In the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is a country known for its rich biodiversity and commitment to environmental conservation. However, beneath the surface of this paradise, there lies a significant issue – the problem of Costa Rica’s stray dogs.

The streets of Costa Rica are home to thousands of stray dogs, a situation that poses challenges for the dogs and their communities. This issue has sparked numerous animal welfare initiatives, one of the most notable being Territorio de Zaguates.

Costa Rica’s Stray Dogs Situation

Costa Rica’s Stray Dogs Situation is a pressing issue that demands attention. Thousands of dogs roam the streets, abandoned and left to fend for themselves. These dogs face numerous challenges, including malnutrition, disease, and traffic dangers. The situation is further complicated by the lack of sufficient animal welfare laws and the limited resources available for animal care. Despite the efforts of the government and various non-governmental organizations, the problem persists. This situation underscores the urgent need for more comprehensive solutions, such as increased public awareness, stronger animal welfare laws, and more animal care and control resources.

The government and various NGOs have made efforts to manage the animal population, but the problem persists. This is where Territorio de Zaguates, a unique animal shelter in Costa Rica, steps in.



What is Territorio de Zaguates?

Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays,” is a one-of-a-kind animal shelter in Costa Rica. This haven for dogs is located in the mountains of Santa Bárbara in the province of Heredia.

Founded by Lya Battle and Alvaro Saumet, the shelter’s mission is to provide a home for stray dogs and promote adoption. The shelter is unique in allowing the dogs to roam freely in a vast outdoor space. The dogs are well-cared for, receiving regular meals, medical care, and plenty of love from the staff and volunteers.

The work of Territorio de Zaguates is a beacon of hope in the face of Costa Rica’s stray dogs issue. Their efforts not only provide immediate relief for the dogs they shelter but also raise awareness about the broader issue of stray dogs in the country.

For more information about their work, visit the Territorio de Zaguates Official Website.



The Work of Territorio de Zaguates

Territorio de Zaguates is more than just an animal shelter. It’s a sanctuary where each stray dog is given a second chance at life. The work done by the organization is extensive and multifaceted, focusing on:

  • Rescue: The team at Territorio de Zaguates works tirelessly to rescue stray dogs from the streets of Costa Rica. Each rescued dog is given medical attention, nourishment, and a safe place to live.
  • Rehabilitation: Many of the dogs that come to the shelter are traumatized or have behavioral issues. The staff and volunteers work to rehabilitate these dogs, helping them to trust humans again.
  • Adoption: Territorio de Zaguates promotes the adoption of their dogs. They believe that every dog deserves a loving home, and they work to match each dog with the perfect family.

For more information about their work, visit this BBC News Article on Territorio de Zaguates.



The Impact of Territorio de Zaguates

The impact of Territorio de Zaguates on the stray dog situation in Costa Rica is significant. The shelter has:

  • Reduced the number of stray dogs: By rescuing dogs from the streets and finding them homes, the shelter has helped to reduce the stray dog population.
  • Raised awareness: Through their work and outreach, Territorio de Zaguates has raised awareness about the stray dog issue in Costa Rica. This has led to increased public support for animal welfare initiatives.
  • Improved animal welfare: The shelter’s approach to animal care has set a new standard for animal welfare in Costa Rica. Their work has inspired other shelters and organizations to improve their practices.

For an in-depth look at their impact, check out this Atlas Obscura’s Feature on Territorio de Zaguates.



How to Support Territorio de Zaguates

Territorio de Zaguates relies on the support of animal lovers around the world. Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate: Financial donations are crucial for the shelter to continue its work. Donations go towards food, medical care, and the maintenance of the shelter. Click HERE to donate.
  • Volunteer: If you’re in Costa Rica, consider volunteering at the shelter. Volunteers are needed to help with animal care, maintenance, and events. Click HERE to volunteer.
  • Adopt: If you’re able to provide a loving home for a dog, consider adopting from Territorio de Zaguates. Click HERE to adopt.




Territorio de Zaguates plays a crucial role in addressing Costa Rica’s stray dogs problem. Their work in animal rescue and animal welfare has not only improved the lives of thousands of dogs but has also had a broader impact on animal welfare in Costa Rica. By supporting Territorio de Zaguates, we can help them continue their important work and make a difference in the lives of stray dogs.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the dog problem in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has a significant stray dog problem, with thousands of dogs living on the streets. These dogs often suffer from malnutrition, disease, and the dangers of traffic and human cruelty.

Can you bring a stray dog home from Costa Rica?

Yes, it’s possible to bring a stray dog home from Costa Rica, but it involves a process that includes health checks, vaccinations, and paperwork for international travel. It’s recommended to work with a local animal rescue organization to facilitate this process.

Can you adopt a dog from the land of strays in Costa Rica?

Yes, Territorio de Zaguates, also known as the Land of Strays, encourages the adoption of their dogs. They work to match each dog with the perfect family.

What is the famous dog rescue in Costa Rica?

The most famous dog rescue in Costa Rica is Territorio de Zaguates, a unique animal shelter that provides a home for hundreds of stray dogs and promotes their adoption.

Which country has the biggest stray dog problem?

Several countries around the world have significant stray dog problems, including India, Russia, and Brazil. The scale of the problem varies depending on factors such as population size, urban development, and animal welfare laws.

Is Costa Rica a dog-friendly country?

Yes, Costa Rica is generally a dog-friendly country. Many locals have dogs as pets, and there are numerous dog-friendly parks and beaches. However, the country does have a significant stray dog problem.

What is the dog disease that is going around?

There are several diseases that can affect dogs. Parvovirus, distemper, and leptospirosis are some of the most common. It’s important to keep your dog vaccinated and regularly checked by a vet.

What is the common problem of the dog?

Common problems in dogs include fleas, ticks, and worms, as well as diseases like parvovirus and distemper. Behavioral issues, obesity, and dental disease are also common.

How common is leptospirosis in Costa Rica?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect both humans and animals, including dogs. It’s present in Costa Rica, particularly in areas with poor sanitation or flooding.

What is a big problem in Costa Rica?

Aside from Costa Rica’s stray dog problem, Costa Rica faces several other challenges, including deforestation, water pollution, and urban sprawl.

What is the most common disease that kills dogs?

Parvovirus is one of the most common diseases that can be fatal to dogs, particularly puppies. It’s highly contagious and can be prevented through vaccination.

What is the first sign of parvo in a dog?

The first signs of parvo in a dog include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and severe, often bloody, diarrhea.

What are the symptoms of the dog virus?

Symptoms of a dog virus can vary depending on the specific virus. Common symptoms can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.



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