Sanctuaries are every animal lover’s dream. They’re places where animals that were once abused or neglected are treated with compassion and given the chance to live a happy and free life filled with love. Farm animals that were once confined to cages or filthy pens are given the chance to graze and roam freely. Wild animals that were once captive can enjoy the freedom of life outside of cages, and abused and neglected dogs and cats are spoiled with belly rubs, soft beds, and toys.

Whether it’s farm animals like cows and sheep, companion animals like dogs and cats, or wild birds and reptiles, sanctuaries provide animals with habitats and living spaces that provide the comfort and safety all animals deserve. Through rescue and advocacy work, they are all doing their part to educate people about animal welfare and change the way we view animals. They are places like no other, and those who visit are guaranteed to have a life-changing experience they’ll never forget.


1. The Cat House on the Kings

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

The Cat House on the Kings/Facebook

California’s largest cat sanctuary, The Cat House on the Kings, is a place where domestic cats roam freely in a cage-free environment where they’re able to snuggle on comfortable sofas or take naps outside under the shade of a tree. The sanctuary in the town of Parlier is home to over 700 cats and kittens, and it has a special area for FIV-positive cats. Tours are available by appointment, and you can apply to foster a kitten or adopt one of the sanctuary’s resident cats.

2. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

Best Friends Animal Society/Facebook

Nestled in Kanab, Utah’s breathtaking Angel Canyon, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the official headquarters for Best Friends Animal Society and home to 1,600 rescued animals ranging from horses to turtles. Visitors can either go on a sanctuary tour or enjoy one-on-one time by volunteering in the animal care areas. Some of the animals can even be taken on an overnight sleepover adventure after your volunteer shift. And if you happen to fall in love with a certain furry or feathered friend, you’ll be happy to know that most of the animals are available for adoption!


3. Farm Sanctuary

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

Farm Sanctuary/Facebook

Farm Sanctuary has locations in Upstate New York and Northern and Southern California. Together, they provide a home for about 900 farm animals including cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and goats. They have a mission to help rescue abused animals and teach compassion through education about vegan living and factory farming. Tours are offered at all locations and give you the opportunity to meet and bond with a variety of animals. Want to bring a special farm animal into your life? Many of the animals at Farm Sanctuary are also available for adoption!

4. The Wild Animal Sanctuary

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

The Wild Animal Sanctuary/Facebook

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado is a place of refuge where over 450 rescued animals including bears, big cats, wolves, camels, and porcupines freely roam on a sprawling 720-acre property. The sanctuary works to educate people about the captive wildlife crisis and advocates for the prevention of cruelty to animals. As part of their goal of maintaining a stress-free environment for the animals, visitors view habitats from an elevated walkway that keeps both humans and animals safe. Sanctuary tours, which can take a few hours to complete, are available daily, and they’re able to accommodate group tours if scheduled ahead of time.


5. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary/Facebook

Older animals and those with special needs are often abandoned, which is why Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet, Tennessee is working to give sweet seniors a comfortable place to live out their retirement years. They also work to promote senior pet adoption within the community and work to find loving foster and adoptive homes for homeless pets. They offer several volunteer opportunities ranging from animal care to property maintenance, or you can sign up for a tour of their facility.

6. Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

6 Sanctuaries Every Animal Lover Needs to Visit

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary/Facebook

Home to over 300 animals, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in New York provides a safe home for exploited and abused farm animals. The sanctuary’s Humane Education visits allow groups to visit the sanctuary and interact with the animals while learning about ways to create a more compassionate world for animals. They also have guided tours where you can visit and interact with the different animals, or you can sign up to volunteer for a day. There’s even an adoption program for those interested in giving farm animals a forever home.

Choosing a Sanctuary to Visit 

Visiting a sanctuary is an incredible experience and a great way to help teach children about compassion toward all living beings. There are animal sanctuaries stationed all over the world, but be cautious of pseudo-sanctuaries offering animal rides, photo-ops with cubs, or those that purposely breed the animals in their care. A true sanctuary doesn’t exploit animals or place them in situations that can cause stress.

To learn more about animal sanctuaries and how you can support them, check out these other articles from One Green Planet:

Lead image source: Woodstock Farm Sanctuary/Facebook