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Although some pet owners in Playa care for their dogs and cats, many lack the resources to give them proper treatment and attention. Furthermore, other pet owners neglect their pets, or abandon them in the streets altogether. There are many stray cats and dogs that were abandoned and suffer from easily preventable diseases, untreated illnesses and injuries, and are left to scavenge for food and clean water.

Our team in Playa is working on bringing together community stakeholders to address the root causes of animal suffering in order to improve dog and cat care, reduce the number of strays, and support humane approaches to population control. They are developing approaches that include education, the provision of veterinary care, research, outreach, and policy to improve the welfare of dogs and cats.

Location of the Project:  Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Project length:  Min 2 week - Max 12 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Cancun International Airport
Volunteer Work:  Dog and cat rescue and care
Age:  18 - 70
Number of Volunteers:  4 international volunteers
Important Note:  ‚ÄčNote: if you are not fluent in Spanish, we recommend adding a short course (at least 20 hours) to your adventure in Playa. We will be happy to help you arrange for lessons.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms
Food:  Groceries are provided
Airport Transfers:  Volunteers are picked up on arrival (if arriving Friday 2pm-6pm)
Support:  Local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, visa (if necessary), travel health insurance, personal expenses, accommodations Friday night before the Saturday start date, airport transfer if arriving outside of above guidelines

The Yucatan Peninsula is a region in Mexico that is steeped in great natural beauty and ancient history. It is considered to be in the outer tropics and is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and other wildlife. Gorgeous white sandy beaches and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico surround its coastline.

The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for being the native home to the Mayan people until the 16th century. Still today you can visit the ancient ruins of the Mayan people in various places throughout the peninsula. 

Playa del Carmen is a popular touristic city, and people from different nationalities and different states in Mexico have moved there looking for a better life. This has made it one of the fastest growing cities in Latin America.

On your arrival day (Friday) you will stay at a local hotel, and then on the next day (Saturday) you will move into the accommodations and receive an orientation, join a welcome meeting, and hear a brief introduction to the project. Further training will be provided during your first week in Playa del Carmen and some of it will be provided as needed, depending on the current activities at the project and on your past experience.

Tasks and activities on the project are wide-ranging and depend on the needs at any time and any specific skills you might be able to bring. You should be prepared for some degree of change in the field, but your role is likely to include:

  • handling dogs and cats
  • assisting in the preparation for daily neutering and spaying surgeries (always lead by local vets)
  • assisting in the recovery area by playing and taking care of the animals, cutting their nails, cleaning their ears and removing ticks
  • doing surveys or implementing animal welfare workshops in the community
  • supporting animal welfare awareness and humanitarian treatment in hotels and local communities
  • helping out in different fundraising activities
  • increasing awareness on cat and dog population control in different areas focusing on disadvantaged communities
You will work on the project 5 days a week, spending the majority of the time fully immersed in project life. You will have two days off every week (those days might vary depending on activities on the ground).

Remember - working with animals can be physically and emotionally demanding, however, this is a very rewarding project. Also, your schedule is likely to have a good balance between work and downtime, with opportunities to enjoy the city and the surrounding area.

Internet:  Internet is available at internet cafes in town (for a fee).
Laundry:  Laundry facilities are available in town (for a fee).
Accommodations:  The accommodations will be in shared rooms in an apartment or a house.
Food:  Groceries are included in this program. All meals during the working week are prepared by the volunteers (in groups). During the weekends you will be free to organize your schedule and cook at your leisure.

Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age 18 years old
  • Advanced Spanish required - if a beginner or intermediate speaker, must add on 20 hours of Spanish class at the beginning of the program (at an additional fee). 
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Criminal background check (must be officially translated into English)
All the necessary training will be done before any of the actual project work. Your activities at the project will, of course, depend on the need and requirements in the field, and on your past experience. If you do have relevant skills, please let us know after you register.

The Yucatan Peninsula is full of amazing travel and adventure opportunities. From the beautiful waters and white sandy beaches, to the astounding untouched Mayan ruins, scuba diving in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world, or snorkel with whale sharks, the opportunities are endless.

From the project location in the northeastern part of the peninsula, you can easily access and day trip to relax on the white sandy beaches and swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Also, the city of Cancun is only 35km away and easily accessible with public buses that run between all major towns. For more adventurous weekend trips the famous Mayan ruins in Tulum or Coba are only 5 hours.

For those who are interested in sea life the options for snorkeling and scuba diving are numerous. Snorkel with varying sized turtles in Akumal Bay or with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, that migrate up near Cozumel between June and September. Scuba dive in one of the worlds top ten dive sites in Cozumel. For a totally different experience, snorkel or dive in the cenotes of the Yucatan, a unique system of underground rivers that flow beneath the entire peninsula.

Visit Merida, the cultural capital of the Yucatan, boasting many museums, galleries, restaurants and shops. Merida is also home to one of the best known and well restored Mayan ruin sites, Chichen Itza, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". Merida enjoys one of Mexico's largest historic centers and contains beautiful old colonial buildings and the oldest cathedrals on the continent.  
If you have the time for more travel after the program, the rest of Mexico offers a variety of experiences. Surfing on the pacific coast in Puerto Escondido one of the worlds best surf beaches. Or visit the colonial town of Oaxaca on the pacific coast to see some of the countries most spectacular architecture and home to many archeological sites including the Zapotec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those wishing for some city life a visit to the ever bustling Mexico city is a must.

Program Add-Ons (Not Included):  
Take your volunteering experience one step further!  

  • Through the Internship Certification Program, you’ll have a personal mentor who will help you develop leadership skills, routinely assess your progress and provide a professional reference upon completion of the program. 
  • Study Spanish while you’re volunteering and take your language skills to the next level.  
  • You can never be too prepared. Join the EFR training and get certified in First Aid and CPR for adults and children.

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