Costa Rican veterinarians receive training in forensic medicine to support authorities in animal cruelty investigations

Humane Society International / Latin America


Daniel Aguilar/La Linea Dog in a puppy mill in Costa Rica, 2017

SAN JOSÉ—In order to support official investigations in cases of animal cruelty, a group of 25 veterinarians from private and public institutions are being trained in forensic veterinary medicine, including chain of custody enforcement, site handling and necropsies (autopsies).

This seminar, organized by the nation’s leading animal welfare organization, Humane Society International/Latin America, and the Costa Rican Veterinary Medical Association, will be taught by the forensic veterinarian, Dr. Julio Cesar Aguirre, a pioneer in this field from Colombia.

“Following the approval of the Animal Welfare Law, the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) has been seeking veterinarians to help gather evidence in cases of animal cruelty, and it is very important for our organization to support them in this task,” said Amanda Chaves, manager of the companion animal program for HSI/Latin America.

In accordance with this law, passed in 2017, those who intentionally cause a domestic animal’s death, those who damage an animal’s health or inflict severe pain and those who promote or organize animal fights will be sentenced to three months to one year in jail.

For Dr. Aguirre, this seminar strengthens cooperation ties between public and private institutions that work to protect animals and the environment: “Forensic veterinary medicine is an ally of animal and social welfare, as it provides the authorities with the scientific tools that contribute physical, chemical, biological and behavioral evidence, in cases of animal abuse, cruelty and irresponsible ownership.”

“In Costa Rica, forensic veterinary medicine is not offered as a degree at any university, so the training with international experts such as doctor Aguirre will help strengthen the capacity of our veterinary doctors and better support cases against animal cruelty,” said Maria Pia Martin, academic affairs coordinator for the Costa Rican Veterinary Medical Association.

The Forensic Veterinary Pathology Seminar is taking place on November 11 and 12 at the Saint Francis of Assisi School, Veritas University, in Coronado.

Media contact: Alejandra Zuñiga, 7012-5598 (mobile), latinamerica@hsi.org

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