Building a Bridge, Not a Wall, to Mexico on Animal Welfare

By on March 11, 2016 with 6 Comments

Those running for President of the United States sure talk about Mexico a lot. So we figured we should too.

Humane Society International opened an office in Mexico City last week, hosting a well-attended event that brought together legislators, food companies, government officials, celebrities, and local organizations. We have an office in Canada, and we were long overdue to set up a similar entity in the domain of our southern neighbor. With 120 million people, Mexico has its own set of animal welfare challenges, and when you consider that countless animals are moving between our countries – right along with people and capital and so many goods and commodities – it’s imperative to put a stake in the ground there. We cannot solve animal welfare problems in the United States only to see them replanted in Mexico.

As we strengthen laws here in the United States to end animal fighting, there has been a corresponding increase in dogfighting across the border, as dogfighters bring dogs from the United States to fight and sell in Mexico. With the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants, many more horses are now shipped across the border to Mexico, where they are butchered for their meat.

HSI Vice President Kitty Block with Mexico City's Minister of Public Security Hiram Almeida, at the signing of the MoU to enforce citywide animal cruelty laws.

HSI Senior Vice President Kitty Block with Mexico City’s Minister of Public Security Hiram Almeida, at the signing of the MoU to enforce citywide animal cruelty laws. Photo by Francisco Colmenares/For HSI

What’s more, bullfighting and animal fighting rings are not uncommon in the country, and much to our chagrin, they are still legal. There is an acute street dog problem too, with an estimated 12 million free roaming dogs, and state governments resort to cruel and ineffective means of population control, like poisoning. Mexico raises approximately two billion farm animals each year for human consumption, but there are no meaningful laws protecting these animals and extreme confinement of breeding sows and egg-laying hens is the norm on factory farms.

Our team on the ground in Mexico has already racked up some impressive accomplishments over the past year.

We have signed agreements with agencies in three cities – Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende and Aguascalientes — to enhance the enforcement of anti-cruelty laws in their jurisdictions. We have also signed an MoU with Mexico City police to enforce citywide animal cruelty laws. HSI has pledged to train, provide equipment, and collaborate with these agencies to help them better enforce existing animal cruelty laws. The first trainings were conducted last week, with top HSI experts from the United States and Costa Rica participating. HSI also provided training for the local organization Consejo Ciudano, which recently launched an animal cruelty tip line.

Public opinion and politicians in Mexico are increasingly concerned with how animals are treated. According to a leading polling agency, 86 percent of Mexicans oppose using animals for entertainment purposes, 95 percent think people who hurt animals should be penalized, 73 percent are opposed to eating horsemeat, and 73 percent favor a ban on bullfighting.

In 2014, the Mexican Congress enacted a law banning wild animals from circuses, and last year Coahuila State banned bullfighting and Oaxaca State reformed its penal code to criminalize animal abuse. The Mexican Congress is now considering five legislative proposals to enact a federal animal welfare law, and HSI is working with legislators to bring the strongest language forward in these bills, with a special focus on a nationwide ban on dogfighting.

With the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants, many more horses than ever before are now shipped across the border to Mexico, where they are butchered for their meat.

With the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants, many more horses are now shipped across the border to Mexico, where they are butchered for their meat. Photo by The HSUS

We have also made some impressive gains for farm animals in Mexico. Our Meatless Monday campaign, which promotes more plant-based eating, and our Déjalas Mover campaign, to end the lifelong confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages and breeding sows in gestation crates in Mexico, have been highly successful, garnering the support of dozens of celebrities, chefs, food companies, producers, and organizations. We’re working with the country’s leading food companies on the adoption of cage-free egg and crate-free pork policies. Just a few months ago, after working with HSI, Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo, the largest baking company in the world, committed to switching to a 100 percent cage-free egg supply chain. We also worked with Eurest, the country’s largest food service provider, to announce a complete shift to crate-free pork and cage-free eggs.

Our work also encompasses shelters in Mexican localities to train workers in cracking down on the homeless animal problem. The need at these shelters, as HSI-Mexico Executive Director Anton Aguilar found, can sometimes be extremely basic.

In San Miguel de Allende, for instance, the local shelter had just two employees – one who responds to calls in the field and another who works at the shelter. The dogs were quiet, calm, and contented, but the shelter lacked the most basic facilities — like dog leashes.

“After a quick trip to a local pet supply store we returned to the shelter and provided some tips on how to use the leashes we purchased and some kongs and treats,” Anton said. “One employee at the shelter was moved to tears.”

The work of HSI-Mexico is only beginning, and we face both challenges and opportunities. In the days and months ahead, you can be sure we will continue to forge strong partnerships with governments, NGOs, food companies, and other stakeholders, and transform the landscape for all animals in Mexico.

Categories
Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Equine, Farm Animals, Humane Economy, Humane Society International

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.

6 Comments

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Barbara G. says:

    I hope I read this wrong the caption under the photo at the top of the page said that with the US slaughter plants closed many more horses are now shipped across the border to be slaughtered for meat. This sounds like the slaughter plants should have kept on slaughtering horses in the US so that more horses wouldn’t go across the border. Have you suddenly changed your mind and are for U.S. slaughter plants????? Please explain.

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi, I am the editor of A Humane Nation. If you were to read the article, you can see the context for this sentence– “As we strengthen laws here in the United States to end animal fighting, there has been a corresponding increase in dogfighting across the border, as dogfighters bring dogs from the United States to fight and sell in Mexico. With the closure of U.S. horse slaughter plants, many more horses are now shipped across the border to Mexico, where they are butchered for their meat.”
      This article discusses the work The HSUS is doing to strengthen laws in Mexico for animals, including cracking down on horse slaughter there. The HSUS supports the SAFE Act in Congress, that would ban domestic horse slaughter and stop the export of U.S. horses for slaughter abroad. Hope that clarifies it for you.

  2. Kim Medici Heseltine says:

    Thank you Wayne and The HSUS for all that you for the animals.

  3. Faun Dillon says:

    You need to get rid of a humane officer in West Moreland County that believes in horse slaughter lots. She said and I quote there is a reason for slaughter lots she was standing in my barn looking at a lame horse when she said it. She needs fired !!
    And she took one of my horses confiscated it after I just rescued it from very neglectful situation and she let them kill it.

  4. Megan Gabel says:

    We are delighted that HSI is becoming involved with Mexico and visited San Miguel. I am not sure what “shelter” to which you are referring. You must be talking about Ecologia which, until very recently, has been the local pound. With the involvement of HSI, Ecologia is working at becoming a no-kill shelter, a development we are very pleased to see. We hope that facilities and employees will be expanded at Ecologia so that it can save as many animals as possible and find them good and loving homes.

    The Sociedad Protectora de Animales de San Miguel de Allende, A.C. is the only no-kill shelter for cats and dogs in San Miguel and has been in existence for more than 35 years. We provide shelter, care, and food for approximately 100 animals (50 cats and 50 dogs). We have 7 employees and an onsite clinic with a full-time vet and vet tech who provide care for our resident animals and pets belonging to the community. Our website is here: http://www.spasanmiguel.org We invite you to visit our shelter next time you are in San Miguel and we will be happy to give you a tour.

    Megan Gabel
    S.P.A. General Director

  5. Elaine Ruiz says:

    I am not sure what is wrong with the dog in the first picture, but suffice it to say this dog needs our help now. I do not have good enough eyesight anymore to tell exactly what is wrong. Would someone please nicely tell me about this picture so I do not have any more nightmares.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.

Top