Fourteen dogs were confiscated during a raid of a dog fighting kennel operation on Saturday, August 24. Law-enforcement authorities suspect that four of the dogs are from bloodlines imported from criminal dog fighting enterprises in the United States, according to Inside Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s Animal Health Service, known as SENASA, and Costa Rican law-enforcement authorities, with support from HSI/Latin America and American Stafford Costa Rica removed the dogs who were apparently being used for breeding. Breeding proven bloodlines is one of the most lucrative aspects of dog-fighting operations and vital in maintaining the genetic “gameness” (the propensity to fight to death) of the dogs. It is also called “preserving the breed.”
SENASA has conducted three raids against major breeding and fighting facilities in Costa Rica over the course of the last year, resulting in over 30 dogs being removed, Inside Costa Rica reports.
Allan Sanchez, director of SENASA for San Jose said: “Finding these very specific bloodlines in Costa Rica proves that the level of organization and the resources of these dogfighting rings is on the rise.
Cynthia Dent, regional director for HSI/Latin America said: “The cruelty of dog fights goes beyond the confines of the fighting grounds themselves, virtually translating into lifetimes of mistreatment and pain for countless animals every year.
In dog fights, animals are conditioned from an early age to fight to the death. Even when they prevail, dogs used in these events are scarred and permanently maimed, often dying of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or even days after the fight.
In addition to their inherent cruelty, dog fights are an illegal yet prevalent fixture in some areas of Costa Rica, bankrolled by gambling, drug dealing and illegal gun sales and attracting bloodthirsty criminals.
COSTA RICA SEEKS TOUGHER DOG FIGHTING LAWS
A new bill being proposed in Costa Rica by legislator Walter Cespedes, would punish those who profit from, promote, commercialize, or train dogs with the purpose of involving them in dogfights, with up to three years in prison. The proposal would prohibit the fighting of both dogs and other animals.
Cespedes said that, in order to stop the commercial fighting of dogs and other animals, it is extremely important to prohibit the practice, as well as to establish severe punishment.
The proposal prohibits, without exception, the public or private fighting, and any competition involving aggression, mistreatment and possible injury of dogs.
PIT BULL OWNERS MUST OBTAIN ‘AUTHORIZATION CARDS’ UNDER PROPOSED LAW
Under the proposed law, owners of certain dog breeds such as American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Bull Terriers, must request a prior authorization from the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) to own, reproduce, sell or otherwise commercialize such animals, and the owner of the dog must carry the authorization card that identifies him as the owner, breeder, or other authorized handler of the animal.
The owners of dogs that are found in any place used for dog fighting, as well as the event managers, referees, and others involved in the event, would face jail sentences between 6 months and 2 years, and would also be prohibited from having any relationship with dogs for a period of 1 to 3 years. The dogs would also be confiscated, and those involved in the events would also face fines from 7 to 50 base salaries of a licensed professional.
SENASA says that after the fights, the participating animals are often abandoned with lethal wounds. The females who have ended their reproductive cycle are often abandoned in public places, putting the lives of the population at risk, as well as risking the lives of the animals.
The current penalty in Costa Rica treats participation in dog fighting as a misdemeanor with up to 180 days in jail.