Central government ramps up pressure for animal welfare bill

The executive branch is trying to advance an animal protection bill that seems stalled in the legislature. A march Sunday in San José that included ministers and a vice president was one effort.

The Casa Presidencial issued a list of what the government was doing on its own to reduce mistreatment of animals:

• The public school curriculum may include obligatory instructions on animal welfare. A meeting on this proposal will be today. In addition, the 10th-grade program of community service may be expanded to include work with animal welfare non-profit organizations.

• The Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal is creating a commission that will include those organizations that work in the rescue and welfare of animals.

• The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias will create an advisory board to protect animals at risk and to respond to help animals caught in a natural disaster.

• The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes will be posting more signs to warn motorists of wild animals on the highway.

• The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is placing special lamps at the beaches in Barra de Tortuguero. The color of the lamps do not affect the activities of marine turtles or the recently hatched youngsters.

• The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad also is installing new protective devices to prevent contact by march 051115animals with electrical power lines. The electrocution of animals is a major problem in areas where there are monkeys.

Current law treats most abuse of animals as misdemeanors. The law in the legislature upgrades some crimes to felonies that carry jail terms. A legislative committee already reduces some of the penalties. Some lawmakers fear that the law will be aggressively enforced by some of the non-profits.

Such activities as chicken fights already are illegal, and there sometimes are raids shutting down this activity.

However, chicken fights and disregard of animal welfare are ingrained attitudes, and many animals are considered work implements rather than pets.

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