A pack of rescued dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica.
Dogs frolic in a lush green field at the Territorio de Zaguates dog sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Welcome to Territorio de Zaguates, or "Land of the Strays," an amazing, privately funded, volunteer-run animal sanctuary in Costa Rica where no mutt is turned away.

Located less than an hour outside the bustling capital city of San José, this doggie safe haven is home to more than 1,000 abandoned canines that have been given a second chance at life.

This is no ordinary animal sanctuary, though. After all, when you live in place as beautiful as Costa Rica, you take advantage of what the landscape provides. That's why volunteers lead the ragtag pack of rescued mutts on scenic hikes through the gorgeous mountains nearly every day. It's a sight to behold.

A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill.
A volunteer at Territorio de Zaguates leads a pack of dogs up a hill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Aside from the free-range mountain hikes with breathtaking scenery, Territorio de Zaguates functions just like any other animal rescue or sanctuary.

"First thing we do when a new dog gets here is spay/neuter, vaccinate and get rid of parasites," the organization explains on its Facebook page. "Then we assess if the dog requires any other type of special treatment [and] put them in quarantine if necessary."

Once this initial processing is completed, the new dog is released into the general population, where it can either be adopted by a loving human or spend the rest of its days frolicking in what is essentially a doggy paradise.

There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates.
There are all kinds of mutts living at Territorio de Zaguates. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

What makes Territorio de Zaguates even more special is the creative approach to finding the dogs forever homes.

To encourage adoption, every doggie resident at the sanctuary is not only given a name, but also a customized "breed" name based on the dog's phenotypic traits. These one-of-a-kind breed monikers include memorable titles like "Alaskan collie fluffy terrier" and the "chubby-tailed German doberschnauzer."

The resounding message behind this strategy is that when you adopt a mutt, you're adopting a unique breed. Learn more about this clever campaign in the video below:

As any animal rescuer will know, maintaining such an massive sanctuary requires an enormous amount of time, money and labor. But thanks to a host of charitable donors and an eager base of volunteers, the sanctuary is a great success.

"We have a very small staff but still we manage to do everything from daily picking up the poo and disposing of it properly, to feeding and medicating the dogs, and everything in between," a spokesperson for the organization writes.

Continue below for just a glimpse of what life is like for these adorable pups at Territorio de Zaguates:

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day.
Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Mattresses provide natural lounge spots for the dogs throughout the day.


A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers.
A pack of rescued dogs take a leisurely walk in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

The pack takes a leisurely hike in the woods with a few of the sanctuary's hard-working volunteers and some prospective dog adopters.


Kibble donations are very important to the sanctuary.
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Lunch time at Territorio de Zaguates means serious business, which is why kibble donations are so important!


Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary.
Cushy bed donations are also very important for the sanctuary. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In addition to food, comfy dog beds are also a much welcomed donation item for the sanctuary!


A volunteer leads the pack downhill.
A volunteer leads the pack downhill. (Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A sanctuary volunteer leads the pack downhill during a scenic hike through the mountains.


Lunch time at Territorio de Zaguates!
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

In case you were wondering where all those yummy kibble donations went ... behold the trough!


A few of the sanctuary's senior residents rest on the steps of the facility.
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A few of the sanctuary's senior residents rest on the steps of the facility. Even if the pups aren't adopted out, they'll always be guaranteed a luxurious forever home at the sanctuary.


Concrete drainage pipes makes excellent makeshift dog houses.
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Concrete drainage pipes makes excellent (and sturdy!) makeshift dog houses.


Rescued dogs hanging out in the shade of the Territorio de Zaguates sanctuary.
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

Rescued dogs hang out in the shade of the sanctuary's many trees.


A nice refreshing dip... in some drinking water!
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

A nice refreshing dip ... in some drinking water!


Naptime!
(Photo: Territorio de Zaguates)

After a long, fun-filled day of being a dog, there's nothing like cuddling up with a friend and snoozing before dinner time.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in April 2016.