Glossary Of Common Terms
There are many terms and phrases that are often used in reference to or at animal-focused organizations that you may not have heard of, or heard of through the contextual lens of the animal sanctuary community. Here are some common terms:
The human production and use of animals in order to produce animal products, typically for profit.
Any legislation, law, or legal challenge related to nonhuman animals, especially concerning their rights or welfare.
Anything that originates from an animal’s body, including things like their eggs, feathers, flesh, honey, milk, and wool.
An organization that provides lifelong care to animals without advocating for their exploitation or the exploitation of their species. More information about defining “Animal Sanctuary” can be found here.
An organization that accepts animals in need in order to find a new home for them. Often, they are funded or operated by a government. Animal shelters tend to focus their efforts on companion animals, though some accept a more diverse mix of species. They do not tend to provide lifelong care to animals, instead focusing on finding new homes for them.
An organization that typically performs similar functions to an animal shelter, except they tend to be privately-run organizations. Specific animal rescues sometimes focus on a limited species or breed of animal.
The concept of providing nonhuman animals greater ethical and/or legal consideration to their basic interests, especially the avoidance of suffering and exploitation by humans.
Practices and policies that promote the well-being of nonhuman animals, specifically their health and comfort.
The ability for individuals to have access to free movement, appropriate food, and to be able to reasonably avoid situations they wish to avoid.
Backyard Chicken/ Urban Chicken
The raising of chickens primarily for the consumption of their eggs and/or flesh, typically in a non-agricultural environment.
The policies and protocols of an organization to limit the spread of illness and disease. More information about Biosecurity can be found here.
A physical and emotional reaction to prolonged, unmanaged workplace stress. More information about Burnout can be found here.
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, an operation as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture where over 1000 cows raised for their flesh, or 700 cows raised for their milk, or approximately 2500 pigs, or over 125,000 chickens raised for their flesh, or 82,000 “laying” chickens are confined for over 45 days a year.
Someone who provides daily care, specifically for animal residents at an animal sanctuary, shelter, or rescue. More information about Caregiving can be found here.
Cattle Chute/ Cattle Squeeze
An enclosure designed to keep cows in place, either for evaluation or for medical treatment.
An animal who spends regular time with humans in their home and life. Typically cats and dogs are considered typical companion animals, though many species of animals could also be companion animals.
A form of Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder that can affect anyone serving individuals who have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma. More information about Compassion Fatigue can be found here.
A formal or informal course of action planned for certain events, especially emergencies that a sanctuary might face. More information about Contingency Planning can be found here. Back to top
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, an academic degree awarded to veterinarians in many countries.
The act of ending someone’s life to spare them from suffering or a significantly reduced quality of life that cannot be managed. More information about Euthanasia can be found here.
The individual formally in charge of final decision making at an organization, who sometimes works closely with the organization’s Board of Directors. Sometimes a Founder is an Executive Director, especially early in a nonprofit’s growth stages. More information about Executive Directors can be found here.
Factory Farm / Intensive Animal Farming
An intensive agricultural operation that prioritizes large volume animal product production using strict production methods, typically away from the public eye.
A for-profit organization focused on the production and sale of plant and/or animal products.
Farm Animals/Farmed Animals
Domesticated animals that are used by humans either for their body or what comes from their body. Farmed animals have fewer regulations governing their welfare than other species in many countries.
Farm Sanctuary/ Farm Animal Sanctuary/ Farmed Animal Sanctuary
An animal sanctuary that primarily cares for animals that are farmed by humans. Farm Sanctuary either refers to Farm Sanctuary, the specific nonprofit, or could be used as a generic term.
An individual who trims and maintains hooves, especially those of horses or cows.
A confined area where animals are kept and fed (typically high protein diets) in order for them to gain weight as quickly as possible.
Someone who starts an organization. A Founder may or may not also be the Executive Director of an organization. More information about Founders can be found here.
The act of feeding an animal by hand, such as giving a carrot directly from the palm of one’s hand to a horse’s mouth.
The Humane Society Of The United States
A nonprofit organization based in the United States that promotes animal welfare. The Humane Society does not operate any animal shelters, but they do promote best practices for them. Local Humane Society shelters are unrelated to the national organization.
The ongoing care of an animal. Sometimes husbandry practices include references to breeding animals.
The act or policy of separating an animal from others when evaluating them for health issues, treating health issues, or while they’re recovering.
Another term for farmed animals; different regions of the world specify different species of farmed animals as “livestock”.
An organization (sometimes run by an individual) that cares for a small population of animals who have been exploited or as a species are commonly exploited by humans, especially farmed animals, animals used in lab testing, and other nontraditional companion animal species. More information about Microsanctuaries can be found here.
The stated goals and activities of an organization. An animal sanctuary’s mission is commonly focused on objectives such as animal rescue and public advocacy.
A non-governmental organization whose primary purpose is something other than selling goods or services.
An activity or campaign to share information with the public or a specific group. Typically used in reference to an organization’s efforts to share their mission.
Pay To Rescue
The act of paying money in order to acquire an animal to provide them sanctuary, typically from a farm or someone who wants to profit from the sale of the animal. Typically this term is not used in reference to acts like paying a shelter’s fees for adoption.
An animal who spends regular time with humans in their home and life for companionship or human pleasure. Typically a small subset of animal species are considered to be pets by the general public.
An organization or activity where humans interact with animals on the humans’ terms in exchange for monetary profit. More information about petting zoos can be found here.
A diet that abstains from all animal products, including milk and eggs. A plant-based diet is synonymous with “strict vegetarianism”, and is the dietary component of someone practicing veganism. Those following a plant-based diet may or may not also choose to avoid non-food animal products or avenues of animal exploitation.
The act of giving an animal a new home, typically because the previous guardian cannot or will not continue to provide adequate care.
The act of taking in an animal that is coming from a dangerous or unacceptable situation; or an animal that has come from this situation. More information about Rescue policies can be found here.
The ability to feel, perceive, or experience things as an individual, especially the ability to feel pleasure and pain.
A form of discrimination based on species membership; the belief that different species of animals deserve different ethical considerations regardless of whether they have similar needs or interests.
A formal or informal plan of what happens when a Founder, Executive Director, or other major member of an organization leaves the organization or is incapacitated. More information about succession plans can be found here.
The act of transferring guardianship of an animal to a person or organization, especially via legal contract. More information about surrender policies can be found here.
The Five Freedoms
An animal welfare assessment, originally developed for farms in the United Kingdom, now adopted by other organizations. The Five Freedoms are:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
- Freedom to express normal behavior, to a certain extent
- Freedom from fear and distress
The policy or space in which an animal is separately housed from others when evaluating or treating health issues, especially on intake or if they have a communicable disease. More information about quarantine can be found here.
The United States Department of Agriculture, a branch of the United States government that creates policies and regulations for farms and farmed animals, including those at farmed animal sanctuaries.
A movement that seeks to eliminate the exploitation of and cruelty to nonhuman animals.
“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” – The Vegan Society
Often, veganism is defined synonymously with a plant-based diet, although veganism includes abstaining from elements of animal exploitation in non-food instances when possible and practicable as well.
A diet that abstains from animal products (also known as “strict vegetarianism”), or a diet that abstains from animal products with the exception of animal milk and eggs (“ovo-lacto vegetarianism”, the more commonly understood definition). Those following a vegetarian diet may or may not also choose to avoid non-food animal products or avenues of animal exploitation.
The cutting back of a bird’s primary (flight) feathers in order to discourage or prevent flight.
The act of exposing information or an activity that is illegal, unethical, or otherwise in need of change within an organization. A whistleblower may choose to bring their concerns to someone within the organization or outside of the organization.
The act of medicating an animal to reduce or eliminate internal parasites, either prophylactically or in response to illness.
An organization where animals, either rescued, bought, borrowed, or bred, are kept, typically for the benefit of human visitor interest.
Zoonosis/ Zoonotic Disease
Any disease or illness that can be spread between nonhuman animals and humans.
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