Though opening a shelter or sanctuary for creatures is a noble act, it is also a business. Understanding what it takes, what goes into creating a space like this, and how it can be sustained over time are all essential considerations. Here are a few tips for opening an animal sanctuary to help give you a realistic idea of things to cover before proceeding.
Consider: Is This Right for You?
Calling ourselves animal lovers versus being a true advocate are two very different things. You should not feel bad if you are concerned about whether or not you are ready for the responsibility of opening a sanctuary. It’s essential that, before you take the leap, you have a comprehensive understanding of what it will take, and you are dedicated to success because this will take a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice. The worst thing that could happen is that you put the wheels in motion, start acquiring animals in need, and then you want to get out or plans fall through. This has to be 100% right for you—no uncertainty.
Preparing a Business Plan
Though most animal rescues are nonprofits, you will still have to cover some expenses. Typically, animal sanctuaries receive funding from animal welfare advocacy groups as well as other organizations; however, there will be things that come up. Whether you find an already built space or are building one, you will have to do some planning and investing. It’s crucial that you account for possible expenses before beginning.
Preparing a Facility
Regardless of the type of animals you’ll take in, you’ll need to prepare the facility and acquire the proper equipment. Consider installing solid surface, pet-friendly flooring—in essence, something durable, scratch liquid-resistant, and easy to clean. Additionally, you’ll need cages, leashes, collars, food and water bowls, medical equipment, medications, and more.
Hiring Volunteers and Workers
With medical equipment and medication on site, you’ll need to employ animal physicians and staff. You may be able to get volunteers to help with facility maintenance, socializing with the animals, and feeding and cleaning, but you will need to hire workers as well. Budget for the expenses of keeping a staff and ensure you build your team to help you meet the animals’ needs and the facility’s responsibilities.
In addition to these tips for opening an animal sanctuary, you’ll want to build a network to help raise awareness and draw support from your community and beyond. You also want people to be able to find your animal haven when they find a creature in need. Establishing an online presence, making events, and putting pictures, stories, and information out whenever possible will help you create a strong foundation for your business.