Archive for the ‘Dog Adoption’ Category

Dog Heaven: Hundreds of Strays Make Bucolic Costa Rica Shelter Their Home

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Although its official name is Territorio de Zaguates (the Land of Stray Dogs), the four-legged residents of this no-kill shelter in Costa Rica probably think of it more as El Cielo des Perros (Dog Heaven) – or at least the next best thing to a forever home.

A sanctuary in Costa Rica is home to more than 900 stray dogs. (Facebook)

About 800 dogs rescued from the streets live on the ranch in Alajuela until they are adopted. The nonprofit shelter was founded eight years ago by the husband-and-wife team of Alvaro Saumet and Lya Battle to promote animal welfare and respect. It is funded by donations and run by volunteers.

Many of the dogs are allowed to roam freely on the property for part of the day in an effort to improve their health and adoptability. There’s also an indoor area with beds and bathing facilities.

Years before an Arizona shelter started dropping breed labels to make dogs more adoptable, Territorio found another solution. It came up with a unique breed name for every mixed-breed dog as unique as the dog itself: Alaskan Collie Fluffyterrier and Fire-tailed Border Cocker, for example. In 2013, these names helped boost adoption rates a whopping 1,400 percent.

Visitors are welcome to take a hike with the dogs and, hopefully, find a perfect match.

“If you wish to adopt, you can schedule a walking hike on their property, and if any of them choose you, you will be allowed to adopt them,” wrote Andrew George in a Facebook post March 24 about Territorio de Zaguates that has gotten a lot of media attention.

A Place for Dogs That No One Wanted (Facebook)

Both Saumet and Battle are longtime animal lovers. Saumet grew up with dogs, while Battle was more attracted to “unloved pets,” she said in an email. “I loved snakes, spiders, lizards, frogs – you name it!”

Battle said she grew up assuming that everyone loved dogs, and believed the many dogs she saw on the street were on their way to or from their homes. But as she got older, reality set in — and broke her heart.

After she and Saumet married and moved into a house with a yard, they adopted a couple of puppies from one of the only animal shelters in Costa Rica at the time. “A horrible, high-kill shelter that still stands,” Battle said. “Leaving that place that day, with our little pups in our arms, knowing that the ones we hadn’t chosen would probably die soon, killed me.”

Battle started taking in dogs that seemed to need help, nursing them back to health and having them spayed or neutered. “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.”

All of the dogs are available for adoption. (Facebook)

Oso, the dog who inspired Territorio, was the fourth or fifth stray Battle took in. “He was oddly beautiful,” she said. “Yellow with a white mask like a Husky, curled tail and little ears.” She noticed his tear ducts protruded, so she took him to a veterinarian, who performed a simple operation to fix them.

As Oso recovered, Battle posted flyers of the lost dog and took him out for walks, hoping he’d find his way home, but no such luck. He was adopted – and returned — seven times.

“Alvaro and I decided to stop trying to find him a home and just keep him,” Battle said. “And that is when I realized that Oso had been lucky. He was a lovely dog but had no market value. Did this mean that he or any of the ‘unpopular’ dogs deserve to be out on the street? Or even euthanized only because society could not see their redeeming qualities?”

That’s when the couple decided to start Territorio de Zaguates, “a place they could call home even if they should never find ther own,” as Battle described it.

Since then, “Many dogs have left their paw prints in our hearts,” Battle said. “Old ones who made recoveries and hung around long after everyone had lost hope. Vicious ones that became teddy bears. Or dogs with social needs who proved undefeatable.”

Running the Shelter Isn’t Easy, But Always Worth It

While Territorio is paradise for dogs, running it has not been easy for Battle and Saumet.

“We have struggled daily against naysayers, haters, near-sighted government officials and ministries, terrible shortages and daily challenges of our own,” Battle said, adding that it has always been worth it.

“If a couple of ordinary people like us were able to do this for so long with no help from the authorities, without anything but their own jobs, their dwindling assets and a lot of stubborn determination and love, then big government budgets in other countries could do the same,” she said. “But shelters are not the solution — they are the reflection of our crumbling society. If we want to solve the problem, we have to stop buying from backyard breeders and demand our governments assign a portion of taxes to spaying and neutering all dogs and cats.”

Battle and Saumet have achieved a lot over the past eight years. They’ve been successful in creating awareness about the problem of dog overpopulation in Costa Rica. They have helped minimize the stigma attached to strays and educated people about the importance of spaying and neutering. “But most of all we have been able to offer whoever is interested a different option to the word ‘shelter,’” Battle said.

“In Territorio, every dog has a name, a second chance and everything we can manage to provide for them. The only thing we refuse to give them is an expiration date.”

For more information about this heaven on earth for stray dogs and how you can help, visit the Territorio de Zaguates website.

Story reposted from:
By Laura Goldman

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

All too often, individuals or families looking to adopt a pet walk into a shelter with hopes of adopting a puppy that may have been part of an unwanted litter or a small young dog that was found and never reclaimed. Most often, older animals are left behind in shelters as individuals and families want an animal that they can raise and have for a long time.

November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month”! Any dog seven years or older is considered a “senior”, but the size of the dog is also factored into this as the smaller the dog, the later in life they are considered a “senior”.1 You should use this month to educate people on why it’s awesome to have an older pet! Some reasons are outlined for you below2:

  • At the time of adoption, you will know the size of the pet, what his personality is, and what level of care he will need. There will be no surprises down the road!
  • Older pets tend to be calmer than younger ones, and this often make them easier to train.
  • Grown pets do not require the constant attention and monitoring that a puppy or kitten does.
  • Older animals tend to have already learned how to get along with others and join the team, so they can bond with their new family quicker!
  • Because many older pets have been housetrained already, they are less rough on the floors, shoes, and furniture that younger animals might still enjoy chewing on from time to time!
  • Older pets have the physical and mental capability to pick up on household rules quickly, unlike cute little puppies.
  • Older dogs often have less energy than a younger dog, so they will not need to, or want to, run as far and as often as a younger puppy.
  • Unfortunately, older animals are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized if they are placed at a shelter that believes in such practices. When you adopt an older dog, you are saving a life!
  • They are beautiful, adorable creatures! How can you say no to a couple of faces like these?

Senior-To-Senior Programs: Many pet agencies around the country also spread senior pet love through senior-to-senior programs. These programs are established to help senior humans enjoy and rediscover the joy of having an animal companion in their lives. These programs typically place cats and dogs over the age of seven with seniors over the age of sixty. The gentle and calm demeanor that older animals often have can be the perfect fit for an older human who may not have the physical strength to take care of a younger, more energetic animal.3 Humans have been found to benefit from these loving arrangements as research has shown that companion animals can help improve a human’s mental and physical health. Let’s come together and celebrate “Adopt a Senior Pet Month” this November and every month after!

Adopting any animal is a serious commitment and should not be made lightly. You can find amazing senior pets on websites like Petfinder and the Senior Dog Project.

Article reposted from:

Hector the Pit Bull Has Cancer But Says: I Win, Find Out Why?

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Hector the Pit Bull has led a life full of ups and downs. Hector spent his first two years as one of Michael Vick’s pit bulls. He was being groomed for the dog fighting world, but fortunately was able to find a loving home in Minnesota after the Vick dog fighting ring was dismantled in 2007.

The pit bull was adopted by Roo and Clara Yori, with whom he has lived the past seven years as a therapy dog. Hector has a purpose in life. A purpose to prove that dogs like him, even when saved from the most horrible situations, can make a wonderful pet if given the chance. Unfortunately, it seems that Hector the pit bull’s journey is almost over.

Hector was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good. In fact, the Yori family had already scheduled a date to euthanize Hector as he began to deteriorate in health. However, before his passing, the family uploaded some final photos to Hector’s Facebook account to outline why Hector can say “I won” to Michael Vick.

“As I prepare to pass and say good-bye, I want to thank all the people that were responsible for giving me the chance I deserved, and all the people that help save other dogs from similar circumstances. Thanks to you, after a couple of really crappy years with Vick and his buddies, I was able to enjoy 7 years of love and fun adventures! I was able to meet all kinds of really cool people, and prove that even dogs saved from horrendous situations should get a shot to show what they are made of. Ideally, it would have been nice for Vick to reconcile with me and all the other dogs from that time, but that didn’t happen. That’s his choice, and that says something in my opinion. My choice, though, was not to allow that past to dictate who I am. As a result, I can say this in regards to my life: I Win!”

Hector truly is a winner, and has even stood up against his cancer and proven to his family that he isn’t ready to go just yet. The euthanization was scheduled for October 9, but after taking some touching last photos with Project Cleo, Hector went on a final walk with the Yori family. It was in that walk that Hector gave it his all and said he was not ready to go. The family said his energy levels came up and he ate two meals. Therefore, they canceled the euthanization and decided to let Hector go on his own terms. A Facebook post from October 10 said, “To confirm that I still have some zest left, today I went for a long walk with Scooby and ate both breakfast and dinner.”

Though Hector’s life started with a battle and will end with a very real battle with cancer, the time the Pit Bull spent spreading his love and joy for life will not soon be forgotten.

Story reposted from:

Canine cancer survivor loses leg, but not his zest for life

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Beck, a two-year-old Labrador retriever mix, has cheated death twice…the first time by making it out of a rural animal control facility alive, and then again when he conquered a deadly form of cancer.

The Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno has played a huge part in Beck’s survival – after saving him from the animal control facility, they discovered that he was limping because of osteosarcoma, rather than from an injury. After the daunting diagnosis, the rescue agency ensured that the young dog would receive the veterinary care necessary to save his life.

The cancer resulted in Beck losing a limb, but the amputation has done nothing to put a damper on his zest for life.

Beck’s foster family wrote:

Beck has recovered from his surgery now. He has put on some needed weight and his appetite is good. His coat is short, soft and shiny black with brown highlights. He has a white cross on his chest. Beck has beautiful white teeth that are very strong. He can puncture a tennis ball in seconds and he has destroyed a few toys. Thankfully, he has never chewed on any furniture.

Today, this happy cancer-survivor needs just one more thing- a forever home. Nobody knows if Beck’s cancer will return – but on the same note, nobody actually knows, with any certainty, what the future holds.

The rescue agency responsible for Beck has shared the following:

Beck is nothing short of a stellar dog that was given a second chance to live. Lab Rescue is not seeking an adoption fee, only a perfect home for this perfect boy.

Story reposted from:
Written by: Penny Eims

Think before adopting a new pet!

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Some of us think that adopting a new pet is a cakewalk. But we have to actually take the headlong plunge to realize what it takes to bring home a new member. We are too often induced into buying new pets after seeing them at some friend’s or relative’s place. But the responsibility that comes with it is paramount. So, before going for adoption we should be clear in our minds as to why we need a pet. Unless we have a determined purpose we wouldn’t be able to do justice to our pooch buddies.

There are certain things that should be kept in mind before going for adoption.

1. People normally go for adoption after losing a beloved family member or a pet. The sorrow is so profound that under these circumstances it becomes difficult to do proper justice to the new family member. However, the poor animal is oblivious to these happenings. So he seeks out your love and attention. In case you aren’t able to come to terms with your grief don’t go for adoption immediately. Give yourself time to cool down first and then take stock of
the situation.

2. If you wish to make your children disciplined, compassionate and loving, you can adopt a pet. Children who grow up with dogs nurture a feeling of unity and oneness. Teach them to respect animals and in this way they would learn to treat everybody around them on an equal footing.

3. We are more used to seeing dogs in the role of a protector. But you should always remember that they are more of a companion rather than a protector.

4. When you bring home a new member you should be able to adapt yourself to the changes in your lifestyle.

5. People who live on their own are usually inclined towards adopting a pet. But always remember that you have no one by your side to help you with your doggy chores. So, you should be self sufficient and just in case you are getting butterflies in your stomach you can brush up your training skills at an animal shelter, or by looking after an animal or watching a friend’s or relative’s pet.

6. Every time you move into a different surrounding you have to retrain your pet because they take time to get accustomed to a new environment.

7. If you plan to adopt a pet before the arrival of your first child you have to take extra precaution. It has been observed that once the couple’s first child arrives, the pet starts feeling forlorn. So, right from the very beginning you have set the rules in such a way so that your pet’s life doesn’t get jeopardized.

8. For some people pets are a welcome relief after their children leave home for higher studies or for work. Initially, pets can be very endearing but gradually they may start restricting your freedom.

9. Before adopting a pet think about your age, size of your residence and the number of family members. Also keep in mind whether you are a traveloholic or a home-oriented person and accordingly buy a pet. Small pets are suitable to travel with but big dogs aren’t.

These simple guidelines can actually help you to set fixed goals before adopting a pet.

Protect your pets from snatchers

Friday, September 11th, 2009

With the growing number of puppy snatching cases in the US, many state like Texas, California and Delaware have decided to pass a legislation that would address the menace. Although California and Delaware have considered regulating the illegal sell of roadside animals, the Texas legislature is contemplating making pet theft a felony.

However, in case you are thinking why would someone steal a pet after all let me tell you that these doggies can fetch up to $10,000. The snatchers make money either through ransom or by simply selling them off to unquestioning, gullible customers at exorbitant rates.

Take a look at some of the ways that can prevent you from falling prey to pet snatchers:

  1. You shouldn’t leave your pet outside for a long time without supervision.
  2. Be careful while taking your dog out for walks. Avoid divulging too much information about him to strangers.
  3. It’s not advisable to leave him alone in a car because apart from posing serious health hazards a parked car can also draw the attention of snatchers.
  4. Some of us are into the habit of tying them outside stores when we go shopping. We should avoid doing this as it can give invitation to snatchers waiting for the prowl.

But despite taking all the precautions, if you still lose your pet what are the ways in which you will can recover him:

  1. Equip your dog with a microchip collar and always keep your contact information updated with your microchip recovery service provider.
  2. If you think your pet has been stolen call the police and immediately register a missing complaint. You may also contact the animal control officer in the area. In case your pet has a microchip fitted to his collar you should post the unique serial number along with his description in the ‘stolen article’ section of the National Crime Information Center for better results.
  3. You should carry recent photographs of your doggy with you. Also have an accessible web account through which you can distribute information and photographs of your pet in case of emergency.
  4. You can also ask the TV and radio stations to air information about your missing doggy.

However, all these factors notwithstanding, you should exercise adequate caution while purchasing pets.

  1. Check on the breeders before purchasing the pets.
  2. Never buy pets from roadside sellers, newspaper ads or the internet. Chances are that they might be stolen dogs.

A little bit of awareness on our part can not only save us the hassle but also give our pets a safe and secured life.

How important is socializing for dogs?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Have you bought a puppy recently? How often do you take him for a stroll? They say, in puppies the period between 3-12 weeks is very sensitive for socialization. In the formative years of their life certain people and incidents leave an indelible impression on their minds. This play a big role in shaping up their behavioural patterns later on.

So from now on take him along more often when you go for a jaunt in the evening. You never know there might be hidden in your otherwise timid pet a very mirthful creature. Or if you can spare some more time take him to obedience classes. Even taking him to your friend’s place where he might come across another dog belonging to the same or different breed might work wonders.

So try and acquaint him as much as possible with all sorts of things that he may encounter in the journey of his life. It could be from different types of people, animals to unfamiliar noises on the road. If his initial reaction is a bit weird don’t panic. Give him some more time. He will automatically adapt himself to the vicissitudes of life around him.

Release These Hounds

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Organizations exist all across the country that train and place service dogs in homes where they are needed. These dogs go through a rigorous screening process and many, many months of training. It’s easy to find a home that needs one of these dogs. But what happens when it’s one of these dogs who is in need of a home? What happens to a dog that doesn’t make it through the screening process? That’s where people like Michael and Diane Levine come in.

Back in 1990, the Levines were living in Rhode Island and were looking for an addition to their family. They’d always loved dogs, but didn’t want to raise a puppy. That’s when they heard about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit organization in New York that provides trained guide dogs for the visually impaired. They didn’t need a guide dog, but they were interested in adopting one of the program’s dropouts.

Dogs can be “released” from the program for many different reasons. According to the Guiding Eyes for the Blind website, the most common reason for a puppy to be released is that “the dog’s personality trait indicates a pup who seeks human support when under pressure.” Young adult dogs who have been through training may be released if they “show signs of worry in certain situations” or “appears to lack the fortitude for guide work.”

The Levines have welcomed three of these so-called “flunkies” into their home and couldn’t be happier. “I think raising a puppy is a lot of work,” says Levine. That’s why he thought this program was such a great idea. “They’re already trained,” he says, “They’re housebroken and they know basic commands.”

Taz was the first dog they adopted after being on a waiting list for about six months. Mandy was their next addition. She didn’t actually flunk out of the program, but rather, was released because of a medical condition. Although it was a minor problem, it is the policy of Guiding Eyes not to use guide dogs that have a health problem. A few years after they got Mandy, and after Taz had passed away, the Levines brought Jack into their home.

Levine says Jack flunked out of the program. “He was chasing squirrels or something like that,” he says with a grin. Levine says they would like to adopt another dog from a similar program eventually. The demand is so high for released dogs from Guiding Eyes that the anticipated wait for those who have already submitted applications is four years.

These released dogs make wonderful pets, and Mandy and Jack are proof of that. The adopted sister and brother are the best of friends, get to sleep on the bed and enjoy all the pleasures of being a dog. And Michael and Diane Levine get to enjoy all the pleasures that come with living with these two faithful companions. It is said that often the traits that make dogs unsuitable for “work” are the very traits that make them the perfect companion dogs.

Suzanne Jalot is a freelance writer and also the editor for Dog Living Magazine ( She can be contacted at