Can a stay in a dog shelter be pleasant for a pet? Yes, if it stays at the dog paradise in Costa Rica!

Animal shelters aren’t associated with anything good. When we think about them, usually through the eyes of our imagination, we see sad old dogs locked in cages and pens gazing hopefully and asking for love. Fortunately, there are shelters where animals are happy and waiting for a new family is more like a vacation than staying in a shelter.

One of the most special shelters for dogs in the world is located in Costa Rica. This place is called “Land of the Strays” (Span. Territorio de Zaguates) and is home to more than 900 pets. Animals there live on a huge open area, enjoying their freedom and liberty.


The shelter was founded by Lya Battle, who spent many years helping abandoned dogs on her own. Seeing the scale of the problem, she decided that it is necessary to create a stationary shelter, which could help stray animals from the surrounding area. It was a great challenge, but being convinced that she’s doing something important gave Lya strength and as a result, she managed to create a place where every dog can wait, in comfortable conditions, for a family who’ll love them.

Lya has created an extraordinary place and should be a model for others to follow.

“Land of the Strays” is fully funded by private individuals, for whom the fate of abandoned animals is a dear matter. Thanks to their generosity, there are about 900 dogs in the facility and each of them is assured a warm place to stay and a bowl of delicious food. The shelter also functions thanks to dozens of volunteers who devote their time to caring for the dogs.

Pools are located throughout the property, so that the dogs have access to water everywhere and at all times.

In contrast to other shelters, “Land of the Strays” doesn’t have any cages. Dogs aren’t kept in any enclosed areas, but have unlimited access to the open space. They can run in the fields and play with each other for days on end. Often they’re not alone, since people can visit the shelter to play with them or take the dogs for walks. Such openness to people makes it more likely for them to decide on the adoption of a pet, because they have a chance to actually get to know their chosen one and become friends with them.

The shelter and its buildings are always open and the dogs are never locked up.

Are you curious how the life of 900 dogs together looks like? A video about their lives can be found on the next page.