How do you start an animal sanctuary?

It's not easy, but 18 brave people came to Best Friends to find out at a recent How to Start a Sanctuary workshop. Meet just a few of the fascinating guests.

It was Best Friends’ first How to Start a Sanctuary workshop of 2005, and as usual, there was a crowd. Eighteen folks came from all over the country to learn how or even whether to start a sanctuary of their own.

Some, like Marylou Stachon, already have sanctuaries. Back in Oneco, Connecticut, she manages Second Chance Sanctuary, which houses about 50 cats and enjoys about 20 volunteers. She came to the workshop to learn more tricks of the trade, and hopes maybe even to open a new sanctuary closer to her home.

Others, like Fiona Buckley, are simply in the planning stages. An anesthesia resident at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Fiona discovered during medical school that she has two passions – helping humans and helping animals. At one point, she thought of switching from anesthesia to veterinary medicine. But after much thought, she realized her two passions did not conflict, but in fact complemented one another. Wanting to help, she decided, "is a whole mentality. You’re not on earth just to help yourself and your direct descendents."

Helping people by being an anesthesiologist will only make her more emotionally and financially able to help animals as well. After all, she said, "A good anesthesiologist isn’t just a good clinician. When people come in for surgery, they’re terrified. A big part of my role is to provide comfort."

When she finishes her residency, she’s going to provide comfort to animals as well by opening a sanctuary. She came to the workshop to learn the answers to questions like "How many people am I looking at employing full-time?" and "How much money do I need to start with?"

And finally, some like Luci Kadota from Reseda, California, are not yet interested in opening a sanctuary at all, but came simply to learn and to connect more with Best Friends. Luci has been helping Best Friends as part of the Los Angeles area brigade for years. She volunteers weekly at her local pound, helps clean rescue groups’ facilities and even did some brush clearing for Shambala, a sanctuary for retired Hollywood animals like elephants, lions and cheetahs! She does it all as part of the Best Friends Brigade, and wanted very much to come back and connect to the place sending her on all these assignments!

A big thanks to all the participants, in whatever stage of planning they are, for making the first How to Start a Sanctuary workshop of the year a big success. Next one is in June!

See 2005 calendar of Best Friends workshops.
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