Are you a dog person or a cat person? Personally, I love dogs and before coming here, I was very curious about the practice of owning pets in Costa Rica. Whenever I discovered that my host family had a dog, I was overjoyed! But I still had many questions, and wondered if it was as popular as it is in the United States. I soon discovered many things about pets in Costa Rica, and now, I am able to answer the questions I previously had.
What kinds of pets are typically owned?
Like the United States, dogs and cats are the pets you most commonly see. But also like the United States, people do have pets like birds and fish as well, and in rural areas, some have chickens, horses, and pigs.
How do pet owners view their pets?
In the United States, some people have such a deep love for their pets that they describe it to be the same love they have for their children. Also, a lot of pets are very spoiled and get what they want, even if it is inconvenient for their owner sometimes. In Costa Rica, pets are of course loved and cared for, but it seems as though not as many people live to make their pets have everything they want.
Are pets as heavily protected as they are in US?
In the US, there are laws and penalties regarding animal abuse and it is viewed as a very serious matter. In Costa Rica, it is basically the same. When it comes to strays, stray dogs virtually do not exist in the United States. When a stray dog is discovered, they are usually found and taken to shelters, signs are put out, or people take them in. Stray cats are more common, but usually many people take pity on stray cats as well and give them food. In Costa Rica, stray dogs are a pretty big problem. There are dogs everywhere, and they walk around a lot looking for food. There are organizations that are trying to rid Costa Rica of this issue, but it has not been completely solved.
How are pets viewed in the community?
As mentioned above, there are many stray dogs in Costa Rica and they are everywhere. They are basically like wild animals, and Costa Ricans are used to it. There are restrictions like in the US, for example, pets are not permitted in the supermarket. However, if a dog enters the supermarket, it is no big deal. Many people walk their dogs without leashes, and often peoples’ pets will just follow them. There have been a few times that I walked to school and my host family’s dog followed me and sat next to me in class. Even crazier than that, a dog that belongs to another family has also followed me to school, showed up at my house, and even walked over a mile with me and host mom!