Any animal organization can call itself a sanctuary, and many do. But only a few of those groups go through the American Sanctuary Association’s rigorous certification process.
And now Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary in Western Washington, will no longer organize a popular gathering to celebrate wolf howls. It's one change the Tenino based-facility made to qualify for the select group of nationally-accredited animal sanctuaries.
It has been a home for wolves born in captivity since 1982, but that didn’t mean that its sanctuary application was easy. Diane Gallegos, the group’s executive director, points out that now Wolf Haven is one of only two accredited wolf sanctuaries in the country.
“One of the benefits of going through the process of becoming accredited was looking at everything that we do, every practice that we have, every activity that we have at Wolf Haven, and putting that next to what the definition of a sanctuary is," Gallegos says.
That process brought Wolf Haven to end one of its oldest traditions, a seasonal gathering to hear wolf cries. Its called a “howl in”
The events were popular, but the crowds were making the wolves nervous.
The American Sanctuary Association defines a sanctuary as existing solely for the welfare of its animals.
On the Web:
Wolf Haven International - official site
Sanctuary criteria - American Sanctuary Association