A survey of US animal sanctuaries conducted in November 2023 showed that over 90% indicate a drop in giving amidst a dramatic surge in expenses, which threatens their financial sustainability, and some could shut even down.
The survey involved 45 sanctuaries of all sizes across the US, and it was conducted by one of the sanctuaries, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), a New York sanctuary in the Hudson Valley home of hundreds of animals.
The key survey findings revealed that one in three sanctuaries has experienced a 25% dip in donations (one in five has seen a drop of 50% or more); all but one sanctuary has seen a dramatic increase in the cost of essential supplies like hay and grain since the pandemic, with 37.5% saying costs have doubled; several of the sanctuaries surveyed are downsizing or shutting down completely, while nearly all others are cutting staff or programs or taking numerous measures to narrow the gap between their expenses and their income; 29% of participating sanctuaries are “very concerned” about their survival.
Kathy Stevens, Founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, said, “The movement to rescue farmed animals, and to invite humanity to include them in their circle of compassion, could unravel at any moment without increased support.”
Kelly Nix, Managing Director of Colorado’s Luvin’ Arms Sanctuary, said, “ We’ve been compelled to pause rescues, navigate tough staffing decisions, and even tap into reserves— a concerted effort to weather the challenges and safeguard the well-being of the beings under our care. And it’s not just a financial struggle; it’s a fight for compassion.”
Some of the factors influencing the challenge sanctuaries face are a change in funding strategy by the animal rights movement’s major donors and an explosive growth in new sanctuaries. Chris Vane, founder of Florida’s Little Bear Sanctuary, says that “unless giving matches growth, then we’re all in trouble.” Little Bear Sanctuary, home to 200 animals, including 135 pigs, has seen a 50% drop in donations from pre-pandemic levels. Catskill Animal Sanctuary, founded by Kathy Stevens in 2001 and home of eleven species of rescued farmed animals, has a $100,000 match donation on the table, and they say that all donations in any form, including donations of stock, will be matched up to that amount.