Costa Rica’s unique “Territorio de Zaguates,” or Land of the Stray Dogs is a canine sanctuary that is home to over 1,000 strays.
The no-kill dog shelter is approximately 378 acres of tropical mountain paradise and is located approximately an hour from downtown San José, Costa Rica. When a new dog arrives at the shelter, it is named and sent straight to the grasslands to spend its days frolicking upon majestic landscape until the day it finds its forever home.
Territorio de Zaguates is privately funded and advertises the message, “When you adopt a mutt, you adopt a unique breed,” as a way to encourage dog shoppers to think different about abandoned mixed breed dogs.
Socially, mongrels are deemed inferior to purebreds. The Land of The Strays is setting out to change that. At Territorio de Zaguates, instead of being branded nondescript mutts, these mixed breed pups are given names unique to them. From “Fire-Tailed Border Cocker” to “Chubby-Tailed German Dobernauzer,” each dog is its own exotically-named breed.
Every dog is neutered and vaccinated upon arrival to ensure health and longevity of all the dogs living at the shelter. Many of the dogs come from rough pasts whether it is the streets or abusive households. The facility, as it modestly puts on its homepage, “aren’t glamorous or fit for a king but are more than suited for a fluffy friend.” For many of the dogs, the environment is the safest and most comfortable or the first home they have ever had. With soft beds, a washing station, and a large feeding area; the dogs are free to focus on more important elements like running around all day with their adoptive doggie siblings.
But that is not the best part, because you can even visit this doggie paradise. If potential adopters are interested in recusing from Land of the Strays, they aren’t limited to looking through the photos online. They’re welcome to visit the sprawling property to meet their soon-to-be forever companion in person. The shelter offers open walks a few times a month, mainly on weekends so you can find the earliest dates for the next walk on its Facebook page.
Territorio de Zaguates even takes in special needs dogs, sometimes if a dog is not as rowdy as the others, it is placed in its own separate area for safety. The shelter is strictly nonprofit and no-kill which means that it can become incredibly expensive to upkeep. If you are interested in supporting the shelter and helping the dogs with food and surgery expenses, you can donate here.
Even if you don’t have a chance to visit the Land of the Strays, the shelter’s philosophy is one that we should all take to heart. Pure isn’t always best and if you are so focused on the perfect breed, you might miss out on the best thing that’ll ever happened to you.
Take my shelter dog for instance, when we adopted her, we thought we were picking up a lab and bulldog mix. After a few months and one dog DNA test, we discovered our dog was part American Staffordshire pitbull, Great Dane, chow chow, German shepherd, Finnish Lapphund, and of course, Mexican street dog. Even though we didn’t receive the dog we had planned for, after learning about her true ancestry, it made us love her even more.