The Visionary of Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary


Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary, Inc. was founded by Tom Ziebell on April 5, 2017; previously Tom operated Arizona Dog Sanctuary.  A sanctuary that offered assistance to dogs in need of finding a home through foster and volunteer networks, often times connecting the resources.

Founder Tom Ziebell started rescuing animals at a very young age.  Over the years the founder was in the corporate world running some of the top 1% sales organizations for top US Corporations.   Tom has been recognized on numerous occasions for his teams’ successes.   

In early 2015, Tom was diagnosed with some tumors in his colon, after having the surgery, Tom was medically unable to return to work and began his unplanned retirement.   During this time it was a wake-up call for Tom to complete his lifelong vision of creating a safe place for unwanted animals.  With the help of numerous volunteers, donors and sponsors, Tom is able to begin his vision, creating a permanent home for unwanted dogs and horses, giving them a home for life.  Always being an advocate for animals over the years, Tom founded Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary. Its creation was in response for the overwhelming need of a sanctuary to offer a permanent home for the increasing amount of slaughtered bound horses and euthanasia bound dogs.

It was evident by the statistics that a larger scale sanctuary was in need of being created to help the animals.   The sanctuary is being planned and developed on several hundred acres in Northern Arizona, approximately thirty minutes outside of a small town called Snowflake Arizona in Navajo County.

During the initial real estate locating phase the perfect area was discovered.   The property located was a former horse facility that currently has some usable buildings, prime pasture land, and several water sources and stock tanks already located within the property.

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary, Inc. has negotiated to acquire the needed acreage.  The purpose of this acquisition will be to provide a safe permanent home to hundreds of dogs and horses.   In addition, several other unwanted farm animals can find refuge.  Future growth is also possible with additional acquisitions through neighboring properties.

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 registered Non-Profit Organization.  All donations to the organization are tax deductible.  Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary operates completely on donations and receives no government subsidies. 

The Sanctuary is being divided into three sections within the property and will be developed over various phases within each section.

Section One, Horse Sanctuary:

·        Dedicated acreage within the Sanctuary

·        Intake holding area for new arrivals, protecting the herd.

·        Older and medical needs section

·        1st phase will permanently save and give a home to 50 horses.

Section Two, Dog Sanctuary:

·        Dedicated dog compounds within the Sanctuary.

·        Dual dog safe zones and socialization and training areas.

·        Medical ward for elderly and dogs in need of medical services

·        Play area that includes course, activity and swimming areas.

·        The sanctuary will have 30 compounds saving hundreds of dogs!

·        Future growth is potential with future acquisitions.

·        1st phase will save 24 dogs for certain euthanasia.


Section Two, Small Animal Sanctuary:

·        Dedicated acreage within the Sanctuary

·        Separate goat, pig and game areas including activity and socializing areas

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary has created a plan for foster children to come up to the Sanctuary to socialize with the animals.  We believe this educational process will be a win-win situation for the animals and the 14,000+ children in the foster care system, improving the lives of the animals and children in need.

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary, Inc. overall budget for the project will be $1,500.000 Donations will need to be raised in phases, based on the current project within the proposal.   The first phase of the proposal is completing the land acquisition and initial horse intake center.   The budget is $525,000 to complete this phase of the project.   


There are two major needs and problems that need to be solved.   Dogs and Horses are in an urgent need for someplace to call home.  Long term space is very limited.  Current shelters need available space for newer arrivals.   Dogs and Horses are uniquely different animals, but are facing the same current needs and problems.

Horse Needs/Problems

·        Hundreds of horses need a place to call home during their retirement years.

·        Currently unwanted horses are being sold at kill pens and sent to slaughter.

·        Locating and finding a permanent home is limited.

·        Currently older, untrained and un-rideable horses have difficulty finding a home.

·        Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary has allocated acres to give these horses a permanent home.

Dog Needs/Problems

·        Currently Maricopa County in Arizona has a higher per capita euthanasia rate compared to larger metropolitan cities in the United States.

·        Several dogs waiting for adoption are older, have minor medical conditions, have behavior issues and are unwanted breeds.   Space is needed for newer arrivals and cannot always be utilized for long term.  Maternal dogs have a greater risk of euthanasia due to the care needed for the mother and future litter.

·        Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary has allocated acres to give these dogs a permanent home. 

·        Each compound is designed to permanently house 24 dogs in 12 pods.  Each pod will have climate designed dog housing units. 

·        Each compound will have trees to provide adequate shade.  

·        Each play zone will have activity, socialization and swimming areas.

·        Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary can save hundreds of dogs.

Small Animals needs and problems are similar to the dogs and horses and Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary has dedicated areas within the sanctuary for unwanted goats, pigs, and fowl. 

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary vision has begun!  Property acquisition has begun; plans are being made to relocate necessary animals to the sanctuary.  Volunteers are in place to care for the animals upon arrival and begin the rehabilitation and rehoming processes.   Our goal is to help some of the animals rehabilitate their behavior issues, so they could be placed for adoption.   Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary also has in place some top veterinarians to provide the proper medical guidance needed for the animals.  We’re planning to work with existing rescues, allowing the rescues to place adoptable dogs into loving homes while Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary offers the unwanted, non-adopted, or non-adoptable a safe home for life.  Our long term vision would to recreate this model in high risk areas.

We hope that you follow our journey, join our email list, volunteer, donate, and sponsor.  Our goal is to make a major impact saving hundreds where needed.

All Rescues are not created equal

We always get the same question, what's the difference between the Sanctuary and other rescues.  First it's important to understand the differences between rescues, shelters and sanctuaries.

Animal Control Shelters:   These are the government run facilities, also sometimes called Rabies control facilities.  These are completely funded by the government and fees collected. They've been nicknamed over years as the "Pound", "Doggie Jail" etc. These facilities hold all bite quarantines, they pick up loose strays and will accept any owner surrenders.  They are usually low cost shelters for adoption, they require the dogs to be neutered or spayed before going home. They have improved their adoption and educational roles over the years, however they are usually still a kill facility, so they have higher euthanasia rates compared to other shelters.   They have primarily mixed breed dogs available, usually overpopulated breeds like Pit Bulls.  Since several of the dogs were strays, history of the dog's behavior or medical condition are usually limited.

Animal Shelters:  These are usually Non-profit organizations that solely run on volunteers and contributions.  These facilities tend to be more no kill shelters versus a kill shelter, however each shelter should be individually researched.  Most people tend to classify these facilities as Humane Society, yet not all facilities are affiliated with the Humane Society.  These facilities usually accept selected owner surrenders and occasionally have selected strays.  As a result their euthanasia rates tend to be lower.  These shelters usually also have pop up locations to drive adoptions.   Facilities tend to offer better accommodations for the dogs. Their adoption prices tend to be higher as they usually offer more with the adoptions including some food. Dogs are required to go home neutered or spayed.  Occasionally dogs are micro-chipped.   

Rescues:  These are usually Non-profit organizations that solely run on volunteers and contributions.  They usually don't have specific shelter locations, but rather utilize pop up locations, in home visits, and dog events for example for their adoptions.  Their success rates tend to be the highest, several contribute it to in home visits, all dogs are usually micro chipped, and follow up communication continues with the adopted families.   The rescues can be specific breed focused, size focused, or variety of other types.  They usually monitor state run facilities to monitor their rescues breeds.  As an example the Great Dane Rescue group monitors the facilities to ensure no Great Dane ends up in the state facility or other shelters. They primarily utilize fosters as their network to house the dogs.  All dogs are required to be spayed or neutered.

Animal Groups: These are usually Non-profit organizations that offer support to other animal groups.  Several animal groups have no animal facilities or dogs in foster within their group.   Several animal groups will offer grants, donations, contributions to other shelters to conduct spay/neuter drives, vaccination drives and adoption drives for their specific shelter or rescue. 

Dog Sanctuaries:  Sanctuaries are usually considered the last chance for an dog.  They offer a permanent home for the dog.  Over the years they've been called "Farms".  When someone could no longer care for a dog, people use to say they sent the dog off to a Farm, most likely they were referring to a dog sanctuary.  They usually do not place the dogs up for adoption as a majority of the dogs come from rescues or shelters and they could not find an adequate home previously.   Sanctuaries usually accept dogs that are completely adoptable, however for whatever reason they haven't been adopted or they are consistently in the rescue return loop.  Dogs at Sanctuaries are usually breeds that has been over bred like a pit bull, older dogs, dogs with various behavior issues and dogs with minor medical conditions.  Sanctuaries are usually the dogs LAST CHANCE to live out their life.  Dogs in Sanctuaries are normally cage free, socialized with other dogs and people daily, and become re-energized with their new buddies and surroundings.  Dogs tend to utilize their pack mentality in Sanctuaries, usually improving the dogs health and reducing the dogs behavior issues.  Sanctuaries can be breed specific or open to all types of dogs.    

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 Non Profit Sanctuary, our dogs are not up for adoption, as they've already been in that cycle sometimes for months and years.  We are a no-kill facility and our dogs are not in cages or kennels, but have large pods to live in.  All dogs live in pod with a mate, however all dogs are neutered and spayed.. Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary socializes the dogs with other dogs to re-energize the dogs and return them to their pack traits.  Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary operates with a volunteer staff and solely on donations from our sponsors and donors.


Sample Housing

Dog Dens constructed from straw, plywood, concrete and stucco

Each DEN houses 2 dogs, each DEN is located in a POD that is 30 feet by 30 feet providing ample housing for 2 dogs.

All Dogs are socialized within the Sanctuary

Each compound has 34 to 42 dogs within each activity zone area.  Activity zones are connected to the PODS offering an area of 129 feet by 129 feet for Dogs to redevelop their pack mentality which helps reducing their behavior issues.  Each activity zone has a swimming pond and exercise areas.

Sanctuary for Slaughter Bound Horses

Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary is in the process of acquiring 300 acres of land for horses.  We will provide them with a permanent home and care for life, saving them from slaughter.   These majestic animals deserve to live out their retirement years.   Just because they are old, untrained, have a minor medical condition, can no longer be rode or other reasons, they deserve to be safe and live out their life.

With Your Help We Can Save Them from Slaughter

With Your Help We Can Save Them from Slaughter

“Their nightmare journey begins when they enter the slaughter pipeline at the auction house. My ultimate goal would be to keep them all out of those ‘kill-buyer’ trailers,” said Neta Rhyne, 65, of nearby Toyahvale."

"Nearly a decade after the last three horse slaughterhouses closed in the United States — including two in Texas — the trafficking of American horses for slaughter continues and the controversy burns as fiercely as ever."

Foreign slaughter is the only option, as slaughter is illegal in the United States.

“Public opinion is on the side of the horses,” said Holly Gann of the Humane Society of the United States. “National polling in 2012 showed that 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption.”

"Many of the horses acquired at auctions and shipped by “kill buyers” are young and in good health". Horse rescue groups already limited and overloaded, more is needed quickly.  With more Sanctuaries there could be more success stories like this foul born from a mare a month after being saved from slaughter.