A criminal court in the canton of Desamparados, south of San José, last week ordered a man whose identity was not disclosed to pay ₡105,000 ($200) for organizing dogfights on his property. Yes, a whopping $200. But he also signed a paper promising not to do it again.
The defendant pled guilty in an abbreviated legal process that ended in the fine and a written promise “to refrain from engaging in any conduct that might result in the harming of any animal.”
If the defendant violates the written contract, his case will be reopened and he will be charged with animal cruelty, “a legal offense that under current legislation could result in 30 days in prison,” Animal Health Service (SENASA) Director Antonio Vanderlucht Leal said.
The defendant was charged with animal abuse in December 2012 after SENASA inspectors found evidence of dogfighting on his property. SENASA inspectors found a dogfight ring and several dogs, along with other evidence. He was charged with animal cruelty.
“This sentence sends a message to those who commit acts of animal cruelty and it encourages citizens to file similar complaints,” SENASA’s Director of the Metropolitan Region Allan Sánchez Mora, who represented the agency in the case, said.
Costa Rica currently is debating a bill in the Legislative Assembly to ban dogfights outright and to set tougher sanctions for any kind of animal abuse. Article 16 of the bill states that violators could be fined up to 50 professional base salaries, the equivalent of ₡28 million ($56,200).
The bill in December received unanimous approval by members of the Assembly’s Agricultural Affairs Commission and awaits approval by the full Assembly in coming weeks.
SENASA has a hotline to report animal abuse and dogfights: 2260-8300 or via email: [email protected]