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Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of animals in Northern Ireland. Founded in 1996, our team of volunteers is now responsible for the care of over 100 animals daily. We specialize predominantly in equine rescue and rehabilitation, but also care for dogs, cats, birds, small animals, farm animals, and more when required.

Our mission is to provide a safe haven for animals in need, and to promote education around animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. We have a dedicated volunteer network that helps us care for the animals. Responsible for over 100 animals daily we are passionate about helping animals in need. Visit our website to learn more about our mission and how you can help us make a difference.

We strive to provide and promote the care and protection of all animals by offering a place of safety to those in need, rehoming those with the potential for a fulfilling life outside the Sanctuary, and educating owners and future generations about the value of animal welfare, again with a focus on Equines.

Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary is a registered charity situated close to Antrim in Northern Ireland. The sanctuary has been a registered charity since 1996 and is primarily focused on the welfare of horses and ponies in Northern Ireland.

We provide volunteering opportunities, work experience, Animal Assisted Therapy, Education. 

Our Rescue and Rehabilitation work is dedicated to giving all animals a second chance. Whether old or young our volunteers are passionate about helping animals of all ages and backgrounds, including those with health and behavioural issues. We strive to give these animals a safe and comfortable environment to recover and live out their lives in peace. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing a safe and loving home for all animals in need whether they are with us for a short time before finding a home of their own or with us a lifetime; calling the sanctuary their permanent home.

Crosskennan Lane offers exciting volunteer opportunities for all ages and experience levels. Volunteers have the chance to learn about a variety of our resident animals, including horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. The educational opportunities can vary, but all volunteers will gain hands-on experience with the animals and learn about their care and wellbeing. All volunteers will have the chance to gain essential knowledge and referenced experience caring for animals. Opportunities vary and when and where possible are tailored to the needs of the volunteer.

Our Animal Assisted Therapeutic Activities provide hands-on learning experiences with our resident rescue animals. Through Equine Assisted Learning and other activities, we provide the opportunity for people to benefit from our rescue animals as they help them grow and develop. Our Animals Helping People program has been proven to help, with our rescue animals being integral in providing a safe and supportive environment that encourages growth and healing.

Registered Charity (Northern Ireland): NIC 104 028

A Message from Our Founder

Once upon a time there were two horses called Kim and Candy. Sadly that was where the fairytale ended. Their story is the story of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, or at least the beginnings of it. The failure of the animal welfare system in Northern Ireland to look after Kim and Candy prompted me to apply for charitable status in 1996. The subsequent years have been full of heartache, tears, anger and ultimately triumph. I promised myself that, whilst Kim and Candy had been failed by the welfare system and the ignorance of the rescue centre they were placed in, the horses, ponies and donkeys who came into the care of CLAS would never be denied the love and attention they so desperately deserved.

We, and I stress ‘we’ as I always envisaged CLAS as everyone’s sanctuary, now have 40 horses and ponies in foster homes across Northern Ireland and another 20 with us awaiting adoption. The last 14 years certainly have not been easy but have made us all the more determined to improve the situation in Northern Ireland.

Ignorance is a great stumbling block and time and time again we have found ourselves up against it. It is ignorance that allows an eight month old terrified and starved filly foal to be walled up in a dark, dirty shed for months. It is ignorance that allows another filly foal to be exhibited at a horse fair event, even though she was so weak with malnutrition and dehydration she could barely stand. And it is ignorance that allows a trotting horse to be driven to his death on a public road. Old habits die hard and attitudes are firmly entrenched but we are determined to fight on to make Northern Ireland a better place for all animals.

In the meantime, however, we will continue with our educational and cross community approach to animal welfare. Through our workshops, training days and Saturday Club (for children), we hope that the next generation of animal owners will be wiser and more informed than this one.

Our story isn’t all doom and gloom though. We have the support of many kind people, friends and volunteers who keep the sanctuary running. We also have many success stories. The filly foal walled up in misery and filth now has a super home and the little foal from the fair is also now a strapping lass in a home. We may have helped these horses but their triumphs are down to them. They are a testimony to the resilience of animals to overcome psychological and physical abuse. Their ability to forgive mankind for the terrible deeds inflicted upon them is surely one of the most amazing phenomena of life.

Our work has taught us many lessons, some of them humbling, some of them inspiring, all of them worth learning. Our motto is ‘Hope for the future : Help us trust Again’ and it will be for as long as it takes to make a difference in Northern Ireland. We realise that we cannot change the world but that doesn’t stop us trying.

Lyn Friel; Founder and Manager of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary

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Get In Contact



Write to us at:
Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary
26 Crosskennan Lane,
County Antrim
BT41 2QY

Ways You Can Help

About Us


To relieve the suffering and distress of animals in need of care and protection by reason of sickness, neglect or maltreatment, by establishing and maintaining a sanctuary for such animals.
To advance the education of the general public in the proper care of animals.

It is proposed that these objectives are achieved by providing:-

  • An assessment of the animals mental and physical condition involving veterinary advice

  • Physical and mental rehabilitation of the animals.

  • Identify suitable homes and match animals accordingly.

  • Provide educational opportunities for animal owners.


Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary (CLAS) is a registered charity situated close to Antrim in Northern Ireland. The sanctuary has been a registered charity since 1996.

HMRC Registered Charity No. XR16305

Northern Ireland Charity Commission No. 104028

  • How are you funded?
    Crosskennan is entirely funded by public donations. Our annual funding requirement is now approximately £200,000. We have no income from national or local authority and no national or parent charity to draw funds from. We rely solely on the goodwill of people such as yourselves to help us to take care of all our animals as well as grant giving bodies.
  • How can I donate things to the sanctuary?
    You can donate a wide variety of things to the sanctuary. If you have any items please contact the sanctuary via email - Please note that we are generally unable to collect donations. You can also donate via our Amazon Wishlist
  • What things can I donate to the sanctuary?
    You can donate a wide variety of things to the sanctuary, including; Animal Food: We can take advantage of most donated animal food. If for some reason we cannot use it ourselv es, we will ensure that other animals in need benefit from your generousity. Fresh fruit and vegetables are always welcome for our birds and equines. Bedding: We have a never-ending need for bedding! This can be blankets, towels, sheets and other similar materials that we can use to make beds. Items For Selling: The items we can sell include unwanted gifts, good quality bric-a-brac, household items, etc. If you have any items please contact the sanctuary via email - Please note that we are generally unable to collect donations.
  • I emailed you two days ago and you still haven't responded, why?"
    Unfortunately our office is only manned part time and not at weekends. We also are receiving a large number of emails everyday. We appreciate your patience when contacting us, we will do all we can to get back to you ASAP. If you have an urgent issue please call the sanctuary directly - 028 9446 5384. Again our phones are not manned 24/7 but we do recieve your messages and try and reply within a day or less.
  • I phoned today but no one answered; is there no one there?
    Unfortunately our office is only manned part time and not at weekends. We also are receiving a large number of calls everyday as well as the normal work of the sanctuary and the unplanned rescues. We appreciate your patience when contacting us, we will do all we can to get back to you ASAP. If you have an urgent issue please call the sanctuary directly and leave a message - 028 9446 5384. Again our phones are not manned 24/7 but we do recieve your messages and try and reply within a day or less. Please make sure to leave a contact name and number in a clear voice so we can call you back.
  • Can I Volunteer with the animals?
    You most certainly can! We take volunteers from 16 years and up. You can fill in a form on our website here -
  • COVID-19
    When the news broke of the COVID-19 restrictions Lyn Friel, the manager, was oblivious. Spending the majority of time caring for the animals and responding to people’s calls keeps her so busy that the outside world has a hard job breaking in. The outside world wasn’t going to be held at bay forever though and on Tuesday the twenty-fourth of March Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary issued a statement to the public that it was officially in lockdown. “We can’t take the risk that any of our dedicated staff and volunteers may fall ill and therefore be unable to care for the animals at the sanctuary; of which currently there are over one hundred and twenty.” At the time of closing, we were in the middle of volunteer training, fundraising and the building of a new sanctuary stable and shelter to house some of the sanctuary’s shetland population. All had to be put on hold; among some of our normal daily activities like rehoming and providing animal visits to the local community. Immediately we saw losses of income and other donations of food and bedding, that would normally be coming in as results of bag packs, coffee mornings and other activities. We had to cancel upcoming events and sadly ask some volunteers not to attend. The office is being manned from those who are staying at home where possible, while the yard staff and long term volunteers continue to provide care while following guidelines of social distancing and handwashing. Life must go on at the sanctuary, we do not have the option of closing the gates up and working from home. Without the staff and volunteers, the animals will suffer. Without people’s support, we cannot continue; and that is a terrifying thought that is plaguing us more and more as the days continue. The team has been working hard with various supporters doing whatever they can to help provide funds; from a print at a home colouring book to the launch of our Online Pet Show. Our social media volunteer has been helpfully translating all the animal’s daily fun ‘diary’ entries on our social media pages to keep the community engaged and informed, not just about the sanctuary but the current news too. On top of the fundraising activities, we are still working behind the gates on saving lives, with daily calls and emails regarding welfare, abandoned animals and animals needing to be rehomed at this time. We are doing our best to resolve as many cases as we can through intervention and advice where suited. These are strange times for all, but one thing is sure, we will do our utmost best to support every single animal we possibly can. We need help more than ever, in a time where sadly the world is difficult for everyone. There so many ways you can help us and you can learn more by visiting our Website - or emailing You can keep up to date with all our news on Instagram and Facebook too.
  • Hi, there's a a Horse in a field..."
    Many of our reports are from members of the public regarding a horse in a feild. For Welfare concerns we need to gather as much information as possible in the initial contact; it can take days to gather enough informaiton for us to make an informed assessment and reccomendation. For many the sooner we can act the better! If you are concerned about the welfare of an equine - contact your council's animal welfare officer. District councils are responsiible for enforcement of the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act 2011. Applying to "non farmed animals" - ie. domestic pets such as cats, dogs, horses, etc. Horses on the Road If equines are loose on the road contact the PSNI. If an animal is loose on the road and an owner is unknown the PSNI have the power under Article 10 Animals (NI) Order 1976 to impound it with a suitable person/body. Establish the Facts Is the horse; Underweight (can you see ribs or other bones?) Injured (is it limping or have visible wounds?) Safe (is it enclosed in a field or paddock where it cannot access dangerous areas ie. roads, railways etc.) Does it have: Shelter (trees, hedges or stable, etc?) Water (there may be a drinking trough or buckets somewhere) Enough food (not every equine needs the same amount - some horses need very little to no grass, others need extra food. Establish what food is available if you can) An Owner (if you don't know for sure look for signs of care, ie. a rug, or feed buckets etc.) If you are concerned Take Photos Take down address or as much detail as you can about the location Note the Date and also how long the animal has been there (if known). Contact your local District Council for Welfare Concerns - or PSNI for Horses loose on the road. All Animals need; a suitable environment a suitable diet to be housed with or apart from other animals as required to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns Crosskennan will do all we can in offering aid and advice but if you are concerned please conctact the Council or the the PSNI. If in doubt email and we will help signpost you to the relevant body.
  • What charitable Organisations support you?
    We are supported both financially and otherwise by many organisations across the UK. Some of these include; Petplan Petplan have offered us financial support over the years in the forms of grants for feed, bedding, vet costs, etc. We are very grateful for their ongoing support. Support Adoption For Pets Support Adoption For Pets support us through food donations as well as grant support, helping with projects like replacing our sanctuary vehicle and replacing the cat run in the most recent years while also providing financial aid during the lockdown period of 2020 helping cover feed and vet costs. One Voice For Animals UK Appeal In response to COVID-19 the One voice for Animals UK Appeal was launched to help connect small charities in need of help in this difficult time with support and the much needed donations to keep animals in the UK safe and well. They've supported us in publising our work as well as including us as recipients of charitable auctions and assisting with promotion etc. ​ Learn more by visiting
  • What are Friends of Crosskennan?
    These are businesses, organisations or individuals who have supported us either financially or on a voluntary basis, through donations of food, bedding, time, money, etc. Some of these include; Top Spec, Scribble Studio NI, Alan Workman Contracts, Doagh Farm Feeds, Creative Gardens, Fair Frames, Pets At Home, Fairhill Shopping Centre, The Hungry Vegan, Plus many more!
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