Most people want to have purpose or make a difference in this world. For me, it’s helping and rescuing animals in dire need through animal causes and charities. Good news for us animal lovers, there are many great animal causes! They educate the public and give a voice to the voiceless. How do you know the one you are supporting is reputable and the donations are being allocated properly? You could go to Charity Watch and search. What if you don’t see the cause you want to support? That’s fine since not all charities are going to show up on the list. For example, a smaller charity may be very reputable but fall under the radar. Here are my personal picks for the top five reputable animal charities (in no particular order). These are my picks because I have been involved to help bring attention to each of them in my community. I hope one will peak your interest!
- David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) – DSWT was founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E, in honour of the memory of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE. Today, DSWT is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. This organization embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown. You can foster an orphaned elephant and they will send you updates on his or her progress throughout the year. I have fostered one and really enjoy the updates on his progress! You, too, can foster an elephant by clicking here.
- The Gentle Barn – The Gentle Barn works with children from the inner-city, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster homes, and schools to teach them that even though we are all different on the outside, on the inside we are all the same and are deserving of the same rights, respects and freedom. Ellie Laks started the organization and with the help of Jay Weiner and lots of volunteers they take care of over one hundred and seventy rescued animals who came from abuse and neglect. The Gentle Barn not only helps animals, they help their community! You can learn more and donate here. You could also sponsor an animal like I did if you want to make a difference in a specific rescue animal’s life.
- Save Elephant Foundation – This amazing organization was started by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert in Thailand. Her love for elephants started at a very young age resulting in a passion that would shape the rest of her life, as well as the life of others. With a love and respect for her country’s national symbol, and the knowledge that they were becoming endangered, Lek began advocating for the rights and welfare of the Asian elephants in Thailand. In an industry steeped in tradition, advocating for positive change in the ways domestic and wild Asian elephants are treated has not been an easy battle. However, with hard work and determination her voice is now internationally recognized. In addition to several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards.In addition, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Lek to Washington, DC in 2010 to honor her as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation. But, the accolades do not end there. Lek was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her work in conservation in 2005 and the Ford Foundation’s “Hero of the Planet” in 2001. Her mission continues to affect others as her voice is heard throughout the world. Her story and voice have made an impact in the minds of all who give their lives to animal welfare and conservation. Lek’s mission to save the Asian elephants continues to expand. She has formed the Save Elephant Foundation and a dedicated team works tirelessly by her side to protect the Asian elephant.Today, Lek continues to be at the forefront of elephant (and other animal rights causes), raising international awareness and encouraging other countries in the region to follow her lead, as well as helping provide sustainable alternatives to local villages. At the same time, she maintains special relationships with the animals she rescues. Most days, she can be found at the sanctuary she founded,Elephant Nature Park, spending time with the rescued herd. Cick here or here to see how you can help Lek continue her mission to help the Asian elephants!
- Operation Paws for Homes (OPH) – OPH is a 501(c)(3) organization that is an all breed rescue and 100% donor funded. They receive no funding from federal, state, or county governments. As a result, they rely on donations and their adoption fees in order to save the dogs in need from high-kill shelters that join their rescue organization. Most of OPH’s dogs come from rural shelters in North and South Carolina. With limited resources, the shelters are forced to put down anywhere between 50% and 90% of the animals that come through the front door. OPH also partner with shelters located in Virginia and Maryland. Their organization provides pet adoption services to families located in Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Southern Pennsylvania and neighboring states. I am proud to volunteer for this amazing organization! Any donation received goes strictly towards saving and rescuing an animal in dire need. You can help support OPH here.
- Big Cat Rescue – Big Cat Rescue began in November 1992 and is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. The sanctuary is situated on 67 acres in the Citrus Park area of north Tampa, Florida. They are home to about 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts. This rescue is accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries, Certified by Independent Charities of America as a “Best in America Charity,” Member of the World Society for Protection of Animals, and Rated 4 Stars by Charity Navigator (their highest rating) and has one of the highest scores of any animal based charity. Their tireless work to help keep their rescue cats happy and in good health has definitely put them on top for charities! You can donate and get involved to help make a difference! If you have an Android or Apple device, consider downloading their app like I did to stay up to date on their cats!
These five charities are all very different, however, serve the same purpose. They help animals in need. In the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” With the help of these five charities, I would say we are headed in the right direction.