A bill introduced by Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) legislator, Ileana Brenes and currently being discussed in Committee, aims to establish regulations for “potentially dangerous” dogs.
The legislator says the introduced the legislation to ensure their safety of people against dangerous dogs.
The law would require anyone possessing, breeding, training, transporting and handling of potential dangerous dogs, to be licensed and carry third party liability insurance. If the license is not obtained, the dog could be confiscated and kept in a shelter until the owner obtains the license.
Brenes says municipalities would be responsible for issuing licenses and creating municipal centre for the shelter of the animals. To finance the program, municipalities could charge a license fee.
Although the bill does not specify potentially dangerous dogs by breed, it does, however, define any dog “potentially dangerous” by their natural aggressiveness or body size, having the capacity to cause injury or death to humans or other animals and serious damage to property.
The bill calls for the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería (MAG) to create a list of specific breeds of dogs with characteristics considered potentially dangerous.
“Potentially dangerous dogs must have a proper muzzle when in public spaces. They must also be on a leash or chain not more than a metre (3 feet) in length and not more than one dog per person”, the proposal states.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA), the non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty towards animals based in New York City since its inception in 1866, recognizes that there are dogs who by virtue either of training or lack of training and socialization—especially in combination with a genetic predisposition to be wary of strangers, aggressive toward other dogs and/or predatory toward other animals—may pose serious threats if inadequately supervised and controlled by their guardians.
ThecASPCA says on its website that in order for dogs to live harmoniously with people and with other companion animals, it is critical to hold guardians responsible for the proper supervision of their dogs and for any actions on their part that either create or encourage aggressive behavior.
At the same time, laws that target “dangerous dogs” must be mindful of the rights of pet guardians and afford them due process. These laws should target only those dogs who truly pose a serious risk to other animals or to people. They should also take into account the fact that there are situations in which aggressive behaviour is justified, such as when a dog is protecting himself or herself, her guardian, her offspring or her home from harm or when the dog has reason to fear a person or animal who has harmed her in the past.