VIDA Volunteer

Our organization provides high quality spay and neuter field clinics in Central America in accordance with International Humane Society Guidelines - "Field Services" 

Vida currently helps control animal overpopulation in communities in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. 
We offer two distinct Veterinary Programs: pre-vet and advanced vet. The Pre-vet Program is for those students without any previous surgical training and the Advanced Vet Program is designed for upper level veterinary students and recent graduates.
If you are a student seeking a supervised and ethical hands-on service learning experience with animals, Vida is the right program for you!

This is a high quality educational program for those who wish to gain clinical and practical experience in the field of Veterinary Medicine. 
The Vida program focuses mainly on the sterilization of felines and canines in field clinics; however, participants will also gain experience working with large animals. Volunteers who participate in our program will have an interactive experience that is unique to Vida.

Vida operates field clinics in accordance with the International Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association -Field Services Guidelines which emphasizes on patient and volunteer safety, high quality pain management protocols, appropriate post-operative care, and the ethical participation of volunteers in surgical procedures. The AVMA and AVS say the following about student participation in field clinics:

“It is the opinion of the American Veterinary Medical Association that surgery performed for non-research purposes on any animal is the practice of veterinary medicine that requires extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and medicine. Therefore, instruction of NON-VETERINARY students in surgical procedures is not advocated.”

AVMA Policy Statement 2010: Surgical Procedures by Non-Veterinary Students.

“The ASV encourages veterinary students to take advantage of opportunities to participate in spay neuter events both within the United States and abroad. These events can provide valuable practical experience. In addition, they serve to increase awareness of and efforts aimed at solving the overpopulation problem. Students are cautioned, however, to participate only in those programs that meet ‘The Association of Shelter Veterinarians Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs’ published in the July 1, 2008 Journal of the AVMA and only to the extent that is appropriate for their level of education. Student surgeons require direct supervision and mentoring by the designated responsible veterinarians. Students should not participate in surgical programs that are not in compliance with local veterinary practice regulations. Pre-veterinary students and veterinary technicians should not perform surgeries.”

Association of Shelter Veterinarians Position Statement 2011: Student Surgical Experiences.

Objective: Population control

What to expect during a regular clinic day?

Patient safety and volunteer safety are our number one priorities. All procedures performed at our local field clinics are the responsibility of the licensed Vida Veterinarian in charge of the clinic. Participants are not liable for any procedures or surgical outcomes. A licensed bilingual veterinarian will perform the surgical procedures.

What will I be doing in Intake?

You will receive training and supervision in the Intake area from our licensed bilingual veterinarians. Skills that will be learned or enhanced include the following: Basic patient physical exams and assessments, vital signs, catheter placement, sedation techniques, anesthesia induction, intubation, and proper surgical preparation.


Veterinary program volunteers are allowed to observe and assist the bilingual licensed veterinarian in charge of the surgery at this station. The surgical experience will consist of one based one your skill and experience which will be assessed by the licensed bilingual veterinary professional who will be supervising you. Skills that will be learned or enhanced include feline and canine anatomy, ovariohysterectomy and pre-scrotal neuter technique surgical skills, instrument identification and handling, suture skills and different suturing patterns proper sanitation and sterilization of surgical instruments in field clinics, as well as biohazard waste control techniques. Volunteers will have the opportunity to assist the veterinarian in surgery and participate in monitoring anesthesia and vital signs while documenting the surgery in the medical chart. This is an amazing chance to gain invaluable experience to help prepare you for a career in veterinary medicine and at the same time, help animals in need.

What will I do in Recovery?

You will rotate through this station to provide continuity of care to your patients. This station is dedicated to monitoring and documenting patient recovery. You will learn and enhance your skills in removing catheters, proper ex-tubation techniques, de-worming, nail trimming and ear cleaning all under the direct supervision of our licensed bilingual veterinarians. You will also assist in filling prescriptions for the take home analgesics and antibiotics for your patients according to Vida protocols. As the final step you will discharge the patient and give post-op care instructions to the owner with the help of our staff.

Other Opportunities

  • Large animal field work –Volunteers will participate in de-worming and vitamin therapy for livestock in needy communities (cows, horses, donkeys, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, etc).
  • Public Health education-Help to educate community members and local school children regarding animal welfare and about responsible pet ownership. Many people are still hesitant about spaying/neutering their pets, especially in indigenous communities; therefore part of our mission is to help educate the communities on the benefits of castration.
  • Visits to local wildlife rescue centers (when available).

Minimum qualifications

  • Participants in this program should be advanced veterinary students who have completed their small animal surgical laboratories. Recent veterinary graduate students and volunteer veterinarians with less than three years of experience will also be included in this category of volunteers.
  • Volunteers are required to submit a letter of recommendation from their small animal surgical laboratory professor or proof that you have completed this course in order to be accepted. Vida will provide a form for your professor or counselor to sign. Veterinarians should submit a copy of their license along with their application in order to obtain local required permits.

Find your trip today

Find yor trip
  • Airport pick up and drop off.
  • All transportation between sites.
  • Accommodations with host families and/or hotels
  • Meals included specified in the Sample Itinerary tab.
  • 2 Full day of in- country orientation and vet manual.
  • 2 24 hour staff assistance.
  • 2 All medicine, equipment, supplies, and professionals needed to successfully complete clinics.
  • 2 Evening group activities.
  • 2 Some recreational activities.
  • 2 Border and customs fees.
  • 2 Statement of volunteer service hours. (Letters of recommendation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis).
  • 2 Post adventure follow- up.

This price does not include:

  • Airfare.
  • Airport exit tax (varies between countries).
  • Personal spending money.
  • Academic credit.
  • Some recreational opportunities.
  • Laundry.
  • Telephone or internet access.
  • (Optional for bus drivers). Tips

*B= Breakfast/ L=Lunch/ D= Dinner
Meals will be covered by Vida Volunteer when the word Vida is next to either one of the initials B, L, D. The Volunteer will take care of the other meals as shown in the itinerary. 

Your donation will bring us one step closer to our vision: Healthier communities!

We encourage all volunteers to gather monetary donations or help us with the items listed below. Please keep in mind that Vida will NOT accept any types of medication or any other item not listed.

  • Collars.
  • Leashes.
  • Exam gloves (not expired).
  • Sterile gloves (not expired).
  • Heating Pads.
  • Headlamps.
  • Electric Razors.

Volunteers should engage community members, church members, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, local physicians, dentists and vets in assisting them with gathering these donations. This is a great way to gain support and understanding from your community as to the needs of those in Central America. Don’t underestimate the value of clothing, shoes, baby items, stickers, bubbles, toys, crayons, coloring books, etc. for the children at the clinics. If anyone would like to make a financial contribution, they can do so on the PayPal pageon our website.

Group Donations

Vida is in great need of intake and tool chests, which we utilize in our mobile clinics for General Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine. We ask that you please bring 2 of each of these boxes as donations on your upcoming Vida adventure. You can fill them with donations, and check them as luggage with your airline. These boxes can be bought at hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot for between $50 and $80 each.

Vida is an official 501c3 organization in the U.S and all contributions to Vida will be tax-deductible.