Many stray animals are brutally attacked by heartless people who take advantage of the fact that they do not have an owner to nurse for them.

However, now the story is different because these unkempt animals could have a lawyer to represent them and bring the person who caused them harm to trial.

This is possible thanks to the Ley de Bienestar de los Animales (Animal Welfare Law), which allows organizations dedicated to the protection of animal rights to become their legal representatives.

“It is not necessary that someone is the owner of the animal if we see a just cause in which there is a violation of the current law against animal abuse we can intervene and be part of the defense,” explained Rubén Rodríguez, director of the Federation ACAN.

Rodriguez explained that this representation cannot be assumed by anyone, it can only be carried by a well-constituted organization and that in turn is registered before the Judicial Registry.

However, the criminal complaint of aggression or the death of an animal can be filed by any citizen.

“It is a job that gives hope to people who love animals and protect their rights so that all these crimes do not remain unpunished, “said Rubén Rodríguez, representative of ACAN.

Braulio Alvarado, attorney at the Bufete 822 law firm, backed what Rodriguez said, indicating that it is the Judiciary itself that grants a certificate for the organization to act on behalf of the animal.

Alvarado also said that with all these changes brought by the animal welfare law, organizations of this type do not have to sit and wait for the Public Ministry to decide whether or not to prosecute a case of abuse.

“If the Prosecutor’s Office decides that they do not want to file a charge in the case, the organization can perfectly present an accusation privately, even if the Public Ministry does not want to,” explained the lawyer.


The lawyer explained that though the law approved in July 2016 and signed into law in June 2017, there are still many people who are unaware of its scope, but it is only a matter of time before more cases are represented are seen.

“As the law is extremely new, now cases are coming out,” he said.

The lawyer added that many still believe that animals do not have rights and even if they were to denounce a case, nothing would happen. Alvarado sees hopes in future generations mindful of animal rights and their action to denounce cases.

Two cases

So far in the country there have been two cases in which defenders organizations have decided to participate in the criminal process.

The first is against two men with surnames Espinoza and Zúñiga, who are accused of killing a dog inside a house in La Guácima de Alajuela in September 2017. They will be the first to go to trial for a crime against an animal.

The second case is the death of “Zeus”, an American Staffordshire Terrier, to which a man surnamed Wilson, aged 22, pulled out its heart. The case occurre in Pavas at the end of March, The legal representation for the dog is being assumed by ACAN.

Article 279 of the Ley de Bienestar Animal sanctions with a prison sentence of three months to two years.