Everyone knows all dogs go to heaven. But for a few hundred stray dogs in Costa Rica, a life at Territorio de Zaguates - The Land of the Strays - may seem fairly heavenly already.
Image: 89 Decibeles A free-range, no-kill dog sanctuary located in the lush rolling hills of Santa Bàrbara, Territorio de Zaguates - currently home to about 900 dogs - is a far cry from the concrete cages most people associate with stray animal shelters. Although the property has indoor spaces where the dogs can sleep, eat, and have a bath, during they are free to roam the hills as they please.
Image: Territorio de Zaguates via Huffington Post The dogs are cared for by a team of loving volunteers. When it arrives, each dog receives a name and a unique breed designation, as the volunteers believe that every mix is really just the first of its very own purebred line.
Image: 89 Decibeles
Visitors are encouraged to come hike and play with the dogs, and if a person-dog bond forms, Territorio de Zaguates has an active adoption program. There is no euthanasia (which is illegal in Costa Rica); if a dog is not adopted, it is free to remain for the rest of its life.
Image: Territorio de Zaguates Oficial
Territorio de Zaguates spays and neuters all the dogs in order to prevent the otherwise inevitable hordes of puppies, but with an estimated 1 million or more stray dogs in Costa Rica, the current population of the sanctuary (about 900) is constantly growing. The costs of running the shelter are covered by donations from individuals and from corporations, including the pet food company Super Perro, which provides the majority of the 8,000 kg of food eaten by the dogs each month.
If you're not quite ready to make a trip to Costa Rica to adopt one of the pups from the Land of the Strays, you can still support the project! A donation of $36 dollars a month will sponsor all the costs of feeding and caring for one dog; $20 covers food for one, and $10 medical care for two. There are always more dogs who need help than there is money to care for them, so every dollar contributed goes toward another dog's day in paradise. That is, until the dog finds a forever family, and life gets even better.
Main Image: Andrew George