In Costa Rica, high up in the tropical mountains, lies a place called Territorio de Zaguates. Translating to "Land of the Strays," it is a no-kill rescue for the dogs who run loose on the streets of San José, about an hour away. Today, there are about 970 dogs running free on the 378 acres that comprise the rescue, and each and every dog has its own name. This is a magical place.
The throng of dogs live a happy life here, where they amble and frolic, gallop and jog over the beautiful landscape, racing beside visitors both human and canine—for you can bring your own dog to what must be the largest dog park in the world. Or at least the most populous!
Employees and volunteers take care of the dog population, bathing them, feeding them, playing with them and tending to their every need. Nearly all the dogs are up for adoption, which is the best possible outcome for the dogs and those who take them home.
Lyla Battle and husband Alvaro Saumet started taking strays into their home about 13 years ago. Amazingly, they reached 100 dogs jammed into their small backyard before they packed them all up and moved to Battle's grandfather's farm, in the magnificent tropical mountains above San José.
A grueling process to become an official nonprofit organization in Costa Rica is nearly complete. With almost a thousand dogs to feed, their costs are very high. They feed thirteen 66-pound bags of dog food every day at a cost of about $600. Every day
When you see the picture of full-time employee José sitting among a multitude of dogs, his arms resting on the back of the dog happily sitting in the man's lap, with the beautiful mountains in the background, you can really appreciate the beauty of the mission as well as the location.
The high, mountain meadow looks like a pastoral scene, green grass dotted with flowers in hues of black, brown, yellow and white.
Yet for each individual dog, it must seem like Heaven. “To look out and see hundreds of dogs running across the field was completely breathtaking to me. I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Dan Giannopoulos, the man who photographed this unbelievable place for National Geographic.
If everyone cared for their own one or two dogs, rescue organizations like Territorio de Zaguates would not have to exist. Yet there are an estimated 200 million stray dogs world wide. Not only is that statistic disheartening for the animals themselves, but what does that say about humanity? How can we take care of each other if we can't see our way clear to take care of our pets? What do you think about this amazing story of two people who "went to the dogs"? Are you with them in spirit? Then DO something about it! Share this story with your friends, formulate a plan, and let us know what you did in the comments!