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How to Start an Animal Sanctuary

An animal shelter or sanctuary is a place where ownerless cats and dogs are brought in off the street. Millions of dogs and cats are abandoned by their owners every year and have to survive in the streets. Many times private citizens or animal control officers pick them up and bring them to animal sanctuaries, where they are housed, fed and cared for. If they're lucky, these animals may be adopted. Otherwise they'll be euthanized [source: HSUS]. Here's how to start an animal sanctuary.

  • Land Find a suitable parcel of land for your sanctuary.
  • Zoning Before buying the land, make sure that the zoning laws allow for the maintaining of an animal sanctuary on that property. Another thing to consider is how close you are to the neighbors.
  • Buildings If you will be using existing buildings on the property, you'll have to adapt them for an animal shelter. Bear in mind that you need separate facilities for dogs and cats, which are far away from each other. Otherwise you will have to build appropriate facilities.
  • Medical care You should have at least one veterinarian who you can work with and count on to be there for you should the need arise. Perhaps he or she will not charge you for services since you're providing humanitarian work. At the very least, you should make sure that your animals are all properly immunized and vaccinated. It's advisable that your sanctuary neuter and spay the animals in its care, since pet overpopulation is the main reason that you opened the shelter in the first place.
  • Food Make sure to feed the animals good quality food. Try to get as much food as possible donated, as food will be your largest ongoing expense.
  • Tax exempt status Obtain tax-exempt non-profit status for your organization. This will give your organization credibility and make it easier to raise funds, as those who make donations will get a tax deduction on their donations [source: Maloney]. //]]]]> ]]>