever Adopt a Horse Month! By joining this national platform, this gives you the opportunity for your horses and organization, to engage your community around equine adoption. You will get a promotional chalkboard, free professional development, membership in a collaborative group, and access to nationwide media exposure. Plus, ASPCA will give you tools to promote adoptions during Adopt a Horse month and beyond.

Sign up today before it is too late at: https://hubs.la/H0JgffW0

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Chewy Gives Back

Many may be familiar with online pet supply store Chewy.com – renowned for their excellent customer service (a human picks up the phone when you call!) and breadth of products (companion, exotic, equine, and farmed animal). We also love that they don’t sell animals. Their progressive business model extends to include a program called Chewy Gives Back that directly supports shelters, rescues, and…sanctuaries!

We contacted a Chewy rep to find out more about how the program can benefit our members:

 In 2012, we launched our Shelter & Rescue Network and have raised over $61M for rescues and animal advocate organizations across the United States. This program can help you get some valuable support, donations, and exposure opportunities. 

Chewy is very excited to announce that we’ve officially launched our Wish List feature through our Shelter and Rescue Network! Our Wishlist will allow our partners to create a personalized list of items to let their supporters know exactly what they need and even how many. Supporters can fill a special “Wish List” cart with these goodies to have it shipped to the organization right away. As a partner, you will also be eligible to join our Rescue Referral Program where we will donate funds to your group for every first-time customer you refer to Chewy through Partnerize.

We are fully dedicated to helping our network members raise awareness and raise much needed funds. There is absolutely no cost and no commitment to join our network. All we require is that you are a U.S. registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Together, we believe that we can truly make a difference!

To get started, please see the link below. We’ll send you an email to notify you of your status once your application has been reviewed.


If you have any questions or need help with anything at all, please feel free to send us a bark anytime. We look forward to putting our paws together!

The Chewy Shelters and Rescue Team   

We thank the team at Chewy for this fantastic opportunity to give back.

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Serenity Farm Equine Sanctuary in Louisa, Virginia

Located on 21 acres of grassy pastures, fields, and wooded horse trails, GFAS Accredited Serenity Farm’s team of volunteers care for twenty to thirty equines of all breeds. Most of their resident animals come to them from law enforcement seizures and owner surrenders. This organization is devoted to helping abandoned and abused equines that many rescues may not attempt to rehabilitate because of the challenges involved. However, Rhondavena and her husband Bill are lifelong equine enthusiasts and trainers having worked with both Clinton Anderson and Julie Goodnight. They focus completely on the individual needs of each equine.

Recently, Bill built a special stock to assist one of their equines, Orla, who requires numerous trims and bandage changes for hoof cankers which are an overgrowth of tissue on each of the soles of her hooves. This innovative new stock was designed with straps to hold up each of her feet safely and comfortably so she can receive needed treatments.

The Serenity Farm team also is dedicated to educating the public about the value of rescued equines. People of all ages including those with physical and emotional challenges, are welcome to visit the farm and interact with their horses. They learn more about the care of these animals and the therapeutic effect of being with them. For more information visit Serenity Farm Equine Sanctuary – Home

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Omega, The Survivor

On February 1, 2021, Omega the donkey became very ill. Botulism or another toxicity was at the top of the potential reasons, but definitive diagnosis eluded multiple vets and her prognosis was guarded. Lucky for her, Executive Director Kelly Lapham of Accredited Black Dawg Farm and Sanctuary was exactly who she needed. With many years of experience in veterinary critical care, her expertise allowed Omega to stay onsite where she was comfortable while still receiving top-notch treatment. Despite avoiding hospitalization fees, Omega’s medical bills topped $10k after needing weeks of care to save her life. But the efforts of all at Black Dawg did indeed save her life.

Watch Omega’s amazing story below, and if you wish, donate to her medical bills. TO DONATE: https://tinyurl.com/2m7bhjnw

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Wild Futures & the Monkey Sanctuary!

Wild Futures operates The Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the first wildlife sanctuary in Europe to earn GFAS Accreditation. This leader in primate advocacy, conservation, rescue, and sanctuary serves New & Old World monkeys caught up in the pet and entertainment industries. Unfortunately, the pet trade is flourishing in the UK which keeps this organization busy promoting educational campaigns, and consulting with legislators to pass a national ban. Executive Director, Rachel Hevesi’s work to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected monkeys has fully elevated the topic of the pet trade crisis in the UK.

For primates in need of a long-term home, The Monkey Sanctuary provides compassionate rehabilitative care in a beautiful setting. Sanctuary residents enjoy the comfort of companionship either in pairs or larger social groups within their spacious indoor and outdoor enclosures. In addition to outstanding animal care, The Monkey Sanctuary has at its foundation, a core tenet of environmental responsibility and the entire sanctuary and administrative building run on biomass!

Like so many others struggling under the grip of the Covid-19 crisis, The Monkey Sanctuary has been under lockdown and without income generated from tours for over a year.  Once restrictions lift, the sanctuary hopes to open with safety measures that will protect visitors, monkeys and staff. GFAS is proud to stand with Wild Futures! Please visit the Wild Futures website to learn more about their vital work: www.wildfutures.org

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Vervet Monkey Foundation

Photo courtesy of Laura Quinn

Accredited Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa has seen many young orphaned monkeys arrive over the years, and it continues to care for these vulnerable babies and integrate them into social groups when they are ready. The sanctuary’s philosophy is to keep human interaction to the minimum needed, and orphans are introduced to monkey “foster mums” who care for them as they become part of a new family. Some of these orphans have special needs: Leila, pictured here, arrived at the beginning of April and was discovered to be blind, possibly due to a head trauma. Leila is receiving the care she needs as she settles into sanctuary life, and has already met a new friend in “Disneyland,” as the nursery area for new arrivals is called.

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Vervet Monkey Foundation, like many sanctuaries, was heavily impacted by COVID when it had to suspend its international volunteer program. With borders opened again in South Africa, the sanctuary has volunteer positions available! To learn more about the volunteer program, and about Vervet Monkey Foundation’s work, visit their website at www.vervet.za.org.

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GFAS Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, GFAS has certified one new organization, and renewed three organizations.

New Certification

Save the Chimps, Florida


Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, Texas
Mountain Valley Horse Rescue, Colorado
Vervet Monkey Foundation, South Africa

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