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Animal Shelters and Domestic Animals in Ireland - Dogs, Horses, Donkeys

Animal shelter volunteering in Ireland

Volunteering with animals on the green island of Ireland

Do you love animals and do you want to get involved for a good cause? In Ireland, you can volunteer for neglected dogs, cats, horses, ponies and donkeys at animal shelters. Alternatively, you can gain first professional experience with animals in a pet shop which also includes a dog salon.

What is the program about?

Ireland has many domestic animals. More than two-thirds of all Irish households either keep a dog or a cat. Volunteer work related to domestic animals is possible with the following types of organisations:
Dog Shelters: Ireland is facing a major street dog problem. Even though the Irish government is committed to responsible pet care and the number of stray dogs has been reduced by 50% since 2004, thousands of homeless dogs still end up in Ireland's animal shelters every year. We work with several dog shelters that take care of abandoned, abused or neglected dogs, nurse them up and try to find a new home for them. Some animal shelters also take in other animals such as cats.
Shelters for horses, donkeys and ponies: The Green Island is known worldwide for its horse keeping. Horse riding is a popular hobby in Ireland. Many first-class and internationally known racing and sport horses also come from Ireland. At the end of their use as an amateur riding horse or professional racing and sport horse, however, the animals are often no longer needed. In many cases the horses then are brought to sanctuaries, which are "Old Age Homes" for horses, where they spend the last years of their lives and are thus saved from being euthanized. There are also animal shelters that specialize in horses, donkeys and ponies, where animals confiscated by the authorities as a result of neglect or abuse are kept. The facilities are usually run by local unpaid volunteers and are financed through donations and membership fees. As a volunteer, you make an important contribution so that the irreplaceable work of the institutions can be continued.
Pet shop and dog salon: Would you like to work with animals and gain professional experience at the same time? We arrange placements with an Irish pet shop chain where you would clean cages, aquariums and terrariums, change water, feed the animals and advise customers. The shops also have dog salons where you can assist and learn the craft of being a dog groomer. Other services offered include dog care such as treatment for fleas, ticks and worms and  nutritional advice for pets. During this assignment you will not only learn how to deal professionally with animals and customers, but you can also improve your English skills at the same time!

How can you get involved?

At the animal shelters and sanctuaries you can volunteer in animal care for neglected, abandoned or abused dogs, cats, donkeys, ponies and horses. You would get involved in a variety of tasks, such as feeding the animals, cleaning the stables and cages, and grooming. Walking the animals and providing human contact are important for the animals: The dogs look forward to a long walk with you and the horses, ponies and donkeys also want to be moved and entertained. As a volunteer, you will give the animals what they need most: attention and love! Ideally, the animals should soon find a new home, so  volunteers can show visitors who are interested in adopting an animal through the animal shelter and introduce them to the animals.
With a placement in the pet shop you can gain work experience in many areas: You will look after customers, stock up shelves with pet food and pet supplies, clean cages, aquariums and terrariums, feed and care for animals. In the dog salon you can assist the local team with grooming the animals and learn a lot about pet nutrition and care!

What are your working times?

You will work 5 days a week for about 40-45 hours and have 2 days off a week. Since the animals need attention every day, your days off do not necessarily fall on the weekends. If you work on the weekends, you will have days off during the week instead.
The exact working hours depend on the facility and can vary - depending on the tasks and when the animals need to be looked after. So you should be flexible about the exact times.

What previous knowledge do you need?

No knowledge or previous work experience is required.
Most important of all is your love for animals! Ideally, you already have experience with animals such as dogs, horses, ponies or donkeys (but this is not a must). Your local colleagues will show you in detail what is important when working with the animals. You shouldn't be afraid of physical work, and you shouldn't mind getting your hands dirty.
Info Box
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Location: Various locations in Ireland
Availability: all year round; flexible start dates
Minimum Duration: 3 weeks
Maximum Duration: 1 year
Minimum age: 18 years
Required Language Skills: English
Accommodation: Host family accommodation. Details in the tab "Accommodation" below
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Supervision possible: Yes
Qualification supervisor: Specialists in handling animals
Minimum qualification of intern: None
Remuneration: No
Volunteering possible: Yes
Required qualification of interns: none
It is expected:
The "right" attitude
We arrange accommodation and meals with a host family near your placement. You will get an exciting insight into the life of an Irish family where you can improve your English language skills at the same time! Our local team knows all of our host families personally. Irish families tend to be very hospitable and open-minded. Many families enjoy to include interns in their everyday life and family activities.
The costs consist of the program costs and the accommodation costs.
The program costs are:
3-7 weeks: 620 EUR
8-12 weeks: 690 EUR
13 or more weeks: 790 EUR
The accommodation costs are:
200 EUR per week

This includes:

  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials
  • Preparation Session via Skype; together with further participants
  • Pick-up and Transfers from the train or bus station closest to your placement location (please see information how to get there in the slider "Getting There")
  • 24 Hours emergency support by our Irish support team
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
  • Accommodation on full board with your host family

The Rates do NOT include:

  • Travel to/from Ireland and the train/bus station nearest to your employment location (you book it on your own; we assist you)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations

You fly to Dublin or, if your job is on the west coast, to Shannon. Your flight should ideally arrive there in the morning or early afternoon. You will receive detailed instructions from us on how to travel independently from the airport to your employer by train or bus. You will then be picked up by your host family from the nearest train or bus station.

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