Animal sanctuaries offer fulfilling options for both animals and caretakers

Over 2,500 years ago, King Devanampiya Tissa was hunting deer in Mihintale. The king was sighted by India’s emperor Ashoka’s son Arahath Mahinda. Mahinda was a Buddhist missionary monk, and he stopped the king in his  tracks and preached to him that all mammals should be treated with kindness and not be subjected to death by humans. He believed animals had the same rights and equity to live on the land that humans did. The king was deeply moved by the monk and his Buddhist beliefs.  In 247 BC King Devanampiya Tissa created the first animal sanctuary on the small island of Sri Lanka in Asia.

Today the world has thousands of animal sanctuaries to save various animal species. There are five main types: companion life sanctuaries are for domestic animals like cats, dogs and domestic pets. Wildlife sanctuaries help protect and also wild animals. Exotic animals sanctuaries are for endangered wild animals. Cetacean anima sanctuaries are for aquatic life. Farmed animal sanctuaries are for farm animals that are being surrendered or rescued from factory farming facilities. 

Often sanctuaries for endangered animals have vast financial support from governments, citizens and beneficiaries. Some organizations get more help than others, and one such type of sanctuary that has to come up with creative ways to get money to support their rescues are farm sanctuaries. Animals that are raised for consumption are not seen as pressing in need of compassion as say, an endangered panda bear or adorable near extinct creature.

Yet there are nearly 50 accredited farm sanctuaries across the United States reaching the hearts of animal consumers. A recent study conducted by Faunalytics on behalf of animal welfare organization Farm Sanctuary found that visitors to farm sanctuaries made profound changes of heart with their relationship to eating animals; people may go there and just think it’s like a petting zoo, but after spending time with the animals and having a close up in contact time with the animals, they usually think about if they should continue to consume animals, reduce or just plain stop. The experience of spending time with the rescued farm animals is profound.

Farm sanctuaries are very widespread across North America. There are many in Iowa that are very busy helping rescue and return health to factory farm animals that have been abandoned, have escaped or have been rejected because of birth abnormalities. The people who work on these sanctuaries are so busy with their mission to help and rescue animals that when writing this article, it was difficult to find an organization to answer any questions about the work and lifestyle that they lead. 

Shawn at the Iowa Farm Sanctuary in Oxford, Iowa, replied, “I would like to help you at this time, but we are so swamped with current rescues, but can help you with your article at a later date. Thank you for writing about this subject.” recently reported that the Iowa Farm Sanctuary is nursing animals back to health after rescuing hundreds from “deplorable” conditions in Washington County.   Iowa Farm Sanctuary is devoted to their mission. Clearly, running a sanctuary is not for the faint of heart.

If you care about animals and consider the idea of opening a sanctuary, there are many resources to set you on your way. On YouTube there is a channel for the sanctuary Hogs and Kisses, and it offers videos on how to open a sanctuary. There is a lot of information to be found on starting a sanctuary. Books and websites, of course. Also, organizations like Farm Sanctuary can help you get started with research information. Caring for animals is so much more important in life than anything to some, but it can also take a lot of time and effort. Animals can have very different needs depending on what they have been through. 

Essentially the first step is a person must be willing to put all their heart, energy and time into their sanctuary. The best idea of course is to start by volunteering at existing animal sanctuaries and seeing if this is a life of commitment one can handle for being the best support for the animals that reside in these hopeful and beautiful places so they can have a second chance at a life free of fear. What is more humane than that?

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