FAQ: AHPPA Animal Shelter Costa Rica

FAQ AHPPA Animal Shelter

Find Your Answer: FAQ

The following frequently asked questions, or FAQ,  have been submitted by our readers and people who care about animals, both residents of and visitors to Costa Rica. Answers are provided by our directora Lilian Schnog and assisting staff.

Please review this page to find the answer to your questions; You may also make a comment or ask a question at the bottom of the page.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy reading our FAQ page.

Note: All comments will be approved before they are posted to the website to help reduce duplications. Please only submit one question at a time.  If you do not see a question related to yours, please submit by using the comment box.

Adoption (questions and answers):

1. We have a pet we can no longer keep – can we bring him/her to AHPPA?

We recommend that you try to find a home for your pet before contacting us. There is only so much room at the shelter, so it depends also if we have space. If the pet is ill, or has medical issues, you will need to pay for his/her medical attention. Also, it is more difficult to place older dogs for adoption; if necessary, your pet may spend his days in our sanctuary for a fee…depending on age and size. Of course, we do everything we can to help the animals, but as a responsible pet owner we encourage you to find a new home for your pet. If all else fails, we were certainly assist.

2. I have a pet I can no longer keep – can you pick him/her up?

We do not pick up animals, however, you can bring your pet to us and we will try to find it a home. To leave a pet with us, there is a fee. Contact us for about the fees for cats or dogs. The fee depends upon the animal’s size and condition and covers neuter or spay surgery, vaccinations and food and housing.

3. We found a cat, dog, pig, goat or bird in need of medical attention – can you help?

We are committed to helping all animals in Costa Rica; you must bring or arrange to have the animal brought to us. Our vet fee for medical attention, during the week is 5,000 colones plus the cost of medicines. Saturday’s vet fee is 10.000 colones.

4. I found (any animal): can you come take it and find it a home?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, we cannot send our vehicle to pick up animals; please see frequently asked questions #2 and #3 above.

5. We are interested in adopting: a puppy, a kitten, a dog, a cat – what do you have?

We always have a wide range of animals available for adoption; best to visit our shelter during the times stated below in FAQ  #7 and find your new best friend.

6. What does it cost to adopt a cat or dog (kitten or puppy)?

To adopt a dog or cat we ask a donation of 5,000 colones. The same for puppies and kittens.

7. When can I come to the shelter to adopt a pet?

Adoption hours are Monday through Friday 9 am to 2 pm + Sat 9 am to 1 pm.  Although AHPPA shelter hours are extended later into the day, adoptions take time to process and arrange for mandatory spay and neuter surgery.  So, if you come to our shelter after 2 pm during the week, or after 1 pm on Saturday, we will not be able to process your adoption at that time. We appreciate your cooperation.  The shelter is closed on Sundays.

8. Can you send me photos of the cats or dogs (kittens or puppies) you have for adoption?

Unfortunately, we cannot send photos. Please visit us at the AHPPA Refugio Animal Shelter to find your new pet.  For directions to the shelter click here. We do regularly post photos of adoptable cats and dogs on our Facebook page.  Please see our Facebook.com/Animal Shelter Costa Rica AHPPA but it is recommended to visit the shelter during adoption hours as posted in # 7 above.

9. I found a cat or dog here in Costa Rica that I want to take home with me to my country… what is required and can you help with the process?

Yes we can help arrange to qualify taking your new found pet home with you. The vaccines should be current with a vet certificate. Checking the animal’s general health, vaccinations and providing a certificate can be done at AHPPA clinic. You must allow time for this; we cannot do this in less than 48 hours. Contact us for details. Please note: it is far easier to ship a pet from Costa Rica to the USA than to Europe. Europe requires quite some time: they require a quarantined rabies test which takes at least 3 to 4 months.

Lost Pets (questions and answers):

1. We lost our pet – can you help us find it?

It is a terrible feeling to lose a beloved pet!  As soon as your pet has gone missing the best thing to do is go around the neighborhood with a photo of your dog and give people your phone number. The next thing we suggest is to make flyers: include a photo, your contact name and phone number and the date. Make many copies and post throughout your neighborhood, especially places like Post Office, grocery stores, bakeries, local stores, etc.  We will post on our website site, but you must send us the information as listed on our lost and found page. We will also post on our AHPPA Facebook page once you provide all the information AND the photo.  We hope you and your pet are reunited soon!

Found Animals (questions and answers):

1. We found a sweet cat or dog (kitten or puppy) – can you take it?

This requires the same procedure as when someone can no longer keep their pet. (See Adoption FAQ #1 and #2 above).  We prefer you either keep the animal if you can or try to find it a home.  We will be happy to assist by posting the information (best to include a photo) on our website blog  and on our AHPPA Facebook page but we request that you follow the requirements as listed on our lost and found page.   Note: 95 % of animals coming into the shelter are not  previously owned… they are typically street animals that someone cared enough to give it a second chance bringing it to us.

2. We found a wild animal can you come rescue it?

No we cannot pick up any animal- it must come to us. You will need to call MINAE – the Costa Rican governmental agency that deals with wild animals. Their telephone numbers are:

  • 22677997
  • 27951446
  • 22610257

See FAQ # 3 below if you have in your possession an injured wild animal.

3. We found a wild animal that is injured; can you fix it?

We have to know what the problem is first; please call the shelter or send us an e-mail. If we are unable to assist the animal, you will need to contact  the Zoo in Alajuela.  Their phone number is: 22336701

A.H.P.P.A. Jobs (questions and answers):

1. I love working with animals – do you have a job for me?

At this time we have no job vacancies at the Refugio de Animales.  Our staff is a loyal bunch of animal lovers who love their job, thus we have a very low turn-over rate of employees.

Volunteering (questions and answers):

1. I am interested in volunteering at the AHPPA animal shelter – do you accept volunteers?

Yes! AHPPA animal shelter Costa Rica welcomes volunteers from around the world. Please review the following FAQ questions and answers for more information.

2. Do you accept vet students to assist with surgeries?

Yes, but only 4th and 5th year veterinarian students are allowed to assist with surgeries.  AHPPA receives (mostly) 4th year vet students, from Costa Rica and other countries.  You will learn and practice various procedures at our clinic, including assisting in surgeries. For the more adventuresome, you may have the opportunity to travel and assist our vet, Luis, who performs neuter and spay surgeries in remote areas of the country; this is known as AHPPA Spay & Neuter Mobile Program and is one of our most effective programs for reducing the number of over-populated street dogs in Costa Rica.

3. Do you have lodging available for volunteers?

For volunteer vet students, we have ONE small apartment with a kitchenette on the Refugio premises and is available on a first come, first serve basis. The fee for the apartment is $200 USD per week per student. This includes the apartment and training at the shelter hospital and assisting with our Spay and Neuter program to rural areas. The apartment sleeps 2 students maximum.


4. I am a 3rd year vet student and would like to apply my skills by volunteering at your shelter – what do you offer?

Your time spent as a vet student volunteer at AHPPA will provide you a wealth of  experience; you will learn much working at the shelter and in our veterinary     clinical hospital. There is no problem with 3rd year vet students volunteering in various areas but they do not assist with surgeries.  Previous visiting volunteers have expressed the life-changing experience and knowledge gained in volunteering with AHPPA.  We look forward to having you with us!

5. I am NOT a vet student but have always loved animals: can I volunteer at AHPPA?

Certainly! AHPPA can always use volunteer help. You can assist with exercising, playing, brushing/washing the dogs, petting/visiting the cats, cleaning cages, etc. We do ask that you are consistent with your schedule, are self-reliant and can find things to do without constant supervision. It does help if you speak some Spanish in order to communicate with our staff.

6. I am NOT a vet student; Do you have a room for me if I volunteer?

At this time, our on-site apartment is reserved only for vet volunteers who assist with clinical care or students currently enrolled in a vet school. If available, we will let you know but you must tell us of your arrival and departure dates first. We charge $200.00 USD per week per person for the apartment.

7. I am traveling to Costa Rica and am interested in volunteering at your shelter and need at least 2 months to prepare to travel. I need info on what airport to fly into and any other info you feel is important.

We welcome all volunteers. However, we can not act as travel agent as our        plate is very full with attention given to the animals at the AHPPA shelter. You must be responsible for researching the information you need. What we can tell you is that the airport you would fly into is Juan Santa Maria Int’l airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.  If your arrival time is after 2:00 pm local time, we suggest you stay in a hotel near the airport. This is because the shelter closes at 5:00 pm and  after collecting luggage, going through customs and getting to our facility, a  45 + minute drive, you may get here and the gates are closed. There is one hotel in our area – La Condessa; it is a lovely and higher-end (expensive) hotel. We can also provide you with the cellular number for a taxi driver who charges very fair rates (lower than airport taxis); he is good driver who speaks English and will pick you up near the airport and bring you to the shelter. We suggest you call him in advance and let him know you are a volunteer with Refugio de Animales.  Please communicate with us in advance as soon as you know your arrival date to Costa Rica if you are a vet student volunteer in need of lodging.

8. What are the best months, weather-wise for volunteering at your shelter?

Weather in Costa Rica is an unpredictable thing. We are at a higher elevation and the mountains tend to bring lots of rain and electrical storms during the green or rainy season, which runs April through December. We would suggest you bring clothes for both cool and wet, warm and dry, especially if your volunteer efforts include working with Luis, our Mobile Spay and Neuter vet, who travels all around the country castrating pets for low-income pet owners and to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and street dogs in Costa Rica.

Spay & Neuter (questions and answers):

1. How much does it cost to have my pet spayed or neutered at AHPPA?

We have 2 different Spay and Neuter rates: one for during the week and one for Saturdays.  The reason for this is to encourage pet owners to bring their pets to our clinic during the week for surgery because Saturdays are like a zoo!  We are very, very busy on Saturdays!


Monday through Friday Surgery Hours: 9 am until 3 pm

  • 10,000 colones small to medium dogs and cats (and rabbits!)
  • 12,000-15,000 colones for large dogs

Saturdays Surgery Hours: 9 am until 2 pm

  • 12000 colones small to medium dogs and cats
  • 15,000 colones for large dogs, and 20,000 colones for extra large breeds.

2. What instructions do I need to follow before my pet is spayed or neutered?

It is very important that your pet not be given or allowed to take any food or water 12 hours prior to his/her spay or neuter surgery.

3. Do I have to make an appointment for spay and neuter surgery at AHPPA clinic?

No, you do not need nor do we take appointments for spay and neuter surgeries; we operate on a first come, first serve basis. Depending on the amount of business of a given day, the waiting time is approximately 1 hour, but it could be more. You will be able to take your pet home an hour after its surgery.

4. I would like to talk to someone about sponsoring or setting up a Spay & Neuter day in my area – who do I contact?

Please contact our director, Lilian Schnog  via e-mail at: spaycostarica [at] yahoo [dot] com

2 thoughts on “FAQ – AHPPA Animal Shelter Costa Rica

  1. Hello,

    I’m a fact-checker at Outside magazine. I’m working on an article about dog shelters in Costa Rica, and would be grateful to speak with someone at AHPPA who is familiar with the topic. Is there anyone you could suggest?

    Reid Singer

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