Animal Sanctuaries

Animal Sanctuaries

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) supports ethical and responsible animal sanctuaries. Ethical animal sanctuaries exist to provide a lifelong permanent safe haven for animals who were cruelly treated, abused, neglected, discarded, or otherwise unwanted or previously sent to slaughter or for some other purpose. Sanctuaries should be considered for animals such as exotics, farmed animals, and wildlife if the animals cannot be safely rehomed or have no other option for placement. Ethical animal sanctuaries share similar responsible best practices.

Sanctuaries rescue and care for animals. Proper sanctuaries provide the animals with a permanent habitat and do not breed, borrow, trade, or share animals with other entities. They do not exploit animals in their care.

Additionally, responsible sanctuaries house animals in proper species-specific habitats. The animals are not kept in cruel confinement conditions. Animals are not kept on concrete floors. They are housed with suitable companions. As such, proper sanctuaries consider the emotional requirements of animals to ensure that animals do not suffer or exhibit signs of stress. Animals have natural and complex social structures, identities, languages, relationships, herds, packs, and groups. Additionally, a sanctuary lessens emotional stress on animals by limiting the amount of public visitation time that the public may spend with the animals at the sanctuary. A sanctuary ensures that animals are not isolated, neglected, or cruelly kept or treated.

Animal sanctuaries provide animals with proper living spaces and physical roaming space and stimulation. The animals are given proper room to explore, walk, run, and perform other species-specific tasks. Animals are afforded species-specific structures, such as space, ponds, trees, or fields.

Responsible animal sanctuaries do not allow humans to engage in behaviors with the animals that place the animals or humans at risk. This means that interactions between animals should be kept to a minimum if in the best interest of the animals.

Ethical sanctuaries need to evaluate the quality of life of its animals on an ongoing basis. Animals should not be kept alive if the animal is in pain or if life for the sake of being alive is not in the best interest of the animal. If an animal is suffering and there is no way to alleviate the suffering, whether that suffering is physical, physiological, or otherwise, it is not appropriate or humane to keep the animal alive. As such, responsible sanctuaries may need to humanely euthanize a suffering animal. The animals should be free from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pain, injury, disease, fear, and distress. They should have freedom to express normal behavior.

The ARL believes that dogs and cats are not appropriate animals to be kept in sanctuary. Additionally, dogs should not be permitted on sanctuary premises if the animals in sanctuary, such as roaming chickens or goats, for example, would be disturbed or threatened by the presence of dogs.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston will:

  • Support the practice of ethical and responsible animal sanctuaries;
  • Encourage that people bring unwanted, saved, or rescued animals other than dogs and cats to an animal sanctuary if the animal cannot be rehomed or has no other option for placement;
  • Support and encourage that animals other than dogs and cats in need of a sanctuary be brought to a responsible sanctuary for a permanent lifelong home;
  • Encourage the public to only visit sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries or those with responsible characteristics;
  • Encourage measures supporting the proper oversight and regulation of animal sanctuaries;
  • Discourage the use of the word “sanctuary” for any entity or individual using the name improperly;
  • Discourage the use of keeping an animal alive in a sanctuary if the animal is suffering and there is no other reasonable way to alleviate the suffering;
  • Take federal, state, and local advocacy steps and measures to support or oppose laws or measures based upon the best interest of the animals; and
  • Take steps to encourage that the animals are afforded the “Five Freedoms” (freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress).

Click here to read more ARL Policy and Position Statements.