Lya Battle has about 900 dogs that she calls her own, all of which are strays or dogs with special needs. Her dogs live on the sanctuary that she founded called Territorio de Zaguates or the Land of Stray Dogs, a no-kill shelter in Costa Rica. All of Battle’s dogs are rescued from the streets of Alajuela and taken to the shelter where they receive health care, food, and shelter until they are adopted into forever homes. Battle founded the nonprofit shelter with her husband Alvaro Saumet almost a decade ago.
They always had an affinity for adopting strays long before they opened their doggie sanctuary. She had about 100 of them living in her small home at one time. The couple would take them in, get them healthy, and spay or neuter them. “It was not a very common practice at the time,” she said. “I decided there had to be a place other than the street for those wonderful dogs that for some reason no one wanted.”Their house had become pretty full when Battle inherited a 146-acre farm from an uncle. As luck would have it, it was the perfect place to start the sanctuary which is now run by volunteers and funded by donations.