Tucked away in the serene mountains of Costa Rica lies a haven known as Territorio de Zaguates, or Land of the Strays. It’s a refuge where over 1,800 dogs find solace, love, and freedom. It sounds like a tale spun from magic, yet it is a tangible paradise for canines.
The sanctuary sprang from the compassionate hearts of Lya Battle and Alvaro Saumet approximately 17 years ago. Their mission was to extend a helping hand to the forsaken street dogs of Costa Rica. Initially, their modest two-bedroom dwelling served as the sanctuary, but as furry residents grew beyond a hundred, a need for a bigger space became evident. Fortune smiled upon them as Battle’s late grandfather’s sprawling 370-acre mountain farm offered the ideal refuge.
With the closing of several local shelters, Land of the Strays became the beacon of hope for many more dogs. Its fame spread globally, making it a renowned sanctuary where over a thousand dogs now find a haven.
“This sanctuary serves as a transitional abode for numerous puppies seeking another shot at life. We open our arms to potential adopters both locally and internationally. However, for those with unique looks, advanced age, or special needs, this becomes their permanent residence,” Battle shared with The Dodo.
A stroll around the sanctuary unveils a world where canine dreams come to life. Fields ripe for playful bounds, mountains summoning adventurous spirits, and a pack of friendly tails wagging in unison, always ready to join any visitor on tour.
The dogs are tended to by dedicated caretakers who shepherd them in more miniature packs for thrice daily runs, lasting about three hours each. “Our dogs relish these moments of liberty, scaling mountains and basking in the playful ambiance of the artificial pond. Despite the expansive freedom, the dogs maintain a close bond with their caretakers, showcasing a deep-rooted loyalty,” elucidated Battle.
Special enclosures cater to older people and special needs dogs, ensuring every resident experiences tailored care. Trust is a cherished bond here; seasoned dogs, familiar with the terrain, occasionally venture solo, always returning to the safety of their corrals.
The sanctuary encountered regulatory hurdles once open to public visits and hiking experiences with the dogs. “We faced governmental restrictions and a daunting list of infrastructural prerequisites to remain operational. Yet, through concerted efforts, we embarked on a transformative journey of extensive renovations,” recounted Battle.
Fueled by donations, the sanctuary grapples with financial constraints but remains unwavering in prioritizing the dogs’ welfare. The aspirations are grand – to open the gates for visitors and volunteers again. The allure of meandering through Costa Rican landscapes, a symphony of barks and wagging tails painting the backdrop, awaits the day of fruition.
In the heart of these picturesque mountains, each dog, from the mischievous pup to the wise old tail-wagger, has found not just a sanctuary but a world where every bark echoes the songs of freedom and every wagging tail paints strokes of love. Land of the Strays is a testament to the unyielding spirit of canine love, a sanctuary where over a thousand tails wag in unison, painting a world where dogs and dreams dwell.