Volunteers Welcomed at AHPPA


AHPPA Volunteers

A frequently asked question (FAQ) to the AHPPA animal shelter is, “Do you accept volunteers to work at your shelter?”   Not only do we accept, but we invite and encourage volunteers to join with us in the work we do on behalf of the animals in Costa Rica!  In addition to local residents who wish to volunteer, international and visiting vets and guests are welcomed to participate in a variety of jobs related to the care of both cats and dogs and sometimes wildlife and farm animals.

Local residents and visitors must be a minimum of 18 years of age to volunteer at the shelter; volunteers who are younger (Costa Ricans and foreigners alike) are required to produce a permission document from their parent(s) to satisfy child labor laws in Costa Rica and to remove responsibility of AHPPA should an accident occur. Typically, these volunteers will spend time socializing with the animals, walking and grooming them.  Another great help is the cleaning of the pens and cat litter boxes.

As a volunteer, it helps to be a self-starter, someone who can take directions and keep themselves occupied with the animals.  Our staff is often swamped with tending to emergencies, pet owners and surgeries and cannot be called away frequently to answer, “Now what do I do?”  In addition, we appreciate that you commit to a time period and selected days and times and that you show up as promised.

Student Veterinarian Volunteers

For several years, veterinarian students from both Costa Rica and around the world have participated in more advanced animal care at AHPPA animal shelter.  If qualified* to do so, vet student volunteers may assist our veterinarian clinical team.  Third and fourth year vet students, depending on their experience, may assist with surgeries.  This is valuable work experience and training for students. In addition to the surgery aspect, it gives student volunteers an understanding of how different cultures work, such as Costa Rica, given the limited to non-existent governmental support.

A Popular Volunteer Opportunity: Mobile Spay & Neuter

Volunteers: Mobile Spay & Neuter

One of the most exciting and popular, although certainly not the easiest, is qualified volunteer participation with our Mobile Spay and Neuter Program.  Our director, Lilian, honestly describes this activity as, “working in the trenches.” Volunteers travel with our hero vet, Luis, to remote and poorer areas throughout Costa Rica to attend to the animals in communities that are in need of low-cost sterilizations, vaccinations and first aid veterinary care.

Over the years, student volunteers and visiting veterinarians from other countries have written about their experiences on these expeditions with the AHPPA Spay & Neuter Program.  Some of these can be found on our blog; for example, Attending Veterinarian, Dr. Abi O’Connor BVM&S, MRCVS wrote several posts about her time spent as a volunteer with AHPPA; click  to read her inspirational story about Tortuguero.

To help answer many of the repeated questions related to volunteering at the Refugio – please review our FAQ questions and answers section of this website for volunteers. If your question is not addressed, we are happy to reply. Contact us here through our website.

Refugio Lodging at the Shelter for Volunteers

Volunteers Lodging

We do have a nice, comfortable apartment on the AHPPA premises; this is available to visiting volunteers on a first come, first serve basis.  The apartment sleeps two people with a bunk bed configuration. There is one complete bath, complete with hot water, a functional kitchenette and Wi-Fi for internet access.  The rental fee is $200.00 USD (approx. ¢100,000 colones) per week.

The local bus passes by the Refugio animal shelter (as locals refer to the shelter) regularly, making it convenient to get to and from the center of San Rafael de Heredia for shopping, restaurants and exploring the town.  Taxis are also readily available.

We recommend upon arrival to Costa Rica, you make plans to stay in a hotel near to the airport. With advanced notice, we can provide you with the name and phone number of a trusted taxi driver (speaks English and Spanish) who can pick you up in Alajuela or airport hotel and bring you to the AHPPA shelter. This must be arranged in advance.

Smiles for Treatment of Yena

We truly appreciate all volunteers who care to spend their time helping the animals via AHPPA animal shelter.  Thank you!

* Volunteers who wish to participate with surgical procedures must have a specific amount of experience in their academic educational training. This varies by country. Proof will be required from the veterinarian school that  are attending or have graduated from. 

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