Help us rescuing dogs and cats in Rivas, Costa Rica


Costa Rica

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  • Description


    My name is Tania and I am from Berlin in Germany. I have been living in Costa Rica with my husband, Angus, our 3 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats, for over 6 years. As an animal lover, it has been heart breaking to see so many homeless dogs and cats in need of care, love and a safe home. This situation led me to found and spearhead a small non-profit rescue organization based in Rivas / Perez Zeledon in June 2015.

    Up until recently we only worked with foster homes, but our dream was always to give the dogs a better environment in which to rest whilst recovering from their ordeals and waiting for their adopted families… that’s why we opened the animal rescue centre in March 2018.

    We have renovated and furnished a beautiful rented house with a large garden, which functions as our dog rehabilitation centre. Our rescue dogs live in a large outdoor compound and indoor kennels right next to the house. We try to limit the number of dogs to fifteen to twenty but we sometimes have more. In this respect we expect our volunteers to be flexible if we have an emergency case that needs urgent shelter. Once the animals are ready for adoption we usually find homes for them in Costa Rica, but also in the States and Canada.

    There is also a cute little cat called Lemon who lives with the volunteers in the house. She is very independent and loves to cuddle.

    What type of responsibilities would the volunteer have?

    · To give all dogs love and attention with lots of playtime
    · To feed them twice a day, make sure they have water and are clean and safe
    · To keep all areas free of excrement and wash down the kennel area daily
    · To keep the dogs free of fleas and ticks (they are given medication which works very well)
    · To take the dogs on daily walks each morning and afternoon and regular toileting for the younger and
    crated dogs when necessary
    · To make sure their beds are clean
    · To help with vet visits and assist with any local spay and neuter clinics
    · To give us regular dog updates via Whatsapp or email when we are away
    . Wherever possible, to help us by promoting us on social media by tagging and sharing our fundraisers
    · To provide your own groceries, cook your own meals and keep your private space clean
    · To help keep the volunteer house clean and tidy

    Free time

    You will have free time throughout the day. However, the dogs are our main responsibility so they need walking first thing in the morning, feeding, given medication if needed, tracking vaccination and de-worming dates and making sure that they are clean and cleaned up after. They must have access to fresh water, be fed, have no fleas or ticks and remain in a safe environment.

    Long term volunteers (those who stay more than 3 weeks) are welcome to go on a weekend trip providing at least two volunteers remain on site. Rescuing and caring for animals is a very rewarding experience but it can be a lot of work depending on the particular health condition of the dogs. You will need to be willing to get up bright and early to go on beautiful mountain hikes with our dogs but you will also have plenty of play time with the pups during the day, get to explore the beautiful area and meet like minded people. We work as a small and dedicated team of animal lovers who all have the same goal and want the same thing: to rescue and change the lives of homeless and neglected animals.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    General Maintenance
    Help around the house
    Animal Care
    Charity Work

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Taking care of rescue dogs and cats whilst they are recovering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, especially when you see traumatized and injured animals transform into beautiful, healthy, loyal, loving and playful family members. Receiving updates from our adopters is absolutely wonderful. It’s the most rewarding thing when you see “our babies” snuggled up on cozy sofas with their loving and caring human at their side.

    The sunny morning walks with our dogs are absolutely gorgeous. You will enjoy the views of the Chirrió mountains, take long and leisurely walks on mountain trails or along the river far away from tourist places, in one of Costa Rica's most beautiful areas. Inhaling the cool, fresh air and the exercise will get you fit! You will be working with beautiful dogs and cats, volunteers, foster families, dog lovers and vets.

    Review from one of our volunteers from Toronto / Canada:

    "In May this year (2018), I was very lucky to volunteer at this animal rescue in Rivas, Perez Zeledon. The rescue house is clean and safe and set in the beautiful mountains of central Costa Rica.

    Waking up bright and early and taking the resident dogs for a good long hike up the mountain trails is a great way to start any day. After walking, all dogs are fed and any other house keeping is taken care of, depending on what is happening that week, perhaps visits to the vet or the rescue of other animals in need.

    There is definitely time for exploring this beautiful country, and depending on the number of volunteers that are around, arrangements can be made to do that, as long as the pups and Lemon the resident kitty are taken care of.

    I would definitely volunteer again and would recommend this experience to anyone who would like to gain some first hand knowledge of dog rescue and perhaps even save a dog as well. I fostered and decided to keep one of the lovely pups I met when I was there, and now Mia is living the big city life in Toronto."

    Claire Hughes, Toronto, Canada

  • Help


    We are looking for:
    · Unconditional dog and cat lovers who want to be here to help us with our rescued animals (and not just for a free place to stay)
    · Mature, tidy, self-sufficient people, able to use their own initiative
    · People with a good experience in animal welfare
    · Enthusiastic people who embrace the idea of being involved in an animal charity project
    · People with a certain fitness level as you will have to go on daily hikes in a hilly environment

    This workaway will not work for:
    · People who don’t understand that this is a non-profit charity organization, responsible for the care of rescued animals
    · People who don’t want to get their hands dirty (you don’t have to love picking up poo but you have to do it)
    · People who don’t want to get up early in the morning
    · People who cant prepare their own meals
    · People with chronic health conditions that may interfere with the care of the animals

    Are there other employees or volunteers for the project?
    · There is always have one person in charge who stays long term at the rescue center.
    · Founder, Tania, lives in the area, provides transport when required for the dogs and drops by as
    often as possible
    · A gardener who comes twice a month
    · A cleaner who comes twice a month

  • Languages spoken

    German: Fluent
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Fluent
    Italian: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    The animal rescue centre is located in a tranquil and remote mountain village, close to the Chirripó National Park (about 25 minutes from San Isidro by car), nested in a typical and authentic Costa Rican neighbourhood. The property has a large garden with flowers, fruit trees and all sorts of exotic plants.

    The accommodation provided for our volunteers is a spacious, single story bungalow with 4 bedrooms, a large fully equipped kitchen with a dining table and everything you need to prepare your meals (microwave, fridge, 6-burner oven, coffee machine, rice cooker, blender) and 2 bathrooms with warm water showers. Up to 6 volunteers share the spacious house and bathrooms. Single volunteers might have their own room and couples can also be accommodated in the bedrooms provided.

    Basic wifi (like everywhere in Costa Rica it’s very slow), towels and bed linen are provided for the volunteers' use. A washing machine is also available.


    Travel Health Insurance
    We insist that our volunteers have their own travel health insurance.
    Our charity is not able to cover any volunteer medical costs if injuries happen on our property, during dog walks or whilst interacting / working with the animals.
    Every volunteer is 100% responsible for their own medical costs if incurred.

    Trial Period
    We have a 5 day trial period, after which we decide if the volunteer can stay or not but we do reserve the right to ask a volunteer to leave if the relationship is not working.

    House Rules
    If, at any time during their stay, a volunteer doesn't follow our house rules or instructions on how to handle the animals, or, if we have the impression a volunteer might be a danger to the project, we have the right to ask volunteers to leave the property with 24 hours notice.

    We have a strict zero drug tolerance. Any volunteer consuming drugs will be asked to leave the property immediately.

    Moderate drinking at appropriate times is accepted ie volunteers are welcome to drink a glass or two of wine during meals or a couple of beers after work in the evening. However, getting drunk on the property is not permitted.

    Minimum Age
    We only accept volunteers over the age of 25 years with prior experience in dog care.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There is a mini supermarket within walking distance and the next village, Rivas, is just a few stops away by public bus. There is also a bus to San Isidro, a larger town with lots of shopping options and a weekly farmers market. The bus stop is located directly in front of the house.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    15 hours, max 5 days per week

Athena’s puppies are very interested in our house cat Lemon :)
Morning walk with the rescue gang
Sofie from Denmark all puppied up!

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Accuracy of profile: (5.0)

Cultural exchange: (4.8)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 645634744125