This Week in Costa Rica

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This Week in Costa Rica is a weekly, online radio program and podcast by US expat, Dan Stevens

A Pet-Owner’s License in Costa Rica?

The Costa Rica Star - The next time your daughter in Costa Rica looks at you with sad puppy eyes and tells you she wants a puppy, you might have to tell her: “Sorry, honey. We don’t have a license for that.”


A bi-partisan legislative proposal recently introduced in the National Assembly of Costa Rica will require a household permit or certificate for those who want to care for companion animals. According to national newspaper La Nacion, that would represent 73 percent of the population in Costa Rica.

The proposal to make a pet-owner’s license a legal requirement in Costa Rica has some strong political support. Legislators Xinia Espinoza from the National Liberation (Spanish initials: PLN) party plus Jose Roberto Rodriguez from the Social-Christian Unity (PUSC) party are the authors of the proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Law of Costa Rica, which was enacted in 1994.

May I See Your Pet-Owner’s License, Please?

The license would consist of a permit issued after the prospective pet owner attends a course given by the National Animal Health Service (Spanish acronym: SENASA). A legislative assistant for Xinia Espinoza explained to La Nacion that the SENASA course may take one afternoon, and that it may consist of basic care, how to deal with young animals, how to deal with older animals, what to do when they are sick, etc.

This legislative proposal will undergo initial debate in the coming months. Legislators have already grumbled at the requirement portion of the law and are suggesting a way to make it voluntary instead. The proposal has more serious issues, such as forcing municipalities to establish centers to care for abandoned animals.

Other proposed amendments include restricting the ownership of wildlife that should never be kept as companion animals, particularly by people who have been convicted of violent crimes, domestic violence, or drug trafficking. This calls to mind the alleged escaped anaconda that made many people in Costa Rica very nervous, or the loose boa constrictor that devoured a neighborhood cat.

Domestic animals such as cats and dogs would not be restricted for keeping by those with criminal pasts. Caring for pets has been proven to have a positive effect in the rehabilitation of inmates in Costa Rica.

Should a pet-owner’s license become a requirement in Costa Rica, it would add to other measures that the country has in place to increase animal welfare, such as banning circus animals, eliminating state zoos, and making sport hunting illegal.


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This Week in Costa Rica is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, expressed or implied.  This Week in Costa Rica is produced by Podfly Productions, LLC and broadcast with permission by the Overseas Radio Network.