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It is known as ‘Territorio de Zaguates’ – the Land of the Strays, a free-range sanctuary where stray dogs are bought together and cared for by volunteers. In the mountains of Santa Bárbara in Costa Rica’s Heredia province, the dogs wander the hillsides by day and are sheltered at night. Each one is well-cared for: fed, watered and neutered, and given the chance to find a new family. No dog is put down.

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Facebook/Territorio de Zaguates Oficial

The Land of Strays is funded by both commercial sponsorship and public donations, with visitors happy to pay to visit the incredible sprawling site and even go on organised hikes with the packs.

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Facebook/Territorio de Zaguates Oficial

With over a million homeless dogs, Costa Rica needs places like this – but it also needs individuals willing to take these dogs on. ‘Zaguate’ means ‘mixed breed’, and people sadly tend to favour purebred pets over crossbreed strays. To try and tap into this, the sanctuary gives every dog a unique breed name celebrating their individual traits. Outside the facility, a billboard advertisement reads, “When you adopt a mutt, you adopt a unique breed.”

This campaign has had much success, boosting adoption rates significantly. Chubby-Tailed Dobernauzer, anyone?

One of the 'breeds' featured in the advertisement campaign. Via Garnier/BBDO.
One of the ‘breeds’ featured in the advertisement campaign. Via Garnier/BBDO.

You can find out more about the Land of the Strays here.

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Facebook/Territorio de Zaguates Oficial

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