Help Wanted! To be Paid in Wiggles, Wags, Licks, and Unconditional Love 

Volunteering to Help Dogs and Cats in Yucatan

You may be surprised to discover that I was once a street dog. While I was living on the street, volunteers gave me food and one day a very nice human, who was a volunteer, rescued me and got me the medical care I needed for an injured leg. From that moment, it was like my entire world changed. More volunteers took me in and put my photo on Facebook. That was all it took to find me my new family. But not all dogs and cats are as lucky as I am.

Dogs and cats need human volunteers to help us because there are so many of us who have no one to love or care for us. It’s not like we aren’t cute, handsome, and smart (I’m speaking for myself here now), but for some strange reason, many humans just cannot be trusted to be responsible with us. They let us have far too many puppies, leaving millions of us homeless. If you’re reading this, you’re a clever human and understand that it would be simple to fix this by fixing us, but until that happens, we depend on volunteers to help us.

Many humans who live in Yucatan, or visit Yucatan, would love to volunteer to help the cats and dogs here. The good news is that there are a number of hard working groups here who are already helping cats and dogs in Yucatan and they really want volunteers to come help them. So, we got in touch with some of these organisations, and asked some humans, who are already volunteering, to learn more. It turns out that not only does volunteering help us animals, but it helps you humans too. It is a great way to make new friends and become part of the community. 

This was me when I lived on the streets of Mexico City. I am so grateful for the volunteers who saved me.

I hope that this article will inspire you to give some of your time to one of the many groups helping dogs and cats in your area. I am going to tell you a little bit about some of the organisations in Yucatan, and then, at the end of the article, I will give you more details about what to expect when you volunteer and how to get in touch. Please keep in mind that each of these groups do things differently and have different priorities and policies. So, do your research to find out whether your animal welfare views align with theirs that way you’ll find your perfect match.

One of the groups, who are well known for their excellent animal welfare work in Yucatan are called AFAD, which stands for Albergue Franciscano del Animal Desprotegido . AFAD is easier for my paws to type. As you probably know, I’m a huge advocate for spaying and neutering, so I very much appreciate that AFAD does so much great work running sterilisation services. They also have a shelter and responsibly rehome dogs and cats. I contacted a very kind human called Mary, who is the volunteer programme manager there for their ‘Viernes de Spa’.

Just a handsome dog at the spa. Nothing to see here.

It’s all about this special spa day on Fridays, when a group of volunteers get together at AFAD to bathe, groom, and care for animals at the shelter. The best part is that they give animals some time, affection and love. This is so important for dogs that are living in a shelter. It can be a very stressful and lonely life for dogs, especially if they were used to freedom on the streets or had been living with a family who loved them before. Mary says, “We’re here to pay attention to dogs, get them used to people, and be on the outlook for any health or behaviour issues.” Anyone who is volunteering for the ‘Viernes de Spa’, needs some basic dog sense and an understanding that not all dogs get along with each other.

There is also a Sunday volunteer team at AFAD. This type of volunteering is not for the feint of heart as it can be hot, sweaty, and dirty work, but the satisfaction of helping so many homeless animals as part of a team, who have so much love to give, is priceless. The team start at nine in the morning and the aim is to get the place ready for visitors by eleven. That’s when humans come to look for their new family members. The Sunday team usually works until 2pm, when the shelter closes to the public. The kind of work you can expect to do while you are there includes cleaning kennels, feeding, walking, and socialising the animals. If you prefer working with cats, you can volunteer to help in the cat area for the day.

Mary explained that some people can only stay for a couple of hours on Sunday, but volunteers who can give more time are really appreciated. If a volunteer can speak Spanish fluently and they have experience working in a shelter environment, they may be allowed to help show people around and become matchmakers. It makes my doggy heart go pitter patter just to think about it. 

Socialising puppies is an important job. It’s tough, but someone has to do it. That someone could be you!

Another well known animal organisation in Yucatan is Evolución. Evolución is an animal shelter that cares for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats and tries to find them good homes. They are always looking for committed volunteers, not just to care for animals, but to help organising fundraisers and events. I talked to Emily, one of the wonderful Evolucion volunteers to find out how she became involved with Evolucion. “I researched online and looked through different social media groups to find some kind of animal rights organization where I could go help out with clean-up and maintenance on the weekends, and that’s how I found Evolución. I got more and more involved, little by little, in different activities, like the numerous yard sales and fundraising events every year, as well as home visits and shelter maintenance, and I just felt compelled to continue with the cause.

The organisation explained in detail everything that volunteering entailed when I joined more than 10 years ago, always highlighting that any time we decided to donate in any aspect was always greatly appreciated, valued, and was always for the good of all the animals at the shelter. Besides that, Evolución’s website has a lot of educational information where you can learn and get oriented.”

There are so many cool humans in Yucatan helping out with important organisations. Cindy is a volunteer for Planned Pethood and AFAD. She has also helped many other groups in the area. I’ve told you a bit about AFAD already, so let me tell you about Planned Pethood, one of my favourite groups in Yucatan because, they focus on spaying and neutering.  Planned Pethood Mexico have a clinic in Merida, which operates as a full time veterinary hospital. They offer subsidised sterilisation for pets at the clinic, but there is so much more.

A little bit of love can go a long way. When you volunteer you change lives for the better.

Planned Pethood International have a training centre for veterinarians from around the world. The training centre is in Puerto Morelos, which isn’t in Yucatan state, but is on the Yucatan Peninsula. What’s is so important about this training centre is that the vets who come there to get free training in the most up to date, safest, and most effective pet sterilisation techniques, volunteer their time at sterilisation campaigns throughout Yucatan – both the state and the peninsula. Volunteers are often needed for these campaigns.

Cindy explained to me how hard it was to find volunteers when she started working with them and gave some real insight into how the group cooperates with other organisations and the government. “When we first started the spay neuter programs with Planned Pethood in a church in Progreso in year one, we could not get any local volunteers but the plan was always to transition the spay/neuter programmes to the government and the locals. In our early days, I would need about one hundred volunteers per day for the macro clinics from the expat side of things, but fast forward to now and those macro clinics are no more but we successfully transitioned to the local government and their team of locals doing clinics in small communities every week.

Not on the same scale and most expats do not know this and quite frankly, most of us miss it. It was exciting.  Many think that the government has dropped the ball because they are no longer called upon and lack of knowing Spanish is also a factor. Planned Pethood, in cooperation with AFAD, has taken the programme with the government and usually do clinics every Sunday in small communities. They sterilise approximately fifty to one hundred animals. The government funds these. Volunteers are within the PP team and are local vet students or part of the community that they are going to. “

Cindy is huge animal hero and works with so many groups, helping as much as she can. I will be listing some of them at the end of the article to help you in your search for volunteering opportunities. She made sure to remind me about No Mas Perritos, another one of my favourite groups. You may have read the article I wrote about them. If not, check it out. They trap stray dogs along the coast, sterilise them, and return them. Often, they get there too late though, and they explained that while they can’t accommodate volunteers during their daily operations, they do depend on them to socialise puppies that are living free, or, even better, to foster them and prepare them for new homes. 

Volunteers can help make sure these puppies are socialised and cared for so they are ready for their new families. Photo credit: No Mas Perritos.

Of course, there are so many animal welfare groups in Yucatan and far too many for me to write about. I’m sure I don’t even know about half of them. If you are reading this and want me to add more to my list, just let me know. Please make sure to include the aims of the organisation, the kind of volunteering opportunities that are available, whether fluency in Spanish is important, if any training is provided, and, most important, who to contact. 

A few things to be aware of. These groups are often extremely busy. They may not always be able to get back to you straight away when you get in touch, so please be patient and, if necessary, politely persistent – a bit like me when I want a piece of your taco. It was quite difficult for us to get as much information as we wanted for this article for this reason, so if you notice any gaps, let us know and we will be delighted to update the information here.

Please also remember that volunteers are there to make their lives easier, not more difficult, so please follow rules and don’t bring young children or your own pets with you. Always remember that while playing with dogs and cats is super fun for you and the puppies and kitties, volunteering involves a lot of hard, and sometimes dirty work. Be prepared to get stuck in. Finally, if you want to organise fund raising events, these are very appreciated. Make sure you discuss any plans you have for fundraising with the group first though to make sure that they don’t have another fundraiser planned at the same time and so that they can officially approve of your fundraising plans.
 

Volunteering Opportunities with Dogs and Cats in Yucatan


AFAD

What activities can I help with?

Fridays – Washing, bathing, grooming, handling, and socialising, and training.

Sundays 9:00 -14:00 – Cleaning, feeding, exercising, socialising.

Weekends – They have sterilisation clinics at their surgical suite on site. They need volunteers to assist with this. 

Other days – Social media volunteers, drivers with vehicles to transport animals for adoption to Petco, fundraising, home visits. 

Do I need to speak Spanish?

For the animal side of things, it isn’t necessary, but if you want to get involved in showing adopters around, doing home visits and interacting with the public, you will need to be able to speak some Spanish. Some volunteers do tours and show dogs to English speaking adopters, so it’s not out of the question. Spanish would be helpful if you want to assist with home visits.

Will I get any training?

Although training meetings have been a thing in the past, most volunteers now learn on the job.

How do I sign up?

Start by messaging AFAD on their Facebook page. 

Evolución

What activities can I help with?

Cleaning, animal care, fund raising, adoption events, interviewing potential adopters, and home visiting. They also need help with administration, volunteer recruitment, photography, graphic design, training, and vet techs.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

For work in the animal shelter involving cleaning and animal care, no. For any front of house activities, interviews, tours, and home visits, yes.


Will I get any training?

You will be shown what is needed and how they need you to do it. You can also visit their website which will help to orientate you and understand the way the organisation works.

How do I sign up?

Contact Evolución through Whatsapp +52 999 193 0628 Facebook or website.

No Mas Perritos

What activities can I help with?

Monitoring and socialising free range puppies, fostering. 

Do I need to speak Spanish?

No.


Will I get any training?

No Mas Perritos will let you know exactly what they need you to do.

How do I sign up?

Contact No Mas Perritos through their Facebook page.

Ranchito Rescate

What activities can I help with?

Feeding, fostering, driving, organising fund raisers, social media management. 

Do I need to speak Spanish?

It depends on the type of volunteer activity. 


Will I get any training?

Will educate and support as needed. 

How do I sign up?

Message through their Facebook page or email them.
 


 

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