Skip links

Sanctuary vrs Microsanctuary


I was chatting with my dad and thought I should mention my latest rescued roommate.
The being is a Pearl Cichlid fish. My dad is not a vegan, but believes that my activism
and fighting for animal welfare is a really good thing. More correctly, I fight for animal
agriculture abolition. Then I brought up the idea of a microsanctuary and realized he may
not know the term or why microsanctuaries are so important to the animal rights
movement. So I explained.

A sanctuary is a place free from harm, both physical and mental. In this case, I’m talking
about places for non-human animals of all types. They exist all over the world. A few of
the more famous sanctuaries are the sanctuaries of the Farm Sanctuary network, Best
Friends Animal Sanctuary, Elephant Nature Park, and many many more. There may even
be a sanctuary in your town or less than a couple hours away. The sanctuary that I
volunteer at weekly is Luvin Arms (, a refuge for farm
animals that had rough lives before making this sanctuary home. Like any sanctuary
most of the animals are so grateful for their rescue and have a ton of love to give. For
me, the time I spend volunteering is so worth it. The sanctuary and every sanctuary I
have been to is an escape from the harsh reality of animal abuse. Sanctuaries are a place
of education. Please, invite your friends, both vegan and non-vegan, to visit a sanctuary
with you. Everyone who visits a sanctuary is forever changed and given a small flame to
do more for the animals, the earth, and the future. My dad, while not vegan, donates every
year for Christmas and my birthday to my favorite sanctuary.

Sanctuaries are very important. But due to time, money, and space requirements are not
for everyone. Because of these hurdles, microsanctuaries fill an important gap. These are smaller versions of what you think of as an animal sanctuary. They can have all the same species of animals
just in smaller number and smaller total area. Some of the smaller animals that are
typically bought at pet stores are frequent members of sanctuaries. A few of my activist
friends live in a house with 5 rats and some fish. We’ve even named our sanctuaries and
take time to educate friends about the non-humans we live with. The more people who see
and experience non-humans as roommates, the more they will grow compassion and
decrease their support of the animal agriculture industry. For example, my friend has
Three Little Pigs Microsanctuary,
pigs-microsanctuary- williamsburg-va/. He walks his pigs around town and I can’t count
the number of times he has posted on Facebook that someone interacted with the pig and
has said they will no longer eat pork. For information on starting your own, and anyone
can do it, is a great resource and even more amazing people to connect with. There are even some cool biographies of some of the many microsanctuaries that exist. I too have a microsanctuary, River of Compassion Microsanctuary. I started thinking of my home as a microsanctuary when I rescued a full setup for one large fish. That included the tank, stand, fish, hood, light, filter, decorations heater, food, etc. That sparked the name and, like water, life is also very
important. The fish I rescued is a Pearl Cichlid named Major Tom. Other rescued non-humans I live with included another tank with 8 fishes, 3 cats, and 1 dog.

One principle I think is most important for any sanctuary is to not “purchase” any of the
residents from for-profit sources. This includes farmers, livestock auctions, breeders,
stores, yard sales, etc. Adoption fees are okay as these directly support a non-profit that
is working to save animals and not contributing directly to more animals being born.
That being said, always be aware that there are shady “rescues” out there too. The goal is
to end the abusive system of animal agriculture. We should always strive to put our
sanctuaries and microsanctuaries out of business – when there are no more animals that
need rescuing from abuse and exploitation.

When you see an animal in distress or being exploited and you have the space to give
him/her a home, please speak up. Ask for the animal to be released to you free of charge
with the cage whenever possible. Sometimes you may not be able to rescue that being,
but if you don’t ask and try there will never be a possibility. Shout out to my friends for
recently spending hours at a yard sale and negotiating the release of two rats with a fancy
cage, and unsuccessfully trying to get two ducks from the same yard sale. What animals
do you want to rescue and what will your microsanctuary be named? How will your
rescued roommates help you to educate your family and friends?

Lief Youngs
Facebook Twitter Instagram