street animals in india

India is a place of wonder; a colorful and vibrant land of stunning mountains, glorious beaches, bustling cities, and amazing architecture.

It’s also a country where life is incredibly hard for the millions living below the poverty line.

The plight of people in India is immensely saddening, and tourists who are passionate about animals will also find they’re confronted by the sight of the hundreds of dogs, cats and “holy” cows that roam India’s streets as strays.

That’s before considering the numerous donkeys, horses, and camels used as draft animals, all of whom live in difficult conditions on the streets of villages and cities around the country.

For animal-loving tourists who wish to combine their India trip with a worthy cause, several animal rescue organizations and veterinary hospitals happily open their doors to volunteers.

Animal rescue in India is a huge task, and the labor of tourists who can give their time and love to benefit animals will also make the demanding jobs of these inspiring animal rescuers easier.

On that note, let’s dive into this charitable India travel guide.

Psst, don’t forget to pin this post for later!

street animals in india

Helping Street Animals In India

While there are many easy ways to volunteer from home that are worthwhile, volunteering with animal rescue organizations is a fantastic way to combine giving back with sightseeing.

The opportunities to do this exist all over the county.

By helping street animals in India, you can learn about the culture, gain insight into the lives of India’s people and cuddle some of the planet’s sweetest creatures.

street animals in India
Street animals in India. Photo via Simon/Pixabay.

1. WVS Hicks ITC (Assagao, Goa)

Nestled in the forest of northern Goa, a popular travel destination, is an area known as Assagao. Here you’ll find WVS Hicks ITC.

WVS Hicks ITC, an animal hospital and rescue center, trains international and domestic vets in best recommended practices for animal birth control surgeries.

The organization is responsible for a range of animal welfare projects including the mass vaccination of all dogs against rabies, conducting spay-neuter clinics for free-roaming dogs and cats, and rescue and treatment for injured, old and juvenile dogs and cats.

A low-cost clinic run at the Hicks provides treatment for several infectious diseases and trauma cases including mange, healing animals involved in traffic accidents, and treatment for cancer.

The project is aimed at providing optimum animal welfare, humanely controlling the stray dog and cat population, and actively encouraging community care of the healthy free roaming animals

cow on a beach
A holy cow on a beach in Goa. Photo via 3dman_eu/Pixabay.

Volunteering At WVS Hicks ITC

Visitors to Goa — with or without a veterinary background — can volunteer with WVS Hicks ITC.

Tourists are able to walk the many dogs who are brought to the hospital to have their wounds and medical conditions treated.

You could also devote yourself entirely to entertaining the numerous puppies and kittens housed at the hospital awaiting sterilization and vaccination, and who are just waiting for cuddles and pats!

There are even sometimes opportunities for volunteers to work with macaque monkeys who have been rescued from situations detrimental to their welfare, including the tradition of monkey dancing, which is intended to entertain tourists but which causes untold suffering to these small primates.

But a word of warning — the monkeys can be very cheeky, and you will need to have your wits about you!

Contact WVS Hicks ITC staff about volunteer opportunities via the WVS global website or call +91 832 226 8272.

Want to help #animals in #India? #Volunteer with one of these great projects! Click To Tweet
street animals in India
Volunteers at WVS Hicks ITC taking notes on the health of a puppy. Photo via Nikki Savvides.

2. Help In Suffering (Jaipur, Rajasthan).

Help in Suffering, in the tranquil Maharani Farm area of south Jaipur, is an animal hospital that cares for street dogs and cats as well as horses and camels who suffer from overwork on the streets of the city.

The hospital was founded in 1980 by Crystal Rogers, an English woman who, after witnessing a lame cart horse being eaten alive by crows, decided to move to India specifically to help animals in need.

With a dedicated team of vets, technicians and nursing staff, along with volunteers, Help in Suffering operates anti-rabies, animal birth control (spay/neuter), rescue and re-homing programs.

They have developed a unique, effective way of managing the stray dog population humanely.

Before Help in Suffering was founded, the primary way in which the stray dog population was ‘managed’ in Jaipur was through strychnine poisoning, a terrible way for dogs to die and unsuccessful in reducing the population.

Today, Help in Suffering spay/neuters and vaccinates 70 dogs a week.

After they recover, they are returned to the streets, where they are monitored by both Help in Suffering and members of the local communities.

Help in Suffering also operates a highly successful Camel Project, founded in 2001, which provides veterinary services for camels and their owners, who are generally very poor people who struggle to care for their animals.

This is an incredibly important project and makes an enormous difference to camels who struggle to pull heavy loads through the insane traffic and heat of the city.

As well as a treatment center at the Maharani Farm location, the Camel Project also operates in the rural area of Bassi about half an hour from Jaipur.

camel pulling a cart
A camel on the streets of Jaipur. Photo via Nikki Savvides.

Volunteering At Help In Suffering

Visitors and volunteers are welcome at Help in Suffering and can assist staff with a number of different tasks.

Preference is given to volunteers with veterinary experience, but anyone who has experience caring for animals can be helpful.

Work undertaken by volunteers involves caring for street dogs and helping with other tasks such as feeding animals.

Learn more about volunteering, including the logistics of getting to the center, at Help in Suffering’s website.

Check out these incredible projects helping street #animals in #India! #volunteer Click To Tweet

3. Assist At Animal Aid (Udaipur, Rajasthan)

Based in the hillside of picturesque Badi Village is Animal Aid Unlimited, an animal hospital which encourages tourists to come volunteer with stray dogs and cats, holy cows and numerous donkeys.

Animal Aid Unlimited was set up in 2002 by American expats Jim and Erika Abrams, who wanted to make a difference for the animals of India.

Along with their daughter Claire and a hugely dedicated team of locals, the Abrams care for hundreds of animals each year.

Their rescue team saves animals from a variety of predicaments, encourages community care for animals, and is especially focused on rescuing and healing animals that have been injured while living on the streets.

white cow at Animal Aid Unlimited
Erika, Claire and Jim Abrams – Animal Aid Unlimited’s founding family. Photo via Animal Aid Unlimited.

Volunteering At Animal Aid

Volunteers can contribute to the running of Animal Aid Unlimited in numerous ways.

You may spend your day giving love to the rehabilitating dogs, bottle-feeding orphaned cows or brushing and caring for donkeys and other animals.

For those who truly want to get their hands dirty, volunteers can also help staff groom and wash dogs that may be suffering from mange or infested with ticks and fleas.

Volunteers are welcome at Animal Aid every day between 9am and 5pm.

The best time to arrive is between 9am and 12pm. After a tour of the site you can jump right in and start helping the animals.

The best way to get to Animal Aid from Udaipur is by auto rickshaw.

Read all about what it’s like to visit and volunteer at Animal Aid Unlimited from a first hand perspective.

For information about volunteering, visit the Animal Aid website.

Here's how you can #getinvolved and help street #animals in #India! Click To Tweet
street animals in India
A cow and her calf at Animal Aid Unlimited. Photo via Nikki Savvides.

There are several other animal rescue centers and animal hospitals in India that happily take in volunteers:

4. Animals Matter to Me (Mumbai, Maharashta): An animal hospital and sanctuary in the middle of India’s biggest city. Here, volunteers will mainly work with stray dogs and cats.

5. Welfare of Stray Dogs (Mumbai, Maharashta): A rescue organization specifically focused on managing Mumbai’s stray dog population humanely through medical treatment, rabies vaccinations, and spay and neuter programs.

6. Paws Thrissur (Kerala): An organization in a coastal town primarily involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of stray dogs.

Have you ever volunteered with street animals in India? Share your story in the comments below! 

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Nikki Savvides

Nikki Savvides is an intrepid traveler passionate about animals, the environment and ethical tourism. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies. Her thesis studied the work of conservation, ecotourism and animal welfare projects at a number of sites across Asia.

Nikki is currently working on research about elephant welfare and conservation in Thailand, with a specific focus on the devastating effects that deforestation has had on a marginalized indigenous group with a 900-year ancestry working with elephants.

When she's not travelling, Nikki runs her editing business, The Word Wizard, from Sydney, Australia.

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  1. Currently in India and hoping to adopt a dog from a rescue centre and bring it back to the UK. Can anyone recommend a shelter that will assist me? Thanks

    1. Where in India are you ?

    2. I brought a dog back from Malaysia to the UK. If you are still requiring any help, let me know any i might be able to advise

    3. Hey Kirsten,
      Next time you are in India do visit Sophie Memorial Animal Relief Trust. They are a non profit trust run by a couple. They have saved hundreds of animals and are always hopeful that some guardian angels will definitely give their beautiful rescues a second chance at happy life.

  2. Hi I was in India recently and saw many stray dogs with those sad puppy eyes…very sad indeed that just tells you all about how they feel!
    Is it possible to get these dogs rescued and adopted around the world…most likely Canada and USA.
    I will try and help any way I can as I reside in Canada.

    1. Hi Shelly, There is an organization called Fur Warriors. They are in in Ontario I believe. They help to rehabilitate street dogs in Egypt and India and bring them to Canada to be adopted.

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