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April 24, 2014

Costa Rica Launches Dedicated Dogfighting Tip Line

Humane Society International; SENASA; American Stafford Costa Rica

The Costa Rican National Animal Health Service (SENASA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with Humane Society International-Latin America, have made available to the public the first Tip Line for Complaints Against Dogfighting (8625-6000). This vital initiative will help stop this illegal practice in the country, as citizens can now send videos, photos and messages by cell phone that will identify people or places involved in dogfighting activities.

The implementation of this valuable tool takes place in the context of a broader strategy for the battle against animal fighting, which includes the lobbying for a new legislation passed this week in the Agricultural Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly. The bill is expected to soon reach the plenary for discussion and first debate vote.

The launch of the tip line comes as a result of the agreement between SENASA and HSI-Latin America, with support from American Stafford Costa Rica (ASCR), as the dogfighting industry in Costa Rica has grown in complexity. Through the tip line, citizens can report any type of animal fighting activities, contribute to the eradication of breeding facilities, provide information on locations holding illegal fights, and ultimately help dismantle animal fighting rings.

If the information provided is accurate and ultimately leads to the seizure of abused dogs and/or the arrest of those involved animal fights, the informant will receive a reward of up to US $1,500 from HSI-Latin America. HSI closely collaborates with SENASA’s on animal welfare issues. The organization has been working with Costa Rican authorities in the battle against dogfighting for more than two years.

Live in the United States? Call our HSUS animal fighting tip line.

"Animals are entitled to a life without aggression, and our goal is to achieve responsible pet ownership in Costa Rica. This tip line will support and further boost the existing legislation which pursues those who treat animals negligently and illegally" said Germán Rojas, director general of SENASA.

Dogfighting is an illegal activity in which two dogs are placed in a small space to fight each other to "entertain" viewers and promote gambling. The wounds inflicted over the course of the fight are severe and sometimes fatal, often causing death days later due to blood loss, dehydration or to wound infection. Typically, animals involved in this activity do not receive professional veterinary care and dogs are often killed or maimed by their owners.

Cynthia Dent, regional director of HSI-Latin America, reiterated the organization’s commitment to continue helping SENASA and the local animal welfare organizations in addressing these crimes. “It is imperative for us that citizens come forward with information on these activities and help us eradicate them. We are very proud of our contribution to the implementation of this tip line, as well as our continued collaboration with SENASA," she said.

The cooperation agreement between SENASA and HSI-Latin America includes informative and educational campaigns to raise awareness on dog fighting. HSI will also continue to provide training to various government agencies, such as the Judicial Investigation Bureau and law enforcement personnel, to strengthen knowledge about the proper handling of these animals and the evidence to be seized during raids. The agreement also aims at strengthening and implementing national laws on animal fighting, as well as other issues relevant to animal welfare.

Facts:

  • Since 2012, SENASA American Stafford Costa Rica and HSI-Latin America have collaborated to battle against the dogfighting 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, on the correct evidence collection process that must be conducted during raids, as well as the appropriate handling of the animals.
  • Dog fights are an illegal yet prevalent fixture in some areas of Costa Rica, often going hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing and illegal gun sales. HSI offers resources and training to local authorities working on the rescue of the victims of animal fights through a strategic partnership signed with SENASA.
  • Recently, for the first time in Costa Rica, the judicial authorities managed to impose a fine to a person found to be organizing dogfights. HSI-Latin America worked with the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) in order to give the course of the prosecution case.


Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 (301) 721-6440

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