Dog Sanctuary &
Wildlife Rescue

Go behind-the-scenes at one of the most famous stray dog sanctuaries in the world, home to over 1,800 former strays.

During your week in the picturesque mountains of Costa Rica, you’ll learn about typical stray animal care procedures, practice your clinical skills, and enjoy daily walks with the dogs.

Prepare for the future

Land of the Strays has been rescuing stray dogs for over 15 years. They offer free spay & neuter surgeries for their rescued animals and help them find forever homes with families around Costa Rica. During your time at the sanctuary, you can look forward to:
  • Participating in clinical lab rotations to practice skills like using the microscope to conduct ear & skin cytologies activities
  • Creating post-surgery care plans for dogs recovering from procedures, including spay and neuter surgeries
  • Performing diagnostic testing to ensure the safety and well-being of all animals in recovery

By attending Dog Sanctuary & Wildlife Rescue, you can earn up to 40 veterinary hours, a required part of every vet school application.

2024 Program Dates & Tuition

  • 8 Days
  • July 6–July 13
  • $5,595

What’s Included

Authentic, local meals

Comfortable Accommodations

10:1 Teaching Vet-to-Student Ratio

Up to 40 veterinary hours

Round trip airfare*

*Roundtrip airfare from the designated international airport hub is included. Any travel costs from your location to that hub are not included.

Program Highlights

Lecture & Lab Rotations

Rotating through different activities in small groups, you’ll practice clinical skills including safe handling and restraint, canine anatomy, injection and catheter placement, and proper surgery prep techniques.

Cultural Immersion

After a full day of learning, you can look forward to a fun, culturally enriching group activity, from taking a dance lesson with a local instructor to a Spanish trivia game to an art project inspired by the motifs of Costa Rica.

Spay and Neuter Project

On your final program day, you will assist the clinic veterinarians and professional staff to provide a free spay and neuter clinic for the pets of local community members.

Wildlife Rescue Visit

You’ll spend one full day visiting the Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center, a rehabilitation center and sanctuary for injured wildlife. Rescate takes in over 2,700 wild animals every year, from jaguars and sloths to birds and reptiles.

Your Adventure, Day by Day

Day 1

Arrival in Houston

  • Registration at a hotel nearby the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Group introductions and welcome dinner

Day 2

Journey to Costa Rica

  • Group flight with chaperone from IAH to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Introduction to teaching veterinary staff
  • Orientation and welcome dinner

Day 3

Welcome to the Land of the Strays

  • Orientation and group hike through sanctuary grounds
  • Lecture & Lab Rotation I
    • Safe Handling and Restraint Technique practice
    • Anatomy and Directional Terminology
    • Small Animal Behavior
  • Cultural art project

Day 4

Domesticated Animal Care

  • Lecture & Lab Rotation II
    • Practice physical exams & taking stray history
    • Ear and skin cytology
    • Injection & catheter placement lab
    • Diagnostic techniques review
  • Dance lessons

Day 5

Rescate Rescue Center

  • Full day visit to the Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center, including:
    • Tour of center
    • Case study scenarios
    • Suture techniques and practice
  • Stop at a scenic waterfall on return to San Jose
  • Spanish trivia game

Day 6

Hike with Dogs

  • Lecture & Lab Rotation III
    • Health physiology and heartworm
    • Hike with dogs
    • Hematology and surgery prep lab
  • Game night

Day 7

Spay and Neuter Project

  • Spay and neuter project day
  • Trip evaluations and farewell dinner

Day 8


Please Note: The events included in this itinerary are subject to minor changes before your program.

Image Gallery

What some of our students and their parents are saying…

Dr. Marisa was such a good teacher and vet. She worked with all of us as individuals and I truly felt she cared.”

This was the best, life changing experience. I loved the staff and other students. Overall, I learned many useful skills.”

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For the safety of students, staff, and animals, not all animals may be touched or handled by participants. The teaching veterinarian and other professional staff members will advise students of the proper time, place, and method to handle animals when it is safe to do so.