Imagine a place where 900 dogs run free through the countryside, are well taken care of by teams of volunteers and are all available for adoption. This place does exist and it’s called The Land of the Strays, or Territorio de Zaguates, in the Santa Bárbara mountains in Costa Rica’s Heredia province. The non-profit sanctuary provides a safe life for all these dogs with the hope of finding them all forever homes.

The Land of the Strays
The Land of the Strays

Costa Rica is known for its untouched beaches and playful surf that make it a top destination for tourists; but, it is also home to over one million stray dogs, according to The Costa Rica Star. The Land of the Strays began as a privately funded, volunteer-run organization to help put a dent in this problem and find these strays homes.

Volunteers make sure all the animals are fed and bathed as the dogs spend their days roaming freely around the property and its scenic walking trails. Fresh-flowing watering pools can be found scattered across the property There are indoor areas for sleeping and eating that also provide extra shelter during bad or rainy weather. Visitors can come for free and play with the dogs and are encouraged to adopt.

But one of the best initiatives The Land of the Strays has begun is its extra special naming of dog breeds. The sanctuary is almost exclusively full of mixed breed dogs and unfortunately these are often viewed as less desirable. So the leading Costa Rican veterinarian went on the country’s national television to describe how these dogs are one-of-a-kind and can only be found in their country.

The volunteers take a look at each individual animal and create its own unique breed like “The Alaskan Collie Fluffyterrier” or the “Chubby-Tailed Dobernauzer.” This special way of renaming the dogs and their breeds has had tremendous success especially when the organization began posting the dog’s pictures and descriptions on social media. Followers began clamoring to want to adopt these extra special breeds, sharing animal pictures and details across the internet. This new way of thinking about dog breeds has been the most successful way the sanctuary has found animals homes.

This might seem like a paradise for dogs to run free and be happy; but really it’s a paradise for the many animal-loving volunteers and visitors that come by everyday.