San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Thousands demand approval of laws to punish animal abuse in Costa Rica

More than 12,000 animal lovers and their pets on Sunday marched down the capital’s Second Avenue to demand approval of laws in the Legislative Assembly that target animal abuse.

Dogs and cats of all sizes and breeds, and even a rooster and a pig, joined their owners at Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José for various activities including a free concert.

The fifth edition of the march called for action on animal abuse, as two bills aimed at punishing those who hurt animals have stalled in the Legislative Assembly, where the Environmental Affairs Commission has yet to take them up for review and approval before being voted on by lawmakers.

Some 4,000 wild animals have been taken in so far this year by ZooAve, a nonprofit shelter that cares for abused animals, “and some 80 percent of them showed signs of injuries caused by humans,” said Sergio González, a ZooAve spokesman.

“People who abuse animals are a risk to society. We hope activities like this help raise awareness among lawmakers, that [abuse] cases have increased by 300 percent since last year,” he noted.

Dozens of cases involving animals that were attacked with machetes, shot, mutilated and burned with acid, as well as cases of negligence and abandonment have made the news in recent months, but Costa Rican law does not consider such acts to be crimes, allowing animal abusers to go unpunished.

Members of a group called “Animal and Earth Resistance Front” also joined the demonstration, claiming that abuse goes even further.

“Abuse is not just a matter of cats and dogs, … there’s also abuse against cows, pigs and other farm animals,” said some of the group’s demonstrators, who identify themselves as vegans and vegetarians.

Officials from the National Animal Health Service offered free vaccination against rabies and free deworming for several attendees.

The Tico Times’ Alberto Font contributed to this story.


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