One thing about living in Costa Rica or “Ticolandia” are the little nuances in daily life. Even after living in the country for many years, more than two decades in my case, there is something wonderful and new to learn.
This is one of them… one I did not know.
Thanks to Cindy Banks Carroccio for posting it on the Facebook community, Expat Pet Owners in Costa Rica:
Reason #376 to keep your dog leashed or securely on your property.
It is not illegal to take a dog off the street (even if it is obviously owned). That is not considered “theft” in the eyes of the law. I have confirmed this with OIJ.
The only way it is “theft” is if you find your dog in the possession of someone else – you must take Fuerza Publica with you (and proof that you are the owner via photos, microchip, vet records) and they ask the person to give the dog back. If they refuse, you have to file a complaint and get a judge to go with you or take them to court. In the meantime, the person can just relocate the dog or claim it ran away.
And thanks to Jeff Kunkler‘s comment, “so… not to be a smart ass, but what happens if you steal your own dog back?”
Personally, I have lost a couple of dogs, Huskies in fact. I have also found, rescued and adopted a few, again Huskies. Young Huskies are known to wander off.
One of the most interesting was on the old road in Santa Ana. I spotted a Husky wandering, pulled over to check it out. When I opened the passenger door, the dog got in, rode home with me and stayed almost a year before he was ready to move on. He didn’t run off, he walked away. When I caught up with him at a bus stop about 2 km away he didn’t want to come.
Back to the post by Cindy. One time I found a young German Sheperd, lost and wandering in the barrio. I let people around me know I had the dog. A great, gentle and loveable dog.
Almost a week later the family showed up, with the kids, to claim the dog. It was hard parting, but it was their dog, not mine.
If you see a dog wandering your barrio, give it a home, albeit temporary until its owner shows up or you find it a new home if you cannot keep it. Dogs are great. Sometimes a pain. But mostly great.