October 1, 2020 (Newberg, OR) – Wildwood Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization located on 98 acres in Newberg, is the first farm animal sanctuary in Oregon to earn Accredited status from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries – a process of rigorous planning and documentation that suddenly proved timely when last month’s Chehalem Mountain fire came uncomfortably close to the sanctuary.
Wildwood, which received IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2014, began pursuing accreditation nearly a year ago, gradually working through the rigorous qualification standards, which include documentation of financial procedures, ethical principles, security and safety, and emergency evacuation procedures. With the documentation and preparations completed, the sanctuary had its thorough half-day inspection on the day after Labor Day. A few days later, while crews fought to contain the Chehalem Mountain fire that blackened several hundred acres just north of the sanctuary, volunteers feared they might have to activate their newly-drafted emergency evacuation plans. The prospect of quickly relocating 100+ animals, including five steers and two cows, was daunting. “But we knew we could do it if we had to,” said board Vice-President Michelle Blake, “and we knew where we would take them. We’re just happy we didn’t get an evacuation order and we were able to stay put.”
The sanctuary’s founder and president, Shauna Sherick, has worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician at the nearby Newberg Animal Hospital for more than two decades. Her home and the sanctuary sit on 98 acres that her grandparents began farming in the 1930s. “I’ve known this property all my life,” she said. “I’ve never seen fire come that close to us, or that much thick smoke hang over our whole area. It was a tense time. I hardly slept for several days.” While the fire and smoke dangers loomed, Sherick kept animals inside their barns or corralled into fenced areas so they could be quickly loaded into trailers if the evacuation orders came.
Fortunately, those orders never came.
Other Willamette Valley sanctuaries were forced to evacuate animals. Wildwood offered temporary sanctuary to chickens evacuated from Silverton’s Green Acres Farm Sanctuary. That sanctuary was ultimately unharmed by the fire and its animals are now back on the property.
The unprecedented fire season tested area sanctuaries, which in recent years have quickly grown in number and popularity. “It sounds really appealing to start an animal sanctuary,” Sherick says. “And there are many rescued animals that deserve a permanent sanctuary setting where they can live and thrive. But it’s a huge responsibility.” For Sherick, seeking out and earning accreditation offers sound reassurance to her donors and volunteers that the sanctuary is financially stable, operationally sound, and delivering the highest standard of care.
With annual fire seasons becoming increasingly severe across the West, Wildwood’s leadership team has vowed to be fully prepared for what they call the “new normal.” To boost their preparedness and facilitate faster, smoother evacuations when needed, the sanctuary is now raising money to buy two additional stock trailers. “It will allow us to help other sanctuaries too. Everyone pulled together during this fire season, helping the sanctuaries that had to move animals in a hurry,” said Sherick. “Everybody did a great job this year. If this happens again, we’ll be even better prepared.”
“We are proud to announce the Accreditation of Wildwood Farm Sanctuary,” said Daryl Tropea, Ph.D. GFAS Program Director. “Shauna and her team ensure the highest level of humane and responsible care for each animal as an individual, regardless of their special needs. This beautiful farm provides a safe and healing environment for these animals to live out their lives. This sanctuary is also devoted to educating the public regarding the welfare issues affecting farmed animals and the need for greater empathy and compassion. This Is the mark of an organization that genuinely wants to make a difference in the lives of animals in their community.”
The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries, awarded Accredited status to Wildwood Farm Sanctuary as of September 25, 2020.
Accreditation signifies that Wildwood Farm Sanctuary meets GFAS’s rigorous and peer-reviewed farm animal care standards which are confirmed by a comprehensive site visit. Accreditation also signifies adherence to standards addressing the sustainability of the organization, ethical principles, finances, staffing, education outreach, security and safety and other operational aspects. The Accreditation status also provides a clear and trusted means for the public, donors, and grantors to recognize Wildwood Farm Sanctuary as an exceptional organization.
About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries
Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting these animal care facilities is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. While the board includes those in top leadership at The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society, all board members serve as individuals dedicated to animal sanctuaries.
About Wildwood Farm Sanctuary
Located on 98 acres in Newberg Oregon, Wildwood Farm Sanctuary is a haven for farm animals and wildlife alike. We provide lifelong refuge and rehabilitation for abused and abandoned farm animals while lovingly protecting the property’s native plants, wetlands, woodlands, and wild animals. Through our mission and the lives of our beloved residents in this special place, we aspire to inspire! Our greatest hope is to help open eyes and reshape the way humans view and treat farm animals by considering a compassionate and cruelty-free way of living.