About Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centers

By: Kathryn Sussman
Animal sanctuaries are places of refuge for unwanted, neglected, abused, injured or abandoned animals. There are several kinds of sanctuaries housing almost every species of animal. Companion animal sanctuaries house dogs and cats. Farmed animal sanctuaries provide refuge to cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys. Equine sanctuaries provide safe haven to horses, donkeys and mules. Wild animal sanctuaries provide a home to creatures ranging from hedgehogs to elephants.

Rescue centres differ because most keep ill, injured or orphaned animals on a temporary basis and then release them back into the wild.

Sanctuaries and rescue centers can be large or small, employ professional staff or be run by volunteers.

True animal sanctuaries adhere to the following principles:

  1. The physical, psychological and social needs of the animals are the highest priority. In zoos and commercial facilities, that isn’t always the case. Visitor needs often come first. That’s why you see so many fancy exhibits that look good to visitors, but aren’t very good for the animals.
  2. Are not involved in the commercial trade of animals, so they don’t buy, sell or trade animals, or their offspring. The only exception is when a sanctuary determines that the best way to save an individual animal from abuse or death is by buying that animal. If the sanctuary can take steps to ensure that the animal isn’t just replaced with another, then that’s even better.
  3. Do not breed animals. There are already too many animals needing homes and care, so breeding doesn’t make sense. It just adds to the problem.
  4. Play an active role in trying to help solve the problems that created the need for sanctuaries in the first place. Whenever possible, they should be advocates for animals who encourage and support better animal protection laws and enforcement of existing laws.
  5. Educate the public. Sharing stories of rescued animals raises awareness that can change perspectives and attitudes.
  6. Do not allow members of the public unrestricted access to view animals, like zoos do. In fact, most wild animal sanctuaries don’t let people in to view the animals at all, except on a controlled basis. That’s because many sanctuary animals have had difficult lives and might be fearful of humans and become stressed when people are too close, even if they are just being looked at.
  7. Know their limits. They don’t continue to accept animals if it will jeopardize the health and welfare of the animals they already have.

Check out the website of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries for a list of accredited sanctuaries around the world.

A Partial List of Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centers in Canada

  • Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Rosseau, ON  www.aspenvalley.ca
  • Bear With Us Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre for Bears, Sprucedale, ON
  • Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary, Kemptville, ON  www.bigskyranch.ca
  • Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, ON   http://cedarrow.org
  • Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge, Ottawa, ON  http://ccwr.ca
  • Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary – King City, ON  www.dogtales.ca
  • Fauna Foundation, Chambly, Quebec  www.faunafoundation.org
  • Frog Hollow Farm Sanctuary, Princeton, ON  www.froghollowfarmsanctuary.com
  • Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, Campbellville, ON  www.happilyeveresther.ca
  • Hearts on Noses, Mission, BC  www.heartsonnoses.com
  • Haven of the Heart Animal Sanctuary, Palgrave, ON  https://havenoftheheart.wordpress.com
  • Home Free Farm, Harrowsmith, ON  http://homefreefarm.webs.com/our-animals
  • Ladybird Animal Sanctuary, Hamilton, ON  www.ladybirdanimalsanctuary.com
  • North Mountain Animal Sanctuary, Burlington, NS  http://nmas.ca/about-nmas/
  • Painted Rock Animal Farm and Sanctuary, Tottenham, ON  www.paintedrockrescuefarm.com
  • Primrose Donkey Sanctuary, Roseneath ON  www.primrosedonkeysanctuary.com
  • Ralphy’s Retreat, Norfolk County, ON  www.ralphysretreat.ca
  • Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals, Vancouver Island, BC  http://rastarescue.org
  • Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, North Gower, ON  www.rideauwildlife.org
  • RR Refuge, Alexandria, ON  www.refugerr.org
  • Ruby Ranch Pig Sanctuary, Arthur, ON  http://rubyranch.ca
  • The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Guelph, ON  www.thedonkeysanctuary.ca
  • Wild Bird Care Centre, Nepean, ON  www.wildbirdcarecentre.org
  • Wishing Well Sanctuary, Bradford, ON  www.wishingwellsanctuary.org