Case of poisoned dogs makes its way to court hearing

An unusual hearing takes place today in the Juzgado Contravencional del 2nd Circuito in Goicochea. A woman is facing an allegation of poisoning two dogs in Pinares de Curridabat last August.

Members of organizations that help animals are ecstatic because such cases only infrequently come to court. And when they do, the allegation is a contravención, basically a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine or perhaps public services, said Marianelly Cabibbo of the Asociación Animales de Asís.

Ilonka Dorado, the aunt of the woman who owned Simon and Teo said Wednesday that the unusual case developed because the main suspect, a neighbor, was caught on a surveillance camera. The dogs were fed poisoned meat, she said. Although A.M. Costa Rica has a name of the suspect, there has been no confirmation from official sources.

Lawmakers still are considering a measure, No. 18.298, that would stipulate stiffer penalties for those who mistreat, molest or cause the death unnecessarily of an animal.  Some sections of a 2002 update have been annulled by a Sala IV ruling. The summary that introduces the text of the new bill said that the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal does not have the legal instruments to act effectively and to protect animals.

A commission approved the bill, but it remains on the legislative agenda waiting for lawmakers to return from a long holiday vacation.

“This is a sad case as are many others that happen in our country, but the good thing that we can get out of this situation is that the owners had the courage and intention to file a complaint of the killing of their pets and that the responsible persons have been called before justice,” said  Ms. Cabibbo.

Her views were quoted in an email distributed by her organization.

The purposes of a conciliation hearing is to settle a case before trial. If the neighbor admits her role, she may agree to make a payment to the dog owner or otherwise satisfy them and eliminate a formal trial.

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