For the sixth consecutive year, thousands of walked, with their pets, along the Avenida Segunda in downtown San José against animal abuse in the country.

This walk was different than in the past, this year joining the march was Elena Quesada, vice-minister of Youth, who is also an animal rights activist, who is pushing for the animal rights bill to be discussed in the Legislative Assembly next month.

“I am doing all that is possible from the Executive Branch that it be so”, said Quesada, the youngest cabinet member of the current Administration.

The bill aims to reform the Penal Code (Código Penal, Ley N.º 4.573) ) and the Animal Rights Law (Ley de Bienestar de los Animales Ley, N.º 7.451) that calls for sanctions of up to six years in jail for animal cruelty.

The law also sanctions, from four to eight base salaries, anyone who keeps an animal in inadequate conditions, like not feeding or providing fresh water, among other actions.

The bill is not new, it was proposed first in 2011.

But for animal activists it is clear: a law will not be enough, there is a need for change in culture towards animals.

It is not uncommon in Costa Rica for a dog owner, for example, to keep a dog tied up on a short leash, not even giving the animal space to defecate or hours and sometimes days without water or food.

Several organizations to help abused animals have are doing their best in their rescue efforts, providing shelter and veterinary services. However, these groups – most run by Costa Rica’s young – are short in resources and donations are few.

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