San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Rottweilers Kill Homeless Nicaraguan Immigrant

IN the hours before dawn on Nov. 10, ahomeless Nicaraguan man was attacked andkilled by two Rottweiler guard dogs on theproperty of an auto mechanic shop in thecommunity of La Lima in Cartago, east ofSan José. The incident has sparked internationaltensions with Nicaragua, national discussionand an investigation into the event.The attack – which was partiallycaught on tape by a local news team – lastednearly two hours. However, police andother emergency officials who respondedto the incident were unable to separate theanimals from the victim until it was toolate. Natividad Canda, 24, died as he wasbrought to the Max Peralta Hospital inCartago because of blood loss from thedozens of bites inflicted by the animals.Two other unidentified men who were withCanda when he entered the propertyescaped.The incident has caused another flareupin the already tense relations betweenNicaragua and Costa Rica. Diplomacybetween the two countries has beenstrained by an ongoing dispute over CostaRica’s navigation rights to the San JuanRiver, which is in Nicaraguan territory (seeseparate story).ON Wednesday, the NicaraguanNational Assembly voted to condemn whatthey perceive as inaction on behalf of theresponding police officers. NicaraguanForeign Minister Norman Caldera calledfor an exhaustive investigation into theman’s death in a letter sent to his CostaRican counterpart Roberto Tovar.Caldera’s sentiments and concerns wereechoed by Nicaragua’s Cardinal MiguelObando, who told wire service ACANEFEhe is confident the matter will beinvestigated.While Costa Rican authoritiesannounced that neither the dogs nor theowner would be detained, the JudicialInvestigation Police (OIJ) is investigatingthe response to the attack.Footage of the attack broadcast onChannel 7 TV News showed two largeRottweilers alternately biting and pullingthe immobile body of the victim, as firefightersattempted to separate the animalsfrom the man by spraying them and thevictim with a fire hose. Though a policevehicle is visible, no officers are seenattempting to intervene.Police officials said they could not fireupon the animals because they feared hittingthe victim, though on multiple occasions thenews footage shows the animals leaving thebody and walking a few feet away.THERE is no department within theframework of the Public Security Ministrycharged with canine control, OIJ investigatorJorge Abarca told The Tico Times.“I have seen these (canine control)departments in the United States on (thetelevision station) Animal Planet … but inCosta Rica, there is no such thing,” he said.Abarca said that although there areregulations for the National Police, orFuerza Pública, in dealing with stray animalsor guard dogs that have left theirproperty, there are no rules in place fordealing with guard dogs attacking someoneon private property.“The responding officers would needto use their own common sense (in dealingwith the dog),” he said, though he addedthat “the most practical thing to do wouldbe to kill it.”ACCORDING to OIJ spokesmanFrancisco Ruiz, the victim and two othersillegally entered the property of the autoshop Taller Zuñiga sometime after 11:30p.m. The two Rottweilers are kept in pensduring the day, but released at night toguard the property. The dogs, named Osoand Hunter, had no formal training,according to the owner.Ruiz said the attack lasted about anhour and 50 minutes; by the time the policewere notified and arrived, the man wasalready severely wounded by repeatedbites to his arms and legs. Ruiz said thatbetween police, investigators, firefightersand the shop’s private security, about 12officials responded to the incident.The owner of the animal, FranciscoZúñiga, told Channel 7 this is not the firsttime that the dogs attacked someone todefend the property; that he approves of hisdogs’ actions; and that he will continue touse them to guard his property.Canda, the victim, was a homeless illegalimmigrant who lived under a bridge nearthe auto shop where he was killed.According to the daily La Nación, he hadbeen charged with various crimes includingtheft and assault, and deported three times.-Tico Times reporter Scott Krischkecontributed to this report.

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