One reason I support Lions, Tigers & Bears is that it is an accredited animal sanctuary. LTB is one of the few sanctuaries in the country accredited by two organizations – the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and American Sanctuary Association (ASA).
Accreditation means that a sanctuary meets specific standards for humane care of the animals, as well as operation and governance. This is important for several reasons.
First, for animal lovers looking to donate to an organization that actually helps animals, accreditation shows the facility is providing a good home for the animals with appropriate care. Food, water and veterinary care are readily available along with appropriate housing and enrichment. Here, for example, are the standards of care for Lions, Tigers & Bears.
Accreditation also tells donors that the sanctuary is sound in operations, including finances and government. The standards include best practices for things like composition of the board of directors and fundraising practices. Even if you visit a sanctuary in person, you won’t see how fundraising is done or how governing decisions are made. Accreditation tells you everything is on the up and up.
All this is not to say that any sanctuary lacking accreditation is a bad place. I have visited several unaccredited sanctuaries that are very good organizations. But accreditation is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. It provides assurance that if you donate to an accredited sanctuary, you are supporting a good place. This is one reason grant-making agencies are increasingly requiring accreditation before funding an animal sanctuary.
The problem is that any animal organization can hang up a sign calling itself a sanctuary, but that doesn’t mean it is one. On the most basic level, true sanctuaries to not breed, buy or sell animals, and they provide a lifetime home for the animals they bring into their care.
Some organizations calling themselves a sanctuary breed animals to sell as private pets or use for profit in petting displays or photo booths. Others sell animals to canned hunts or euthanize resident animals for space so they can charge fees to take new animals from private owners who no longer want them.
In other cases, a facility might provide excellent care to its animals, but fail due to financial impropriety or mismanagement. Perhaps they have questionable methods of fundraising, or they have trouble fundraising at all. This is equally bad for the animals because eventually the facility falls apart.
Recent years have seen two high-profile cases of large sanctuaries folding and other facilities having to absorb all their animals. In 2010, amid charges of financial and governing mismanagement, Wild Animal Orphanage in Texas closed its doors. GFAS and many others worked hard to find new homes for the 400 animals of various species. Most true sanctuaries across the country have at least a few animals from this failed facility.
The other more tragic situation was Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue, where 1,200 animals were found, mostly llamas and horses, and many close to death after being neglected for years. The facility had been relying largely on the generosity of a single donor; when that donor pulled the plug, it had nothing to fall back on. The owners were aging and sick, unable to care for all the animals they had taken in. Some animals were able to be rescued, but many had to be euthanized.
Accreditation helps prevent cases like this by requiring facilities to meet standards for government, finance, acquisition, outreach, staffing, physical facilities, security, and animal care. Accrediting groups such as GFAS also work with sanctuaries that aren’t quite there to improve their practices.
One advantage of working with a sanctuary accreditation group is the facility doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel. An accrediting organization works with lots of other good sanctuaries that are already in operation, and can draw from their experience. For example, on its website GFAS has several sample documents such as a sample lease, financial statements, and employee handbook.
GFAS also offers a series of webinars to help sanctuary personnel, on topics like grant writing, applying for accreditation, setting guidelines on intake and euthanasia of sick animals, and using technology.
Day 28 Swim Report
Number of laps: 45
Time: 75 minutes
Pace: Good pace
Day 29 Swim Report
Number of laps: 42
Time: 65 minutes
Pace: Good pace
Day 30 Swim Report
Number of laps: 40
Time: 65 minutes
Pace: Good pace
Ended up taking Day 27 off due to a very hectic work schedule. A co-worker has left, and I get to fill in until we hire a new person in a few months. I really needed the swim coming back — which was good because I had 117 laps to cover in the last three days. I had planned to split it an even 40 laps a day, but ended up doing a few more the first two days. So I made my swim goal!!
I hope I can keep close to this pace going into the future because I have felt so much better this month in general. Regular exercise is very time consuming, but it helps all other aspects of your life. And I hope my swims have inspired some of you to get started too.