Azim Azimzade. "Dog baiting". 1938
Azim Azimzade. “Dog baiting”. 1938

It’s now law, the “Ley Contra las Peleas de Caninos“, with its publication in La Gaceta Thursday, anyone who know causes the death of a dog resulting from dog fighting on engaging in weight pull competitions, faces imprisonment form six months to three years.

The objective of the legislation is to ban dog fighting, as well as raising and training dogs for dog fighting.

The law also punishes spectators of dog fighting events, with up to 50 hours of community service work, and up to 40 minimum wages (some ¢16 million colones) for promoting, selling tickets or disseminating material that promotes dogfights.

Compliance with the law is under the control of the country animal health service, the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal (SENASA).

We will have to wait for the “regulations” to learn which breed of dogs are will be considered dangerous in Costa Rica for purposes of enforcing the law.

What we have as of yesterday is the law, coming soon is are regulations, according to SENASA legal director, Antonio Van der Luch.

It is a typical pattern in Costa Rica for legislators to pass a law (the Ley Contra las Peleas de Caninos was passed in the Legislative Assembly last April 14), have come into force and then months later comes the regulations.

Van der Luch said that although it will be some time before the regulations are in place, that does not prevent the SENANA from implementing the legislation.

In this case, Van der Luch explained that the regulations will include the handling of breeds of dogs considered dangerous. From now on, owners of such dogs must go through psychological testing to prove their mental balance, similar to the testing for weapons ownership.

However, Van der Luch added that SENANA will be in persecution of owners of vicious dogs.

Owners, breeders, marketers and trainers of breeds of dogs that SENASA defines as “dangerous” will have up to one year from the date of the regulations, to comply with the law.

To enforce the law, the SENASA requires the support of the Fuerza Pública (police) and judicial authorities (the Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ) to investigate reports of incidents of dog fights and dangerous animals.

The does inclue cockfighting, since that activity is already under the control of the Ley de Bienestar Animal,  a law that protects all animals against cruelty, which is expected to be voted on by Legislators next month.

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