Share On

Jump To

Jump To Section

Share On

Jump to
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Jump To

    Jump To Section

    The Open Sanctuary Project’s Care Program Evaluation Checklist

    a four column photo of a chicken, a goat, two pigs, and a cow.

    This comprehensive, 188-page resource is for sanctuaries looking to review their practices and policies with regards to their care for certain species in addition to general policies and safety.

    Note: The checklist does not provide legal, regulatory, or veterinary guidance, nor does it serve as a replacement for professional advice. As always, review our disclaimer!

    The major “all-species” sections of the checklist include:

    • Facilities, Living Spaces, And Storage
    • Vehicles, Equipment, Tools, And Supplies
    • Policies, Procedures, And Documentation
    • Care For All Species
    • Capacity For Responsible Care

    The species-specific sections include:

    • Cows
    • Pigs
    • Goats & Sheep
    • Equines
    • Chickens
    • Turkeys
    • Ducks & Geese
    • Llamas & Alpacas

    Get Your Copy Of The Care Program Evaluation Checklist

    A picture of the Care Program Evaluation Checklist with a banner that reads "click here to get your copy!"

    To check out some sample pages and get your organization’s copy of the Care Program Evaluation Checklist, click here!

    An Explanation Of The Three Suggested Donation Amounts

    You may be wondering what differences exist between the three donation tiers listed on the order page above- it’s a reasonable question! They are all for the exact same checklist! We wanted to offer the checklist at three suggested donation amounts to ensure that it is equitable for all organizations who wish to utilize the resource. We are relying upon the community to make donations that are fair for their organization.

    $35 Suggested Donation

    The suggested donation of $35 reflects the “break-even” cost of the checklist. This suggested donation is recommended especially for microsanctuaries, as many of the larger sanctuary-focused best practices and policies may not be fully applicable in a home environment. We also wanted to offer this option for any organization or individual who cannot afford to donate more than this amount. If your organization cannot manage this amount but still hopes to access the resource, please contact us.

    $75 Suggested Donation

    The suggested donation of $75 may be best for organizations just getting started, or sanctuaries whose resident populations are only represented by a few of the species the Care Program Evaluation Checklist covers. This suggested donation amount covers some of the costs incurred in the creation of this resource in addition to the cost of production of the checklist.

    $125 Suggested Donation

    The suggested donation of $125 is ideal for sanctuaries with residents of many of the species covered in the checklist, and individuals or organizations of any size wishing to generously support our work and enable us to continue our mission of creating innovative resources for the global sanctuary community. Thank you for considering to support us at this amount!

    To learn more about what went into the production of this resource, check out The Making Of The Care Program Evaluation Checklist, First Edition:

    The Making Of The Care Program Evaluation Checklist, First Edition

    A graphic stating the numbers associated with the creation of the Care Program Evaluation Checklist: 188 pages, 44872 words, 1202 checklist items, 70 sections, 3 staff authors, 7 peer reviewers, 12 species covered, 20 months

    The Open Sanctuary Project’s Care Program Evaluation Checklist is a resource whose creation spanned over a year and a half from initial brainstorming sessions to its release date. Clocking in at 188 pages and with over 1200 policies and best practices recommended, this checklist for farmed animal sanctuaries was not an endeavor taken on lightly!

    A History Of The Resource

    The Care Program Evaluation Checklist was originally envisioned by The Open Sanctuary Project’s Founder as a tool to help sanctuary boards and administrators thoroughly review the care practices of their organizations and identify areas that required attention and growth strategies. Taking that initial vision into consideration, the staff of The Open Sanctuary Project, Amber Barnes, Tara Hess, and Zee Griffler, had numerous discussions regarding what kind of resource would be most accessible and approachable to sanctuaries and caregivers, and perhaps most importantly, what would be most valuable for creating improved care outcomes for residents in sanctuary.

    The foundation of the document started with substantial review of any resource that had a similar aim or scope for other types of organizations. We were inspired by the ASPCA’s Shelter Care Checklist, in addition to some of the species-specific guides released by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, among other checklists created for other types of animal organizations.

    Initial Brainstorming And Expansion

    From there, we held discussions regarding what elements we would like to see reflected in our resource, as well as the tone the resource would ideally convey, what levels of policies and best practices might be measured, and how they could be measured in as consistent of a manner as possible. We ultimately decided upon the current format, including the standard levels of minimum, strongly recommended, excellent, and unacceptable, as a way of reflecting the diverse approaches that sanctuaries have taken to addressing care practices and policies, and the potential areas that could be improved with the resources available to most farmed animal sanctuaries or rescues.

    From this point of foundation, our staff worked independently to research and list as many policies and best practices as we could gather in every initially envisioned category, drawing upon our own professional experiences, from resources developed at The Open Sanctuary Project, and through research into other resources and organizations. This process was lengthy, with staff working on it over the course of two months, as the evaluation as we had envisioned had never been published before for farmed animal species in sanctuary.

    Staff Review Begins

    After we had all had a chance to expand the document as much as we could, we began a thorough multi-session review process, where through a series of conference calls, we worked our way through every single category of the resource as we had written them, determining additional gaps throughout the document that required more research, policies and practices that should be covered in more than one species category, identifying best practices that needed to be reworded for clarity and accuracy, removing best practices that we weren’t sure were universal enough to mention in the resource, and developing a list of policies and best practices that we believed would be best served by an appendix entry to help provide further context without making the entries too lengthy or complex. Together, we fully reviewed the entire resource four times after our initial group review, refining and expanding as we went, until we managed to conduct a full review with minimal updates to be found.

    From this stage, we took a further look at our flagged appendix entries, researching and writing appendix notes for each of them, and in some cases, determining that certain points could simply be rewritten rather than requiring additional context. At this point, we also determined that we could create a dynamic web page that hyperlinked to existing resources from The Open Sanctuary Project wherever such context would potentially be valuable to organizations. We also identified a number of topics that would be best served with an additional written resource from The Open Sanctuary Project and prioritized their creation, with at least six of those resources researched and published before the release of the evaluation checklist. When all appendix entries were created, we again reviewed these entries together at least twice, rewriting points for clarity and accuracy, and removing some that we felt were outside the scope of the resource.

    Soliciting Outside Review

    With the document and appendices in a polished state, we then identified peer review experts who have had long-term experience at one or more sanctuaries to review our work. Some peer reviewers were tasked with reviewing the entire resource from front to back, covering every species-specific section, whereas others were asked to review only the sections for the individual species that they had the most experience working with, in addition to the “all species” sections, 1 through 5. Thus, every section of the document was reviewed by at least two peer reviewers, with some sections receiving additional review beyond that. Ultimately, we approached 8 potential peer reviewers, and received feedback from 7 of them. The reviewers are listed on the second page of the evaluation in the spirit of transparency.

    For the First Edition, we made the decision to avoid venturing into specific detail that would have warranted veterinary review; we instead geared our policies and best practices towards areas that a sanctuary should work with their veterinarian to establish protocols that work for their specific organization and residents.

    Final Draft Polishes

    With the review complete, we held an additional series of staff meetings to discuss all feedback we received from the reviewers and integrate their notes into the document based on our staff’s discretion and expertise until we were in agreement on a completed First Edition draft.

    From there, we brainstormed and created the accompanying flexible Discussion Pages for staff members and sanctuary administrators to help guide the discussion of the evaluation process and identify areas for improvement with a timeline for re-evaluation. We believe this qualitative discussion format is an ideal method for facilitating nuanced discussion and focusing on specific steps towards solutions rather than judgment.

    Finally, we hired an outside design expert to help produce the final look and feel of the physical book, relying on their expertise to make the evaluation as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible for our audience. We determined that a coil-bound printed book would be the most appropriate format for containing and contextualizing all of the required detail we hoped to include in the resource, in a first for our organization.

    Plans For Future Editions

    Our plan moving forward is to revisit the Care Program Evaluation Checklist on a regular basis (with at least one year between editions) to ensure that all guidance within the resource matches our current recommendations and to address any feedback from the global sanctuary community. We also hope to expand into additional species in the future.

    An Explanation Behind The Suggested Donation Tiers

    The creation process of this resource was immense, with hundreds of collective hours of work leading into the completed product (and with thousands of combined hours of experience in caregiving and management leading into the discussion), in addition to the financial costs associated with the design and production of the physical book. We ultimately decided that the most equitable, but organizationally-sustainable way of releasing this resource was through the tiered suggested donation levels you see today, which was a decision that required many hours of deliberation in itself. Even if most organizations were to choose the highest tier donation option, we do not anticipate fully covering the costs associated with creating this resource, but merely hope to recoup a portion of our incurred expenses associated with its creation. If we did happen to cover all of our costs, all proceeds would go directly back into our nonprofit organization’s mission of creating more innovative resources for sanctuaries. The lowest tier donation represents the break-even point of the physical production and average shipping and handling cost of the 188-page book, which does not factor in any compensation for the time we put into the creation of the resource, but we wanted to ensure that organizations of any size who need to access this resource have an accessible way of doing so. If the lowest tier suggested donation is not feasible for your organization, please reach out to us so that we can find a solution for you to access this resource.


    As you can see, our resources require substantial time and effort to produce in a responsible manner. If the Care Program Evaluation Checklist (or any other resource we provide) is valuable to your organization or yourself as a caregiver, we hope that you might consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Open Sanctuary Project! We are 100% donor-funded, and we deeply appreciate your ongoing support!

    We hope that this report illustrates the extreme care and attention to detail that went into the creation of our Care Program Evaluation Checklist, and that your organization feels confident that it’s a resource you can trust! If you have any further questions about the Care Program Evaluation Checklist, please get in touch with us.

    Download The Care Program Evaluation Checklist Discussion Pages

    To help facilitate productive discussion and solutions as your care staff works through the Care Program Evaluation Checklist, we’ve created a free, downloadable PDF of printable pages to help guide your conversations and action items!

    This Isn’t The Full Checklist!
    Just so you know, this download link is merely for the accompanying discussion pages. The full checklist can be ordered here!

    Enter your organization’s details below to get a download link!

    Further Information For The Care Program Evaluation Checklist

    Certain policies and best practices recommended or discouraged in the Care Program Evaluation Checklist require a bit more context. The “Further Information” icon (⤷) indicates that there are resources available online at The Open Sanctuary Project to continue learning and gain more knowledge. Below are all referenced Further Information resources listed by their page in the Care Program Evaluation Checklist, First Edition:

    The List Always Grows!
    Although not referenced in the First Edition, and therefore not listed below, we are always updating and adding additional resources that may be of value for you or your care team to review! Keep up to date with all of our new resources by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on social media!

    Section 1: Facilities, Living Spaces, And Storage

    1-1 ⤷
    1-2 ⤷
    1-4 ⤷
    1-6 ⤷
    1-7 ⤷
    1-8 ⤷

    Section 2: Vehicles, Equipment, Tools, And Supplies

    2-3 ⤷

    Section 3: Policies, Procedures, And Documentation

    3-1 ⤷
    3-3 ⤷
    3-5 ⤷
    3-6 ⤷
    3-8 ⤷
    3-9 ⤷
    3-10 ⤷
    3-11 ⤷

    Section 4: Care For All Species

    4-1 ⤷
    4-2 ⤷
    4-4 ⤷
    4-6 ⤷
    4-7 ⤷
    4-10 ⤷
    4-11 ⤷
    4-12 ⤷
    4-15 ⤷
    4-16 ⤷
    4-18 ⤷

    Section 5: Capacity For Responsible Care

    5-1 ⤷
    5-2 ⤷

    Section 6: Care Program Evaluation For Cows

    6-1 ⤷

    Section 7: Care Program Evaluation For Pigs

    7-1 ⤷
    7-2 ⤷
    7-3 ⤷
    7-5 ⤷
    7-7 ⤷

    Section 8: Care Program Evaluation For Sheep And Goats

    8-1 ⤷
    8-2 ⤷
    8-3 ⤷

    Section 9: Care Program Evaluation For Equines


    Section 10: Care Program Evaluation For Chickens


    Section 11: Care Program Evaluation For Turkeys


    Section 12: Care Program Evaluation For Ducks And Geese


    Section 13: Care Program Evaluation For Llamas And Alpacas


    Article Tags

    About Author

    Get Updates In Your Inbox

    Join our mailing list to receive the latest resources from The Open Sanctuary Project!

    Continue Reading

    Skip to content