Sri Lanka – Dog Care and Veterinary Assistance

Apply for 2 weeks and get your 3rd week free if you join between October to December 2023!

Join GoEco on the tropical coast of southern Sri Lanka to provide care for abandoned dogs and stray puppies at a renown shelter!


Program Highlights

  • Spend your days surrounded by adorable puppies and dogs at a renowned, professional and ethical shelter
  • Enjoy helping these dogs get both the emotional and medical care they need
  • Live next to world-class beaches
  • Explore Sri Lanka with fellow volunteers on weekends to make memories that will last
  • Enjoy weekly yoga sessions, weekly movie nights, monthly bike tours and barbecues


Your schedule at a glance (Minimum two-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Saturday: Airport pickup according to scheduled flight and shared transfer to volunteer villa. Meet and greet with fellow volunteers.

Day 1, Sunday: A welcome orientation and project training is provided, including health and safety training, culture training and an area orientation tour. Enjoy the rest of the day by exploring local beaches with fellow volunteers or joining an adventure! ( See “Travel Highlights” below for recommendations!)

Days 2-6, Monday-Friday: On-site orientation and rewarding volunteer work at the dog shelter from around 8:00 AM -12:00 PM.

Days 7-8, Saturday and Sunday: Free time for volunteers to relax or explore.

Remaining Weeks: The following weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having weekends free. Departures are on Saturdays.


Location icon Location of the Project: Thalpe, Sri Lanka

Project length Project length: Minimum 1 week – Maximum 16 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Animal care, veterinary assistance

Age Age: Minimum age 18

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to three international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Animal and dog lovers with no professional training can join this program. Veterinary students have the option to upgrade to the internship program, see minimum requirements and additional fees below.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a volunteer villa

Food Food: Three meals per day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Shared airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days at specific hours. Upgrades to private transfers are available for an additional fee.

Orientation Orientation: Upon arrival, volunteers will receive a walking tour and welcome/ introductory training presentations.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, online ETA visa (around $35), travel health insurance and personal expenses.

This program takes place in Thalpe, which is close to the volunteer villa in Galle. Galle is a beautiful area in southern Sri Lanka that is surrounded by lush greenery and is in proximity to world-class beaches! Many of the nearby beaches are prime surfing spots, and others are more relaxing. There is even a turtle lagoon nearby. Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient religious buildings, museums and more. Galle is also quite trendy, and is home to cafes, shops, and boutique hotels. The volunteer villa is less than 100 metres from Unawatuna Beach, which is one of the most prominent beaches in all of Sri Lanka. Surfing, diving, snorkelling, beaching, etc, are all available in proximity.

There are about 3 million stray dogs in Sri Lanka, many of whom suffer from malnutrition, disease, and injuries. Unsprayed females produce several litters of puppies every year, many of which are simply abandoned in front of temples or at the gates of shelters. Animal care facilities in Sri Lanka, although limited, provide essential care for these dogs and promote public health.

As a volunteer, you will join the team of a well renown charity in Sri Lanka, with over 2,000 dogs in their facility. The dogs live in a beautiful, free-roaming sanctuary which provides a safe-haven for sick, disabled, and vulnerable strays. There is also an on-site veterinary clinic with resident local vets providing life-saving treatment and care. They also run neutering/rabies vaccination programs in the local area, adoption schemes and animal welfare education.

Volunteers will help provide hands-on care for stray puppies and dogs at this shelter. Many of the stray and abandoned dogs are sick and in need of medical care besides routine care


Some of your tasks may include:

  • Assisting with daily feedings
  • Playing and socialising with the dogs
  • Working with injured and disabled dogs and using a range of rehabilitation techniques such as hydrotherapy, wheelchair therapy and more.
  • Taking part in medicine distribution and observing their intake of medicines
  • Socialising isolated dogs
  • Caring for newborn puppies
  • Grooming activities (brushing, washing, claw cutting, ear cleaning, etc.)
  • Occasionally assisting with special project outside the clinic such as assisting with the vaccination program, joining the feeding tour on the streets, etc.

Schedule: Volunteers will work from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, Monday-Friday.


Veterinary Internship Upgrade 

Qualified veterinary students can join the dog care internship program and gain hands-on experience. As an intern you will work under the supervision in-house vets and other supervisors at the clinic. You can assist in a range of tasks, including neutering programs (if they have the skills), treatment and diagnosis of various diseases, lump / tumour removals, wound stich ups, physiotherapy and more. You may also conduct checks on several disabled dogs, including health checks, temperature monitoring, dehydration checks, urine infections, etc. Depending on skill level, interns can watch and assist with orthopaedic surgery as well. Interns also help with the administration of drugs, wound dressings and vaccinations.

Internet icon Internet: Each volunteer may use up to 5 GB of WiFi in the volunteer house during their stay.

Laundry icon  Laundry: Laundry services are available for an additional fee.

Accommodations icon  Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in shared, single-gender rooms in a volunteer villa overlooking the beach and Indian Ocean. The villa has 11 bedrooms with fans, 11 bathrooms and showers with hot water. Rooms are shared with a maximum of 4 volunteers per room. There is also a private pool on site. The house has eco-friendly features including solar heating panels. There may be up to 52 volunteers in the house at a time. Private rooms (single or double) and AC rooms are available for an extra fee.

Food icon  Food: Three meals per day will be prepared by the main and assistant chef, using local, fresh ingredients. Tropical fruit is available during every meal and there is a salad bar set up during most lunches and dinners. Vegan, nut-free, gluten-free and lactose-free diets can be accommodated. The local team will do their best to accommodate special diets, but notice must be given in advance. Tea, coffee and filtered water are available 24/7.

Volunteer program requirments:

  • Online ETA entry visa. We will send you full instructions following application
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Police clearance form
  • Proficiency in English


Internship program extra requirements: 

  • Minimum of 2 weeks
  • At least 2 years of veterinary school and proof of enrolment at (or graduation from) a veterinary university
  • Current CV or Resume
  • Motivation letter describing personal background and rationale for pursuing this internship
  • Copy of passport
  • Following your application, you can make a request to join the internship program (subject to availability)

As a volunteer, you will enjoy weekly evening yoga sessions, weekly movie nights, monthly bike tours, monthly special Sri Lankan BBQ and a monthly Buddhist temple visit! The volunteer villa is less than 100 metres from Unawatuna Beach, which is one of the most prominent beaches in all of Sri Lanka. Surfing, diving, snorkelling, beaching, etc, are all available in proximity. Additional travel adventures are available for an additional fee, see below:


Adventure Tour (Highly Recommended):
Extend your stay in Sri Lanka by participating in a seven-day Adventure Tour! This adventure tour includes a game drive, visits to waterfalls, a long train ride across beautiful tea gardens and local villages, an overnight stay at a riverside eco-lodge, visits to Sri Lanka’s most famous Buddhist temple in the historic city of Kandy, a village walk, a visit to Sigiriya Lion Rock, spend time in a local market and a trip to Negombo Beach!


Additional Recommendations:

  • Wildlife safari at Yala National Park or Udawalawe National Park (instead of elephant safari)
  • Rainforest hike to Sinharaja Forest Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
  • Surfing lessons at nearby beaches
  • Scuba diving (PADI certification available)
  • Whale watching (during the season)
  • Cooking classes
  • Galle Fort visit (a UNESCO World Heritage site)

Volunteer Experiences

Want to join this program?