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  4. About The Open Sanctuary Project

About The Open Sanctuary Project

The Open Sanctuary Project is a freely accessible, always growing digital guide for any resources or information you need in order to responsibly create and successfully manage an animal sanctuary or to provide the best possible care to animals in order to help them live long, healthy, happy lives free of exploitation.

All of our resources are researched and responsibly crafted with the intention of promoting compassionate care standards and practices for animals in need of help and sanctuary, while identifying and discouraging practices that are exploitative or harmful to the individual.

Looking For More Information About us?
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page here!

A Resource For Farmed Animal Sanctuaries

Although many of our resources have applicability to many different types of animal sanctuaries and rescues (and we encourage sanctuaries of all species mixes to make use of them!), our current primary focus is addressing the needs and unique challenges of farmed animal sanctuaries. As the farmed animal sanctuary community continues to spread across the world, with new sanctuaries opening each year, we believe there is a significant need for resources specifically developed to help farmed animal sanctuaries provide the best care possible for their residents and develop best practices in order to effectively carry out their mission in a sustainable manner.

Our Philosophy

We believe that there is no “one size fits all” model for animal sanctuaries; species mix, population size, climate, organizational structure, Philosophy of Care, and public outreach strategies are a small sample of the many variables that each animal sanctuary needs to consider as they grow and conduct their mission. As a result, what works well for one sanctuary may not be appropriate for another. We wish to honor the diversity of the animal sanctuary movement while providing the contextual tools and information necessary for every organization and their residents to thrive. Our resources often include perspectives from different organizations, which may highlight the practical, the ethical, and the philosophical considerations that go into any one particular course of action.

Information Sourcing

You can find our sourcing for various resources at the base of each resource. If it appears like a portion of information did not come from any of the sources listed below, this means that the credited author is drawing upon direct experience with the topic at hand as a sanctuary caregiver or with other background experience. If you have further questions about any particular part of a resource, you can always get in touch with us!

Non-Compassionate Sources?

Due to the prevalence of commercial animal agriculture and its impact on research, many of the sources we cite in our research do not share our views on compassionate care and treatment of animals. We try our best to source information on longterm care and treatment from organizations that align with our values, but this is not always possible. Read more about our sourcing here.

A Brief History Of The Open Sanctuary Project

The Open Sanctuary Project was originally envisioned by Shaleen and Shilpi Shah in 2015. Shaleen and Shilpi were seeking online information covering farmed animal sanctuary operation and resident care standards prior to founding Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, and were surprised to find reliable, compassionate information quite difficult to come across.

Three years later, The Open Sanctuary Project, Inc. was formally launched as a fully independent organization under the direction of Mckenzee Griffler, Executive Editor.

Since 2018, The Open Sanctuary Project has been researching sanctuary models and needs, conferring with sanctuary, animal advocacy, and nonprofit experts across the world, and developing resources to help animal sanctuaries have all the tools and information required to help their organizations thrive.

Our resources have been put into use and endorsed by animal sanctuaries, animal rescue organizations, microsanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation organizations, and other nonprofits worldwide.

Meet Our Team

Amber is smiling and patting a brown and white goat while wearing an Open Sanctuary shirt

Amber Barnes, MSc – Research Specialist

With a background as an Anti-Exploitation Animal Welfare Scientist, assessing welfare in a variety of species, Amber Barnes joined the Open Sanctuary Project in 2019. Since then, Amber has been using her previous experiences as care staff at animal sanctuaries and accreditation support for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, along with her academic research skills to develop resources aimed at providing sanctuaries with well-researched information on best care practices and sustainable operational practices. She lives with Bammers, arguably the cutest dog in all the land. See images of Bammers here!

Tara is smiling and standing between two goats

Tara Hess – Senior Advisor

With a background in farmed animal care, rescue, and shelter management, Tara joined the Open Sanctuary Project as Senior Advisor in 2019. She hopes to use her hands-on experience as a caregiver and her experience as a frequent presenter at Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Care Conference to help create resources that are accessible and reflect the many nuances of sanctuary work. She shares her home with cat Juju, house rooster Cantaloupe, and two humans.

Andie is smiling and cradling a raptor in a towel

Andie Springirth – Community Education Specialist

With a background in Humane Education, farmed animal care, and wildlife rehabilitation, Andie joined the Open Sanctuary Project as Community Education Specialist in 2021. She hopes to use her experience as an educator, caregiver, scholar, and activist to research and provide practical, actionable resources to help sanctuaries develop and improve their education and outreach strategies. She shares her home with cats Harry, Lloyd, Miss Tilli, Herman and Nell, alpacas Moose, Ceja, and Goldie, and four humans.

Julia is smiling in front of leaves and holds Fuego, a black and gold rooster

Julia Magnus – Nonprofit Specialist

With a background in environmental, animal and nonprofit governance law, Julia joined the Open Sanctuary Project as Nonprofit Specialist in 2021. She hopes to use her professional, rescue and microsanctuary operator experience to create resources that facilitate sanctuaries’ and rescuers’ navigation of governance and organizational issues. She shares her home with four parrots, a dog, two cats, a turtle, a human, and rescued and foster chickens, including roosters Galileo and Fuego.

Mckenzee smiling wearing an Open Sanctuary Project shirt

Mckenzee Griffler – Executive Director

With a background as a journalist and as an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Mckenzee joined The Open Sanctuary Project as the founding Editor in 2018. Since then, she has been visiting and working with members of the worldwide sanctuary community to research and publish resources that best represent the unique challenges of sustainable sanctuary operation and the diverse solutions to the issues sanctuary operators face each day. Mckenzee holds a certification in Animal Sanctuary Management from the University of Utah’s School of Professional Education.


Many of our resources could not have been made without the passion and dedicated work of folks in the sanctuary movement and those working to make the world a kinder place for animals. We also would like to thank our many volunteers and subject matter experts who have lent their time and perspectives. Specific acknowledgements for individual topics can be found at the end of each resource.

If you have a question or suggestion for additional content for The Open Sanctuary Project, please contact us.

Ambassador Resident Designs

We are so grateful for the incredible work that compassionate artist Yoshimi House did in bringing the many ambassador residents that you can see throughout our resources into living color!

Yoshimi House – Ambassador Resident Artist

“In the beginning, there was one little mom goat. She inspired me and I started drawing her and here I am. I will keep drawing farm animals until all farm animals will run freely on the green grass with their friends and families happily ever after.” – Yoshimi

Find more of her work on Instagram!

A Note On Sanctuary Endorsements

While The Open Sanctuary Project appreciates the countless individual sanctuaries and rescues around the world, as well as the unique and effective strategies they have developed and put into practice for management and compassionate animal care, please note that we do not endorse or provide accreditation to any organizations. We may link to a sanctuary’s website, share illustrative photos from a sanctuary with their permission, or reference sanctuaries’ practices and policies as examples of certain effective methods or as additional resources, but this should not be construed as an endorsement of every policy and practice of any one particular sanctuary.

A Secondary Note On Volunteering By The Open Sanctuary Project’s Staff
At The Open Sanctuary Project, we encourage our staff to continue working with animals and animal helpers in sanctuary and rescue environments in order to keep our resources relevant to the communities we serve, and to continue giving back to animals in our non-professional lives. When working with outside organizations, please note that our non-endorsement position still stands, and a staff member volunteering with an organization does not constitute The Open Sanctuary Project formal endorsement or approval of an organization’s practices or policies.

Products And Brands Referenced At The Open Sanctuary Project

There may be occasions where The Open Sanctuary Project references commercial products or brands within our resources, such as types of commercial food for animals, medications, tools, and other supplies. These references are solely for the convenience of our readership, and the products and brands can typically be further researched to find an equivalency that suits each sanctuary’s or caregiver’s individual needs. The Open Sanctuary Project does not endorse any product or brand, nor do we receive sponsorship from any product or brand. We work to ensure that all products listed are suitable for the situations listed, but please know that products often change their ingredient mix or construction, which may make them less effective or less suitable than when originally referenced in our resources. Finally, please know that it is not uncommon for a brand to carry products that may be suitable in a sanctuary environment in addition to products that are not suitable.

Support The Open Sanctuary Project

There are many ways that you can help The Open Sanctuary Project!

The Open Sanctuary Project, Inc is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowable by law.

The Open Sanctuary Project’s Form 990

In the spirit of transparency to our audience, you can access our most recent Form 990 here, for the 2019 year. Previously to this, we only filed Form 990-EZ. Future 990s will be listed here as they become available.

Updated on March 31, 2022

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Support Our Work
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