El RefUgio Hogar Animal Costa Ballena (which means “The Refuge Animal Home of Costa Ballena” in English), or simply “El RefUgio” for short, is an animal rescue organization in the Costa Ballena region of southern Costa Rica, including the towns of Uvita, Dominical, and Ojochal.
El RefUgio’s goal is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Costa Ballena through rescue efforts, spay/neuter and vaccination clinics, and education. Our goals are to:
- Rescue, rehabilitate, and find homes for homeless, abandoned, and injured dogs and cats.
- When space allows, offer temporary shelter at El RefUgio or in a foster home for these homeless dogs and cats while they await a permanent, loving home.
- Host low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinics for the pets of low-income families.
- Educate children and families about animal care and welfare.
El RefUgio is not a traditional shelter. We are a soft landing place, a ‘house’ for animals that feels like a HOME. Our aim is to never cage an animal unnecessarily and to always place as much importance on their emotional well being as their physical wellness. Our aim is to open our hearts to every animal that needs us.
Spay and neuter clinics, vaccinations, and education
We at El RefUgio know that the population of unwanted and ill cats and dogs MUST be controlled by frequent and ongoing spay/neuter and vaccine clinics. We also know that more education is needed within our community and our schools to improve the welfare of these animals. We are focused on making a difference in these areas.
However, what we aim to provide first and foremost is a house… a home… a temporary FAMILY for these lost, abandoned and injured animals. Somewhere they can feel SAFE and loved, and be kept healthy while they wait for their perfect forever family.
Why the ‘U’ in RefUgio?
RefUgio doesn’t just mean refugio (“refuge”). The emphasis on the “U” holds a secret story inspired by one of the native languages of Costa Rica (Boruca). In the Boruca dialect, the symbol “U” means HOUSE. It also speaks to YOU! So by emphasizing the “U” in our name, we aim to remind how much of a difference YOU can make in an animal’s life just by offering them refuge. By giving an animal a HOUSE, together YOU make it a home.
Where is Costa Ballena?
Costa Ballena (“Whale Coast”) is located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is comprised of the towns of Uvita, Dominical, and Ojochal. Uvita is home to the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena (Whale Marine National Park) and is famous for the twice-yearly migrations of humpback whales that come to give birth and raise their calves in the warm Pacific waters just offshore from Uvita. Costa Ballena is known for its wide, sandy beaches backed by palm trees and distant green mountain ridges, making it one of the most scenic and accessible coastlines in the country. The area is teaming with wildlife and is a tropical paradise for those that live here… a SANCTUARY, a shelter and a SAFE place to call home. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and acts of violence towards people are some of the lowest in the country.
Unfortunately, however, not every animal that lives here experiences the same peace, joy and connectivity. Thousands of cats and dogs each year are lost, abandoned or injured, finding themselves without food, fresh water or a home to call their own. Their lives are constantly in danger as a result of living near roadways or in the jungle, as they seek only to survive day-to-day.
It is from witnessing firsthand the pain and suffering of these homeless and injured cats and dogs of Costa Ballena that El RefUgio (The Refuge) was born.
Non-Profit Status, Volunteers, and Board of Directors
El RefUgio is a non-profit, NO-KILL animal rescue organization, run entirely by volunteers. Our Board of Directors is made up of a diverse group of extremely talented and passionate people, whose common vision is to contribute something to help every homeless cat and dog in Costa Ballena feel loved and cared for. Each and every member of our board is active either in the trenches providing day-to-day care to the fur babies, or on at least one of El RefUgio’s committees. Our committees are set up to empower our volunteers to be leaders and make a difference in their area of interest, be it direct animal care, education, spay/neuter and vaccine programs, public relations, adoption/foster programs, fundraising, grant procurement, and more. And we are always looking for interested people to join our team! We want to reach out to this community and engage your involvement and, together, truly make a difference in how the animals of this area our viewed and how they experience their day-to-day life.
El RefUgio’s Board of Directors WELCOMES you to share in our passion and commitment. Please contact us to see how you can help.
Your Board: Kate Barr (President), Nikki Wall (Vice President), Karla Reimer (Secretary), Timothy Park (Treasurer), Amelia Plowman (Vocal), Karolina Svoboda (Vocal), Richard Simon, Dr. Sandy Quiros Beita, Dr. Kathy Wander, Donna Lewis, Brian Wall, Jan Atwood-Smith and Kristi Penland. Our Fiscal is George Scholes.
While we need people to achieve our mission, we also need donations. If you share our vision and want to make a donation, visit our Donations page for more information. If you prefer to donate items, we have created a wish list to help guide you in your purchases.
ALL money and donated items received go directly toward animal care and management. 100%. No donation is too small (or too big).