Thousands of animal lovers and their pets marched down the main avenue in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital, over the weekend to demand approval of a law being debated in Congress that targets animal abuse.

Dogs and cats of all sizes and breeds, as well as roosters, joined their owners in downtown San Jose's Plaza de la Democracia at the end of Sunday's march for a festival to honor animals.

This was the fifth march held in Costa Rica in recent years to call for action on animal abuse, but the two bills aimed at punishing those who hurt animals have stalled in Congress, where the Environment Committee has yet to take them up.

More than 4,000 wild animals have been taken in so far this year by ZooAve, a non-profit shelter that cares for abused animals, and the majority showed signs of injuries caused by humans, ZooAve spokesman Sergio Gonzalez told Efe.

The situation of domestic animals is even worse, but there are no official figures, Asociacion Rescate Animal said.

The press has reported in recent months on dozens of cases involving animals that were attacked with machetes, shot, mutilated and burned with acid, as well as cases of negligence and abandonment.

Costa Rican law does not consider such acts to be crimes, allowing animal abusers to go unpunished. EFE