Animal Care Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary
Want to volunteer with dogs as a group of 3 or more on an Animal Care project in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Animal Care project places volunteers in a shelter that houses up to 200 stray and abandoned dogs. Volunteers gain experience looking after animals while providing the dogs with human companionship, medical treatment and everyday care with the goal of helping them find loving homes.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from AU$579 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, daily breakfast, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Exercise, play with, groom and feed abandoned dogs
Enjoy Jamaica’s laid-back vibe and fascinating culture
Stay in a volunteer house near James Bond Beach in St Mary
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
For many Jamaicans living in low-income communities, food is scarce and cannot be spared to feed animals, even pets. This means many animals, especially dogs, are abandoned on the streets and left to fend for themselves. With this lack of food and care they often end up ill or injured. Volunteers can help address this issue by assisting at dog shelters that care for hundreds of dogs at a time. The aim is to rehabilitate the dogs and give them the best chance of being rehomed.
As an Animal Care volunteer, you’ll provide much valued human company, as well as medical treatment and general care to ensure these dogs, many of whom have been abandoned, are fully taken care of. You’ll assist shelter staff with:
- Cleaning the shelter
- Feeding the dogs
- Training, walking and playing with the animals
- Shelter maintenance and upkeep
- Rescue missions for street dogs
- The rehoming process
Many dogs are adopted by families from overseas, and you’re also able to help to create online profiles for dogs so this can happen. Volunteers who are training or qualified veterinarians may also have the chance to perform small procedures such as cleaning and dressing wounds.
Local staff will help to guide you in these tasks, and all dogs are vaccinated.
The project typically takes place in the morning, from 8am until noon and you will be welcome to continue volunteering in the afternoon.
Why do Animal Care volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?
When you volunteer with dogs in Jamaica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Helping care for and rehome stray and abandoned animals
- Support local initiatives
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining animal care experience
- Immersing yourself in the Jamaican way of life
- Discovering the relaxed beauty of Ochos Rios
- This project only accepts volunteers traveling in groups of 3 or more
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Jamaica photo gallery
”I recently volunteered in Jamaica and I can not be more thankful for the experience! I volunteered with animals, and at first even though I was nervous to be the only one on my project I had the best time. I felt as if I was really able to help and make a difference in the short time I was there. I wouldn't trade the experiences or friendships I gained for a...nything in the world. I am already planning my next trip! If you have any desire to do so, please just go and take the trip! You will NOT regret it.” read more
Read reviews from Animal Care volunteers in St MarySee more reviews
On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.
Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are travelling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.
Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.
Volunteer schedule example
You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.
You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:
|7:30 AM||Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.|
|8:00 AM||Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.|
|12:00 PM||Break for lunch.|
|1:00 PM||Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.|
|3:30 PM||You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, go sightseeing or do some shopping.|
With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.
The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like James Bond Beach; the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.
The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.
Accommodation and WiFi
You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.
Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.
A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.
For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between US$5 (approximately AU$7) and US$25 (approximately AU$36) per meal.
For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for US$65 (approximately AU$95) per week. You can arrange this at your program orientation and pay for it through the local team in Jamaica. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please speak with the team in Jamaica about any requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.
Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||AU$579 Equivalent to AU$83/day|
|2 weeks||AU$1048 Equivalent to AU$75/day|
|3 weeks||AU$1465 Equivalent to AU$70/day|
|4 weeks||AU$1869 Equivalent to AU$67/day|
|5 weeks||AU$2257 Equivalent to AU$65/day|
|6 weeks||AU$2631 Equivalent to AU$63/day|
|8 weeks||AU$3357 Equivalent to AU$60/day|
- Daily Breakfast
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of AU$438 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$250 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches and dinners, and local tours and activities.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
The Blue Hole is located in St Ann, Jamaica, and is a perfect 2.5 hour excursion for outdoor adventure enthusiasts looking to spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.
This excursion cost US$46 (approximately AU$67) per person and is available on the first and second Tuesday of each month. This fee includes your entrance fee, transportation, a locker, and a personal guide for your 2.5 hour visit.
The Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon experience is a 4.5 hour tour where you will visit the historical caves of Green Grotto once home to the first inhabitants of the island. You’ll participate in a guided tour of these caves and then enjoy lunch at a local famous jerk chicken hot spot. After lunch your tour will continue with a swim in the glowing water of Luminous Lagoon, one of only a few like it in the world. This natural wonder offers a once in a lifetime experience.
This excursion costs US$98 (approximately AU$143) per person which includes your entrance fee, transportation, lunch, boat tour and a personal guide for your 4.5 hour visit.
The Kingston city tour is not one you’ll want to miss! On this 5 hour guided tour, you’ll dance through Kingston - known as the city of music, discover the home of the iconic Bob Marley. Followed by a trip to the historic Devon House home of Jamaica’s first Black Millionaire. Driving around Kingston you will see the hustle and bustle of the city and the heart of Reggae music.
This excursion costs US$85 (approximately AU$124) per person and includes your entrance fee to the Bob Marley museum, transportation, and lunch.
Learn the latest Jamaican dance moves with a local reggae professional during a reggae dance class with your fellow volunteers!
This activity costs US$20 (approximately AU$29) per person and the dance class will take 1.5 hours to complete.
Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert alongside your fellow volunteers; you’ll be sure to impress everyone back home!
This activity costs US$20 (approximately AU$29) per person and includes a professional instructor, ingredients, and a complimentary beverage for the cooking class which will take 2.5 hours to complete.
Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to sign up or to get more information about any of these activities and tours.
Check what's required to visit Jamaica
Check out the widget below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Jamaica, based on your country of residence.
Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Jamaican Dollar (JMD)|
Weather and climate
The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.