Volunteer Work with Township Cats and Dogs – Animal Conservation

Animal Rescue Centre with Veterinary Services

A Volunteer caring for dogs
A Volunteer caring for dogs

Make a difference for the lives of township dogs and cats in need as a volunteer at the animal rescue centre in Cape Town. Of course this animal rescue program is a perfect fit for veterinary students, but anyone who loves animals and wants to help, is welcome. Volunteers can even do a great job with marketing, website developing or renovating the remises.

The animal centres mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home domestic animals, as well as provide veterinary services to the poorer local communities. The centre aims to care for animals in the poor township who suffered from being abandoned, abuse or neglection.

After rescuing the dogs and cats in the neighborhood, you can assist the centre’s team while applying the best veterinary and animal behavioural practices. Finally, the team prepares the animals for adoption into new homes.

The centre also plays a vital role in re-uniting lost animals with their guardians and carries out veterinary outreach and humane education in low income areas.

Veterinary Assistants focus on Sterilizations and Treatment of Injured Animals

This pro-quality life centre has a full-time veterinarian on site and veterinary assistants who focus on sterilizations and treatment of injured animals. The feral cat project sterilizes over 300 cats alone a month. One of the core aims of the onsite clinic is to control the unwanted births of dogs and cats in low-income areas, and sterilisation of all treated animals is mandatory. Sterilisation drives, including door-to-door canvassing, have resulted in fewer unwanted puppies and kittens. The clinic staff operate two Mobile Clinic vans that, on a pre-arranged schedule, serve the low-income areas offering primary healthcare for animals in these communities as well as free sterilisations, which is carried out at the centres hospital.

This centre is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected, abused, and unwanted homeless animals and being a volunteer means being the best part of a homeless animal’s day!

  • The Rescue Team in Action
    The Rescue Team in Action

Highlights of your Volunteer Trip

  • Help cats and dogs get proper healthcare
  • Aid injured animals with their recovery.
  • Help the Vets in the clinic
  • Assist animal welfare officers with mobile clinics in townships
  • Participate in animal rescues (We’d be very happy for assistance from the volunteers however feral cat rescues happen in the evening not during the day also, on weekend.)
  • Assist with animal adoption
  • Assist with animal stimulation

Your Role as an Animal Volunteer or Veterinary Intern

As a volunteer you will receive exposure to a vast variety of cases that you would not normally be exposed to in private practice, making a great working for potential veterinarians, vet nurses, animal welfare officers or companion animals enthusiasts.

As a volunteer you will assist with:

  • Assist at the centres hospital – prepping animals for surgery
  • On mobile units, you can help the animal welfare officers
  • Caring for animals in recovery and ensuring their environment is hygienic
  • Marketing, fundraising and public relations assistance
  • Helping with day to day running of the clinic/hospital
  • Assist with animal husbandry and feeding
  • Cat and kitten socialisation
  • General maintenance, such as gardening, building and painting
  • Please take note that volunteers may not perform any surgical procedures or diagnose animals.

We would welcome volunteers with the following experience:

  • ANYONE who loves animals
  • Veterinary qualification
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Website development and electronic newsletters
  • Building, painting and project management



Day 1 (Monday) – hello and welcome!

Arrive at Cape Town International Airport (airport code CPT) a member of our team will meet you at the airport and taken to our volunteer house in Fish Hoek. You’ll need to arrive before 4.15pm so that you’re in time for orientation at 5pm. The journey from the airport to Fish Hoek takes about 45 minutes and you’ll see the magnificent Table Mountain on the way! Orientation will take you through what you can expect from your project, dos and don’ts and how to stay safe. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any burning questions you’ve got. Afterwards you can relax and prepare before your first day at the project.

Note: If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Cape Town before 4.15pm then we recommend you fly in a day early. We can arrange an early airport pickup for you including one night’s accommodation. Please give us a call for more information.

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Meet the Team at the centre!

This morning our team will be on hand to make sure you know where you’re going and get you settled. You’ll head off to the centre to meet the dedicated staff and volunteers. The centre is always super excited to have someone fresh and ready to help

Days 3 to 5 (Wednesday to Friday) – get stuck in!

You’ll start getting to know how the centre runs, you will be shown the ropes by the dedicated staff and volunteers. The cats and dogs are on different sites – however very close to each other.

Days 6 and 7 (Saturday to Sunday) – it’s the weekend!

Spend your free time as you please. Cape Town offers so much to do. There are loads of stunning beaches to choose from, where you can get a tan and relax. Or you could visit the city, climb Table Mountain, check out a penguin colony, go wine tasting or pop in to the many fascinating museums and art galleries. Alternatively you could just chill at the volunteer house in the garden or around the swimming pool.

Following weeks – keep up the good work!

Your weekdays will be spent assisting in the clinic, working in the community with the mobile clinic, feeding, cleaning, walking dogs. You’ll learn more about the community and can even get involved in fundraising or other activities. And any extra time you spend at the centre is always much appreciated.

Your last day (Monday) – goodbye, we’ll miss you!

It will be sad to say goodbye to your newfound friends but you’ll have so many special memories to take back with you. The return transfer from Fish Hoek to Cape Town International is not covered within your project fee but our regular transfer company will be able to organise the journey. Budget around £25/R350.

About the Dogs and Cats Rescue Project in Cape Town

When three ladies visited the local township over twenty years ago, they wanted to help the dogs and cats, which they found in a desperate state. So the ladeis planted the seeds for the animal care centre with a bucket of tick dip and a packet of de-worming tablets.

After this initial and spontaneous first aid, the ladies to began to their dream into practice. They started an organisation that would alleviate the suffering of the animals they were trying to help, but on a much larger and more effective scale.

At this time the plight of domestic animals in the area had reached a crisis point. Mange was rife and many animals were skeletal – their guardians living in abject poverty, sometimes unable to feed themselves. De-worming, vaccinations and sterilisation were unheard of. Female dogs suffered from malnutrition and were unable to feed their puppies; many died.

The ladies started a clinic in 1999, treating animals for fleas, mange and tick infestation. They handed food parcels out, and identified animals needing veterinary attention. Sterilisations were treated by local vets. While working in the poorer areas the ladies began to accumulate unwanted and stray animals and desperately needed facilities in which to house them. They began by renting kennels for their rescued dogs. Cats, kittens and puppies were housed at the one of the founder’s homes. The centre was later able to move to rented premises and has grown into an established and sustainable non-profit organisation.




Start Dates & Duration

Our animal conservation volunteer programs in South Africa start on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.

Therefore, you should plan to arrive before 4:15pm. If you can’t make it, we suggest you fly in a day early. We can arrange airport pickup and extra night of accommodation.

  • Project duration:  2 to 12 weeks.
  • Location of project: Cape Town
  • Arrival airport: Cape Town International, South Africa.
  • Working hours: 5 days per week Monday to Friday 08h00 until 16h00
  • Getting to the project: Short mini bus taxi ride caught straight outside volunteer house
  • Shared dormitory room in volunteer house, same sex rooms
  • Food is not included. You will need to purchase your own food (budget approximately US$50 per week)




Fees – Animal Rescue Program

  • The program fee is paid directly to the host organization.
  • All of the projects incur a registration fee of  U$ 149.00 on top of the program fee.

Prices 2019

What is included in the volunteer program fee?

  • Airport pickup: Included on the arrival day before 16h15
  • Please note:  Worm Tablets to be taken before arrival
  • Orientation
  • Accommodation for all projects
  • Meals are included in most programs (please check the description of your chosen project)
  • Support from local staff & Program supervision
  • In-country 24/7 support throughout your stay
  • In-country administration costs
  • Donation to support the local project

What is not included in the program fee

  • You will need to organise: Flights, insurance, visa’s, return airport transfer

There are no hidden costs. Most of these projects are the most affordable to volunteer in South Africa.

Iko Poran is an NGO based in a developing country. We are dedicated to helping you help others, at the lowest possible price. We are interested in making volunteering abroad more accessible so that more people can help do really important work.

Participants in our South Africa programs normally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses in the country.

The program fee should be paid to the host country and it is due 30 days before the project start date.


Accommodation & Meals

  • Volunteer House - on the Terrace
    Volunteer House - on the Terrace
  • Comfortable shared accommodation in a volunteer house with shared facilities.
  • Couples and single rooms can be accommodated upon request and availability.
  • Food: Excluded. Volunteers buy and prepare their own meals

Our large volunteer house in Fish Hoek will be your happy home for this trip. It accommodates up to 20 people (our volunteers only) in dormitory-style, same sex rooms with bunk beds, a maximum of six people per room. There are three bathrooms with hot, running water, showers and regular flush loos. There’s also a lounge area, balcony, lush garden and barbeque. You’ll be only a short distance from the shops and beach. You’ll find lockers at the accommodation to lock your valuables away but please remember to bring a padlock and keys with you! You’ll need to pay R1000 deposit when you arrive which will be given back to you when you leave if everything’s still as you found it.


You’ll be self-catering while in the house. The kitchen has everything you need from cookers, loads of fridge space and microwave to toaster, kettle and kitchen utensils. You can eat at the dining room table or lounge on the balcony. There’s a barbeque outside or, as we call it in SA, a braai, which is the best way to cook on a warm evening. You can also grab
takeaways at the many spots in the town, about 10 minutes’ walk away.
Note: While in the house you will be responsible for keeping the place clean so please tidy up after yourself, especially in the kitchen. Budget around US$50 per week for groceries, as prices are similar to home.

Facilities and the area

There’s a phone at the house for incoming calls, and buy local phone cards to make outbound phone calls.
Washing can be done at the laundry down the road: simply drop off your clothes and pick them up later!
Cape Town has a temperate climate but winter is still chilly so pack warm jumpers and even some cosy socks as SA doesn’t have central heating.
Bedding is provided but bring a sleeping bag for away weekends and extra warmth.
Bring along a towel

The Neighborhood

Fish Hoek’s main street is only10 minutes’ walk away where you’ll find a supermarket, serviced laundry and internet café, as well as banks and other shopping. The beach is just a stone’s throw beyond that!
Bars, restaurants, more shopping and more beautiful beaches are only 10 minute’s drive away.
Fish Hoek is on the train line and trains are a great way to travel but they stop running at 7pm.
Taxis to Cape Town CBD cost around US$35/ R250 each way.



Requirements for Animal Volunteers

You must be at least 18 years old at the start of your placement.

All participants in our volunteer in South Africa programs must have adequate travel insurance and are required to provide a criminal background check to local staff on arrival in South Africa or during orientation,

Treat animals and humans with respect.

Most importantly, pack in energy, a positive attitude, love in your heart and a spring in your step!

Some projects also have specific requirements, therefore please check the description of your chosen program.

Language Skills required to volunteer in South Africa

Fluency in English is required in all the projects.


You will have competent support and advice from the local team and project leaders. Someone will always be available in the case of any emergency. Please keep in mind that you are in a different country and should take some precautions to avoid exposing yourself to certain risks.

The local coordinators will give you all the information to have a safe and unforgettable experience.


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South Africa Volunteer Programs

Learn more about all the work away opportunities in South Africa here.

There are many fascinating opportunities for wildlife volunteers: In Cape Town you can choose whether to go for a marine biology internship at the Aquarium, or to help abandoned cats and dogs in a township. Moreover, close to Port Elizabeth volunteers take care of injured or orphaned wildlife.

Volunteering with animal conservation

You may also have a look at the Wildlife Volunteering Projects, with all the volunteer programs with animals.

For instance, you can volunteer with elephants in Thailand.

More volunteer abroad opportunities

Find an overview with all our highly affordable volunteer programs on our home page!