If it’s true that all dogs go to heaven, that heaven is probably Costa Rica’s “Territorio de Zaguates,” Spanish for “Land of the Strays.”
But Costa Rica wasn’t always a safe-haven for these animals. In the wild, dogs notoriously mate regardless of size or breed. This can result in large populations of feral dogs, a problem Costa Rica and other developing nations still contend with. Sadly, many governments are left with few options for controlling these populations, resorting to large-scale exterminations (1).
Enter Territorio de Zaguates, a privately-funded, volunteer-run dog shelter. Set in the breathtaking foothills of Costa Rica’s Barva Volcano, it is a place where strays go to be loved, instead of killed.
The shelter’s mission is to dispel the myth that “mutts” are less desirable, by assigning each dog a unique breed based on its characteristics. A clever ad campaign ran in the area (2), giving these unique breeds a “brand-name” all their own. The “Chubby-Tailed German Dobernauser,” or the “Fire-Tailed Border Cocker” are just some of the furry pups you’ll find running around this paradise. And the best part? All 900 of these once-abandoned and mistreated dogs are available for adoption (3). Should you choose to adopt one of these mutts, you’ll have your very own brand-name dog.
Today, purebred and “designer” dog breeds can sell for thousands of dollars in the US (4). Many of these dogs are the result of several generations of inbreeding, and are raised in inhumane conditions (5). And yet, in a culture where uniqueness is encouraged, mixed breeds are somehow deemed undesirable, and are either killed or end up homeless.
So if you’re a dog-lover like me, and you find yourself in Costa Rica, you now have a new stop on your visit.
Read more about Territorio de Zaguates, and visit their Facebook page via the links below.