Meet Jessica Harris, our new
Program Director-Farmed Animals
Please join us in welcoming Jessica Harris, in her new GFAS staff position of Program Director-Farmed Animals. Jessica is likely a familiar face (and voice!) to many of our Accredited and Verified groups, as she previously performed volunteer work for GFAS and acted as a consultant for both the GFAS Equine and Farmed Animal programs. Jessica is a lifelong animal advocate, combining over 15 years of experience in the animal welfare and veterinary fields, along with particular experience and connection to the work of farmed animal sanctuaries. GFAS is delighted to have Jessica’s expertise on staff! You can read Jessica’s full bio on the GFAS website for all things “farmed animals”, she can be reached at
Big Cat Public Safety Act Reintroduced in the House!
It was just last month when the Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) passed by a vote of 272 to 114 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the measure didn’t receive a floor vote in the Senate, forcing lawmakers to start the process over in the new Congressional session. U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley, and Brian Fitzpatrick, wasted no time in reintroducing the Big Cat Public Safety Act this week in an effort to build support for the bill quickly.
The BCPSA prohibits private ownership and breeding of big cats. It would also restrict direct contact with big cats and put an end to cruel cub petting operations. When big cats are seized by authorities, discarded by roadside zoos, or surrendered by individuals, many GFAS wildlife sanctuaries step up to bear the responsibility and expense of caring for the animals for the remainder of their lives (see our story highlight about The Wildcat Sanctuary’s latest rescue!)
This could be the year the BCPSA finally passes, but your voices are needed to make it happen! Please reach out to your legislator in the U.S. House of Representatives and ask them to co-sponsor The Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263. Thank you!
Need help figuring out who represents you in Congress? Please visit this link: Find Your Representative | house.gov or email .
Veganuary: The “New Year’s Revolution”
Reduction in consumer demand for animal products has emerged as an important advocacy route for addressing the numbers of animals raised for food and thereby in need of sanctuary. Farmed animal sanctuaries have a unique opportunity to inspire this lifestyle change through the stories of their rescued animal ambassadors and by utilizing platforms like Veganuary to reach greater audiences and connect them back to the animals as individuals. We know that the power of sanctuary is indeed revolutionary.
Veganuary has emerged as an incredibly impactful outreach program. The UK-based group’s primary focus is a pledge program inspiring and supporting those with an interest in transitioning to a vegan lifestyle to try it for the month of January, connecting personal well-being with that of animals and the environment. It serves as a fantastic outreach tool for farm sanctuaries and as inspiration to the public to adopt a more conscientious lifestyle at a time of year when most people contemplate how they might change for the better.
However, as a nonprofit in their own right, they continue this mission through other means including corporate outreach, innovative marketing and media campaigns, and resources for new vegans on their media platforms. They have garnered celebrity endorsements from the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Emily Deschanel, Mayim Bialik, Alec Baldwin, and Paul McCartney, to name a few. Their program has also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Observer, Guardian, and Independent. They report over 1M participants in 192 countries since their inception in 2014. Their website hosts information on the reasons to try veganism, as well as recipes, meal plans, shopping tips and FAQ for new vegans. We hope they will inspire a brighter year for animals in 2021 – continuing to help animals is always part of our resolution.
To learn more about Veganuary, visit https://veganuary.com/en-us/
Helping You Help Animals: Accreditation Explained
Farmed animal sanctuaries do incredibly important work – nobody knows that better than the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). We are the only animal sanctuary accreditation program serving animals worldwide. GFAS Accreditation signals to the public, lawmakers, grantmakers, and donors that a sanctuary is providing exemplary animal care and is committed, capable, and worthy of support. Furthermore, we provide resources for sanctuaries to self-evaluate and improve over time along with a network of colleagues.
Join us for a presentation and Q&A session with Jess Harris, the GFAS Farmed Animal Program Director, to learn more about GFAS, walk through the steps of the Accreditation process, and get a sneak peek at a new program coming in 2021. Click here for information on how to join.
Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries, UK
We were moved to tears by Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries’ latest rescue, Rufus the Bull. Goodheart reports:
‘Once we heard the story of Rufus, we could not wait to welcome him to our sanctuary’ explained founder Dwynwen Jones. ‘While I wish we could offer a home to so many more farmed animals and ultimately save them from slaughter, having Rufus here as part of our rescued herd, will help us tell the story of farmed animals in the UK; and with a personality like his, help us reflect how these ‘food animals’ are all individual, sentient beings.’
Watch the story of Ashwin and Rufus, and how their friendship saved their lives.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Yanceyville, North Carolina is a historic former tobacco farm which is home to GFAS Accredited Blue Bloods Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement. Their tag line states their mission clearly, “From starting gate to starting over”. In recent years transition centers that prepare former racehorses for new careers, have multiplied across the country having a major impact on keeping Thoroughbred horses out of local auctions and the slaughter pipeline. Blue Bloods, like other transition centers, trains horses for many disciplines such as dressage, show jumping and trail riding, but this organization has an added advantage. In 2014, Blue Bloods partnered with Averett University hosting a course every fall semester that prepares equestrian studies students for retraining former racehorses. Students are carefully matched with horses and learn groundwork, the forward riding system, and the dressage training scale. This is a great “win-win” program for students and horses.
Regardless of what discipline the horse is taught, Blue Bloods ensures that trail riding is part of the retraining process. Exposing the horse to obstacles on a trail ride such a creeks, bridges and ditches is challenging for horses that have only been trained to race. Horses enjoy these new experiences and are better prepared to find new homes. For more information, please visit; About Us (bluebloodstb.org)
The Wildcat Sanctuary’s New Kid in Town!
GFAS Accredited, The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) was recently called upon to rescue two lions and two tigers from a private residence after their caretaker passed away. Always at the ready, Tammy Thies, founder of The Wildcat Sanctuary and her team drove hundreds of miles to rescue the big cats and bring them home to Minnesota. Tammy has rescued animals for 20 years and has seen it all, but upon arrival she was surprised to discover a tiny cub snuggled close to the female tiger, Winona. The tiger cub, Dash, had been born only a few hours earlier.
Winona had been forced to produce cubs for years, only to have them ripped away to be sold on the internet and used in “pay-to-play” cub petting opportunities for the public.
Normally, tigers reproduce every two years, but in captivity, when breeders remove cubs from the mother, she becomes fertile again and can produce cubs several times a year. Once the cubs are too old or too big for handling, they are often discarded, sold off, or caged for the rest of their lives.
Thanks to The Wildcat Sanctuary, this story has a happy ending. Winona will no longer be made to produce cubs for profit and Dash will not be sold as a prop to the highest bidder. Winona, Dash, and the other big cats are now safe at TWS and under the care of people entirely devoted to their best interests. They now enjoy a healthy diet, enrichment and excellent veterinary care as they spend their days in the peaceful and natural surroundings of a true sanctuary.
To learn more about Dash, as well as details and photos from the extraordinary rescue visit: Dash, our first ever newborn tiger cub, to grow up at The Wildcat Sanctuary To donate or learn more about The Wildcat Sanctuary visit: The Wildcat Sanctuary Non-Profit | Sandstone, MN