Our Story

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 the only educational welfare and rescue organisation for horses and ponies in Northern Ireland.

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

So, how did we get here?

Our story begins as it does for many charities, with a small but committed group of people desperate to make a difference. For Crosskennan, the story began with the two horses called Kim and Candy. The Animal Welfare system in Northern Ireland failed to look after these horses and it was from that that Lyn Friel was inspired to form a sanctuary in 1996 dedicated to saving horses from a life of fear and neglect.

From that begining and becoming a registered charity we have carred for more than 7000 animals across Northern Ireland and have provided many with new homes through our rehoming programme.

Although the Sanctuary is largely focused on equines we provide care and support for all animals, providing welfare, rescue, rehabitation, a sanctuary and where possible rehome animals. We also operate off site with our incredible team of foster homes for dogs, cats and equines. Our rescue team works tirelessly to save animals in need - even with the limitations of funding, time and often the power to intervene; the vast majority of our residents have been directly rescued from a situation of abuse or neglect and it is our mission to ensure that no animal has to live with that.

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 animls.

We utilize our educational and cross community programs to help change the approach to animal welfare in our country. 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 and we are honored to 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 and the little foal from the fair both overcame their beginings and recovered well to move into loving homes. We can take the credit for their recovery but ultimately 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. We’ve come a long way as a charity. And horse welfare has come a long way, we hope partly thanks to our efforts and those of our fellow welfare organisations. But our work doesn’t end here.

Sadly our rescue teams are still needed, with daily calls and emails regarding animals needing help, and that means we still need your support too. Together we can help horses in need.

Adopt a CLAS animal today

Donate and Help us rescue and care for animals in need.

Visit us at the sanctuary and meet our residents.

Shop and help support our work - all profits go direct to the care of the animals at the sanctuary.

Sponsor a CLAS animal and help us care for their daily needs.