Central to the organization’s work is providing excellent veterinary care to a range of animals, from dogs to different species of bird. As a veterinary intern, you’ll play a role in delivering and expanding this crucial service.

During the placement, you’ll get to know many of the 100 animals that inhabit the sanctuary. Your main tasks will include helping to diagnose the animals’ illnesses/medical conditions by giving physical exams, administering injections, treating wounds and other problems, as well as helping to decide on treatments for unwell animals. You’ll be supported by experienced vets and veterinary nurses who will show you the ropes, but over the course of the internship, you’ll build the skills and confidence to carry out some tasks independently.

Learning objectives:

  • Gain a wealth of experience and expertise in veterinary care to add to your portfolio of work
  • Develop a good understanding of the animals native to Portugal and how to protect them against external dangers
  • Build the skills and confidence needed to work independently, making decisions to best support the welfare of the animals
  • Learn how to work in an international team within the nonprofit sector


SOS Animal is driven to improve animal welfare throughout Portugal and beyond. They have a main office, as well as a veterinary hospital in Lisbon which are open to the public and members of SOS Animal. They have recently set up an animal sanctuary in the Santarém region of Portugal, which will be home to a rich variety of native animals and plant species.

The organization offers free veterinary care to animals from low-income and vulnerable households and has set up a successful animal sterilization program whereby they have performed over 3000 sterilizations. They have also found new homes for over 600 rescued animals and have given almost 10,000 free veterinary consultations to families in need.

Alongside providing medical treatment and care to animals, the organization aims to share important information relating to animal welfare and environmental issues impacting flora and fauna more widely. They do this through the dissemination of studies, running clarification sessions and hosting lectures and other educational activities. This nonprofit also contributes scientific research and data to help manage communities of stray animals, and promote initiatives aimed at improving animal welfare across the public and private sectors.


You will be based at the sanctuary where horses, goats, sheep, chickens, chinchillas, rabbits, turkeys, dogs, cats, and many other animals live peacefully, free from harm or mistreatment. With a team of experienced vets and veterinary nurses, you will provide veterinary care to these animals.


The main tasks for interns on this program will be:

  • Look after and monitor the animals in the sanctuary
  • Help to diagnose the animals’ illnesses by performing physical exams
  • Help to treat the animals, including administering injections, treating wounds, and advising on courses of treatment
  • Whenever possible, accompany the animals to the clinic in Lisbon and monitor surgeries and other complex situations
  • Be part of the decision making process to support animal welfare for the different species living in the sanctuary
  • All interns assist with general work and at the start of the internship there will be an orientation program with basic skills (taking care of animals, cleaning, etc.)


  • A background in veterinary care, biology, animal behavior, or a related area
  • Share the organization’s core values, demonstrating the desire to contribute to this unique project in Portugal
  • In good physical and mental condition
  • Be able to efficiently work collaboratively
  • Proficient understanding of English
  • Minimum age of 20 years old


You will stay at the sanctuary in Santarém, where there is a house with the choice of single or shared bedrooms. The house includes all furnishings, bed linen, a shared kitchen where you can prepare your meals, communal areas, as well as an outdoor pool for you to enjoy. The accommodation has access to Wifi and a cleaning service is included. You can buy groceries in the local town or order from an online supermarket for delivery.

Safety & Support

Safety & Support

Portugal is considered a very safe destination for travel. Crime rates are low, but pickpocketing and handbag snatches do occur in tourist destinations. Make sure to visit your doctor and dentist for a check-up before your internship and to get all the recommended vaccines and/or medications necessary to stay healthy.



Free Wifi is available at your accommodation to stay in touch with family and friends while abroad.



The accommodation is self-catering and meals are not included in the fee. The consumption of meat and fish is not allowed in the sanctuary. You can order food from an online supermarket which will be delivered to the sanctuary.

Location details

Location details

The nearest city is 5 km from the sanctuary and you are welcome to take one of the sanctuary’s bicycles to explore the surroundings. Santarém is on a plateau, situated on the bank of the River Tagus, a picturesque area surrounded by hills and wheat fields. Located in the middle of the river, is the fairy-tale Castelo de Almourol, arguably one of Europe’s most beautiful castles.


Fee Breakdown

Internships are available from January until November. They have fixed start and end dates (generally twice a month), which will be discussed with you during the selection process.

What you’ll pay (2024 fees)

4 weeks EUR 1,318

8 weeks EUR 2,035

12 weeks EUR 2,751

16 weeks EUR 3,468

20 weeks EUR 4,185

26 weeks EUR 5,261


  • Careful matchmaking. It takes time to find the right internship for each person, and we take this process very seriously.
  • Initial interview with one of our team to gauge your skills, interests, and desired learning outcomes.
  • An academic internship eligible for university credit. Check with your university to confirm if this internship qualifies for credit or alternatively we can assist you with purchasing transfer credits.
  • Accommodation based on a shared room (up to 4 pax). If you prefer a single room, please contact us for availability and prices.
  • Wifi access
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement and other preparations
  • An orientation program with your supervisor
  • Supervision and support during your stay
  • Regular check-ins during your internship with your supervisor
  • Troubleshooting if needed
  • A reference letter at the end of your internship


  • Flights to Lisbon
  • Transfer from the airport to the sanctuary (less than one hour by car)
  • Visa and medical/travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Meals, drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing)
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities


Some of our most commonly asked questions for programs in Portugal.

What can I expect from an internship in Portugal?

You can expect to immerse yourself in the local way of life, potentially working on your Portuguese language skills, while collaborating with a diverse and welcoming community. As you contribute to meaningful projects in your chosen field, you’ll gain valuable insights into Portugal’s business practices and build a network of connections.

Will I have time to travel and explore during my internship?

Yes! You’ll have guaranteed days off each week to explore and travel as you please, and you can also ask your supervisor for a long weekend to plan a bigger trip around the country.

Can I receive university credit while on an internship in Portugal?

Yes, but you must ensure with your home university that all requirements are met. You can also choose to purchase transfer credits which will add onto your experience.

Will I receive compensation of any kind during my internship?

Unfortunately, no it is not possible to receive a stipend while interning for a nonprofit organization. Your internship will be unpaid, so you can find other ways to fund your internship here. The personal and professional growth opportunities, combined with the wealth of knowledge you’ll learn are invaluable!


LOCATION: Santarém, Portugal
PROJECT FOCUS: Animal Welfare and Conservation NGO
TASK FOCUS: Animal Care, Veterinary Assistance, Treatment
LENGTH: 4-26 weeks
COST: From EUR 1,318


  • Be part of an exciting new reforestation project that will help increase the biodiversity of the area
  • Play a key role in helping to promote the organization’s values and initiatives through research and data collection
  • Work as part of a passionate, committed team to bring about positive change
  • Build up a range of expertise in conservation and forestry to go towards future employment
  • Explore a beautiful region of Portugal and learn more about the local culture and way of life


If you’re ready to apply for this internship, here’s what to do:


Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) which includes sharing your CV to us.



We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.


If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.


If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, getting started with the booking process and all the info you need.


Only once we receive payment of the deposit your placement will be confirmed.


Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this internship first, just fill in the contact form below. We’ll be happy to assist!


Girl with white duck

Open for applications

Marketing and Fundraising Internship

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Contribute strategically to initiatives aiding in raising crucial funds for vulnerable animals and promoting their welfare and well-being.
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  • Min. 4 weeks
  • Santarém, Portugal
  • Field-Based Forestry Care, Data Collection, Wildlife & Plant Surveys
Participate in a conservation program, contributing to the development of a thriving natural environment for Portugal's native flora and fauna.
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