Many people in Costa Rica have vastly different attitudes towards domesticated animals
than those in Western countries, and as a result, animals are frequently abandoned (if they
had a home to begin with), often winding up hurt, disease ridden, and living by the side of a
road - or in some other equally horrible place.
While it may take time for attitudes in Costa Rica to change, there are existing veterinary clinics that work on treating and rehoming these lost and abandoned animals, most of which are dogs but also include cats and exotic animals that are victims of the illegal pet trade. We work closely with these clinics to help them with interns to advance their cause.
While these clinics are doing amazing work, they are often critically underfunded and understaffed, frequently relying on donations to keep going or coming up with novel ways to create funds (for example, one has a library whereby profits are used to meet the clinic’s needs). For this reason, volunteers are a hugely appreciated resource in helping to look after these deserted animals. Veterinary Volunteer programs that bring people to Costa Rica to work at these clinics are an important means in tackling this problem, as they actively work with veterinary professionals to not only provide care for the animals, but look to long-term solutions. While treating disease and rehoming these animals is certainly crucial, equally so is working towards a future where there are no (or, at least, much fewer) animals that need to be taken care of in this way. One such of these methods are spaying/neutering initiatives, which attempt to control the stray animal population through disrupting the uninhibited population growth that currently exists; this is one of, if not the, most effective way of ensuring that there are less animals suffering in the country.
The Hibiscus Veterinary Internship is a program that provides people from all over the world a means of helping in this situation, with volunteers spending time at a domestic animal welfare group, a non-profit organization that works in the Osa region of Costa Rica. They contribute an essential animal rescue and rehabilitation service to the region, and volunteers will assist them with this in multiple ways. These include providing day-to-day care for the abandoned animals, which, among other things, involves washing them, cleaning their living spaces, taking them for walks, and simply showing them some much-needed love. Further, volunteers would aid in treating any diseases and/or injuries that the animals may be afflicted with, as well as help out with administrative tasks, which includes attempts at rehoming the animals. They also run an education service to teach locals the importance of caring for their pets, as well as information on how to do so, and volunteers will help out with this as well. Volunteers with prior experience will also assist with spaying/neutering campaigns, which is doing important work in controlling the stray animal population.
This program provides useful real-world experience to those wanting to enter the veterinary field, although no prior experience is needed; in fact, anyone who simply wants to come and help these poor animals is welcome. Knowledge of Spanish is appreciated but not essential, and Spanish classes can be provided during the program. Transportation and food is also provided – basically, all you need to bring is yourself and a positive attitude!