“This is What Heaven Looks Like:” Thousands of Dogs Flock to No-Kill Shelter in the Heart of Costa Rica’s Mountains

doggy heaven costa rica


Costa Rica is known as a veritable paradise for nature and animal lovers, with sharks, snakes, howler monkeys, crocodiles, exotic birds, sloths, jaguars, and countless other unique creatures found throughout the breath-giving landscapes that make up the gorgeous Central American country.

But there’s one particular part of Costa Rica that steals the show not just for the type of animal it contains, but also for the sheer amount of animals it contains, in this case dogs: the animal sanctuary known as Territorio de Zaguates, or Land of the Stray dogs, which has made headlines for its ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’ approach to animal care and aesthetics.

land of the strays dogs

Here, visitors can find more dogs in one place than just about anywhere else on Earth, and the sanctuary has been spotlighted by everyone from Animal Planet to environmental activism websites to pet websites, and everything in between.

After watching this video you’ll agree, this ‘Puppy Heaven,’ or perhaps more accurately ‘Doggy Heaven,’ isn’t too far away after all.

Located in the jungle area of San Jose, Costa Rica, ‘The Land of the Strays’ was founded by a woman named Lya Battle as a non-profit that shelters and cares for over 1,300 stray dogs.

This no-killer shelter is the place to be for anyone who loves dogs, and Lya is certainly one of the founding, card-carrying members of this exclusive club.

doggy heaven costa ricalya battle land of the strays founder

While I personally haven’t been to this famous shelter just yet, I do know that Costa Rican dog owners are especially prone to letting their dogs roam free, at least on the beaches and other open areas.

I saw this first-hand while staying in Tamarindo, Costa Rica back in 2014 and 2015, and it was a beautiful site to see.

Dogs allowed to run free are some of the most fun-loving and adventuring creatures on Earth you could possibly imagine, and they seem to enjoy every minute of their freedom, much like they are with Lya in the photograph below.

lya battle costa rica

The 350-acre mountainous farm actually boasts over 2,000 dogs now according to a recent report from Modern Dog Magazine. 

Lya and her husband Alvaro Saumet don’t turn dogs away according to the magazine.

The land, and the hearts of their couple and volunteers, is big enough for as many dogs as God is willing to direct to their incomparable sanctuary.

If you ever get a chance to visit the ‘Land of the Strays,’ be sure to help out this brave couple with a donation or some volunteer time.

God knows these dogs, and the couple themselves, could use it.

‘Til next time, thanks for reading GLT’ers, and happy adventuring out there!


Photo via Paola Bonilla Fong

land of the strays

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