Pets and Animals in Costa Rica

Information on owning and caring for cats, dogs and other pet animals in Costa Rica, plus details about animal rights organizations and veterinary care...

In Costa Rica pets and animals are cared for and protected by national laws and institutions. In most provinces there are animal shelters, which take care of sick or stray pets. These places also provide adoption opportunities for anyone who is willing to take care of any animal that may be homeless.

Animal cruelty, sport hunting, or any kind of violence against animals of pets is punishable by law, and people are encouraged to report any known abuses.


In Costa Rica there are certain laws for pet owners. Some of the most important laws, governed by the Ley de Bienestar de los Animales, Nº 7451 include:

  • Pet or animal owners are responsible for any injuries inflicted by their pet or animal on another person, pet or animal
  • The pet or animal must be cared for with the basic conditions of food, necessary preventive medicines (vaccines), cared for in sickness and provided with shelter and enough space for them to develop correctly
  • Once a pet is three months old, it must be vaccinated against rabies, and the vaccination must be renewed annually

For more detailed reference to the laws involving animals and pets, refer to a lawyer expert in the matter or see the resources on the Animal Legal and Historical Center website.

Veterinary Services

There are many veterinary surgeries in Costa Rica, particularly near farming communities, and many clinics have a 24-hour hotline as well as emergency services. It is best to know where the nearest surgery is in case of an emergency.