Dog Fighting: Costa Rica Judge Issues First-Ever Criminal Fine for Dog Fighting

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

For the first time, Costa Rican judicial authorities have issued a criminal fine specifically for dog fighting against a man charged with acts against animal welfare.

This progressive step was the result of a collaborative effort between Humane Society International and the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) to move criminal justice for animals forward with the prosecution and first-ever criminal sanction of its type in the country.

A complaint was filed in December 2012 stating that the suspect promoted dog fights in the suburban community of Desamparados.

Following due process procedures, SENASA requested a search warrant to collect evidence to support a criminal case of animal cruelty on the premises, ultimately leading to charges that resulted in a trial.

The offender was found guilty of the charges, which resulted in a fine of 105.000 colones (approximately $200 USD).

Additionally, the offender is prohibited from engaging in any action that conflicts with animal welfare, including any physical injury, fighting or neglect of an animal. Any violation of the restrictions imposed would lead the reopening of the case and imposition of even greater fines/penalties.

“This ruling and its associated penalty represent a major legal precedent, not to mention the fact that it will also have a considerable public impact, warning dog fight promoters of the legal consequences of animal abuse,” said Allan Sánchez, director of the Central Metropolitan Region of SENASA.

The joint efforts of HSI/Latin America, SENASA and local organizations such as American Stafford Costa Rica, have led to the discovery of many illegal breeding operations.

Dogs of various breeds, and frequently of specific bloodlines, are bred to be sold to dog fighting rings. These animals are often living in inhumane, cramped and filthy conditions, without proper food, water or veterinary care, reports the Costa Rican Times.

Cynthia Dent, regional director of HSI/Latin America, said: “We commend the Costa Rican authorities for their great effort and excellent work in the struggle against dog fighting…Today we’d like to reiterate our pledge to continue supporting SENASA and the local animal welfare organizations to confront these crimes.”

Dog fighting is an illegal yet prevalent activity in some areas of Costa Rica, accompanied by gambling, drug dealing and illegal gun sales. Since 2012, SENASA, American Stafford Costa Rica and HSI/Latin America have collaborated against the dog-fighting industry in Costa Rica.

In October 2012, HSI trained more than 100 people, including government representatives of the different regions of the country and police officers, in the correct methods of evidence collection that must be followed during raids, as well as the appropriate and safe handling of the animals.

Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, HSI/Latin America is active in programs related to companion animals, wildlife and farm animal welfare.– on the Web at

Source: Costa Rican Times