Hotline set up so citizens can report on illegal dog fighting

There is now an easy way for concerned citizens to bite back against dog abusers. In response to increased worries over dog fighting in Costa Rica, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería is starting a telephone line for people to call in with tips and information that can prevent this animal cruelty.

The hotline’s number is 8625-6000 and works not only for calls, but also through video, photograph, and text messaging. In collaboration with the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal and the Humane Society International, the ministry’s help line should allow for immediate action against and perhaps future prevention of dog fighting.

A spokeswoman from the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal said people who send in valid complaints are eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,500 from Humane Society International.

The two parties have worked together since 2012 to weed out dog fighting from Costa Rican soil.

“Animals are entitled to a life without aggression, and our goal is to achieve responsible pet ownership in Costa Rica,” said Germán Rojas, director general of the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal.

“This tip line will support and further boost the existing legislation which pursues those who treat animals negligently and illegally.”

The phone line set up coincides with a proposed bill in the Asamblea Legislativa that could potentially offer other tools and restrictions valuable for breaking up dog fighting networks and breeding grounds. Last month, for the first time in the country’s history, a fine was given for the illegal act that is still common in Costa Rica.

Lawmakers passed the dog fighting bill on first reading Thursday.  One more vote is required.

Cynthia Dent, the regional director for Humane Society International, said this new hotline shows that Costa Rica is hardening its stance against this illegal activity.

“It is imperative for us that citizens come forward with information on these activities and help us eradicate them,” she said. “We are very proud of our contribution to the implementation of this tip line, as well as our continued collaboration with SENASA.”

By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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