Welcome! Start here (pinned post)

Are you a pre-vet or veterinary student interested in volunteering abroad with domestic animals? Great!

I am interested in trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs for stray/free-roaming dogs and cats, shelter medicine, public health, rabies vaccination campaigns, animal welfare in international development, and providing medical services to low-income communities in the US and abroad. I’ve done research into ways of quantifying and monitoring free-roaming/feral cat populations. I’ve been a short-term volunteer in 5 countries with 7 different projects, both through structured pay-to-volunteer programs and independently. I’ve never met another pre-vet or vet student who has the sort of varied international volunteering experience that I do, so I’m in the unique position to be able to compare different options based on first-hand knowledge. (I’ve traveled to about 30 countries total in my life, so I’m also an experienced independent traveler aside from my animal-related volunteering.)

I want to help you find the international volunteering route that fits your needs while also challenging you to gain a real understanding of global animal welfare and health issues. I am not a paid recruiter for any program, I earn no commission from voluntourism companies, and I’ll give you the honest pros and cons of my experiences so you can make your own decisions. Above all, I want you to get more out of your trip than just those cliche photos of you hugging cute brown kids. I want to help you gain a thoughtful, internationalist view of veterinary medicine, so that once you’ve earned your DVM, you’ll be in a better position to volunteer again when your help will be more useful. I try to be an optimist, but I’m not an obtusely enthusiastic do-gooder who’s here to tell you that you can save the world over spring break. I advocate having some understanding of postcolonial theory/orientalism and the many critiques of voluntourism before undertaking any voyage abroad to “help.” Even your best of intentions could use some introspection.

An important disclaimer about the othering inherent in this blog: as an American, my use of “international” and “abroad” assumes that you are a pre-vet or veterinary student from a developed/Western country, and that you wish to travel to developing/non-Western countries to work with animals.

I also assume that you are an pre-vet or veterinary student, but I imagine that there is useful information here for anyone interested in volunteering with animals in developing countries, or for veterinarians who are curious about the subject.

I advocate evidence-based medicine as the essential foundation of medical ethics and animal welfare. The first step towards providing cost-effective, compassionate care for your patients is to use therapies that actually work.

I’m hoping you’ll read my posts in chronological order, starting at the end of page 4 and reading forward, because I have been moving from general advice to more specific information and trip reviews. You can easily download and read all of my posts using an RSS feed reader, or use the “subscribe via email” link to the right.

You can send me an email via my contact form.

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2 responses on Welcome! Start here (pinned post)

  1. Sabrina, I’m so excited to have discovered your new blog! Thanks for linking over to my site. I’m sure we will share a lot of the same type of readers. I’ve enjoyed reading about your nuanced understanding of international travel and volunteering. If you’re ever interested in writing about one of your experiences as a guest post for my site, please let me know!

    1. Thank you, Elliott! I commented on your blog a little while ago about volunteering at ESMA in Egypt, an experience which I’ll write more about later. By the way, I originally found you looking for street dog vaccination programs, and saw your post about GARC. It sounds like a great project, and I hope to spend time with them at some point.

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