It’s time to ban dogfighting in Mexico – everywhere in the country. It’s already banned in several states there, but the law is silent in others, and there’s no national law against what is perhaps the most widely reviled animal crime in the world. This week, our Humane Society International – Mexico office announced a new campaign, “No More Dogfighting” (No + Peleas de Perros), to snuff out dogfighting throughout Mexico – a nation of more than 130 million people that has so much cultural and economic exchange with the United States.
Due largely to The HSUS’s work, dogfighting is a felony in every state in the United States, and it’s also a federal felony (along with bringing a minor to a dogfight and possessing dogs for fighting). But it was a long and tough fight to achieve these goals, and we’re still chasing down people in the shadows who stage dogfights.
There’s some endemic dogfighting in Mexico, but we’re now also seeing that American-based dogfighters are trekking down to Mexico to avoid law enforcement. It’s yet another case – as we see with so many other activities – in which animal abusers go venue shopping to find the spots where cruelty is deregulated.
Dogfighting deadens the souls of the human participants, including the spectators, producing individuals more inclined to engage in interpersonal violence. We see it all the time in the United States. And now that we are paying attention, we see it in Mexico. In Ciudad Juarez in 2013, it’s suspected that dogfighters were responsible for the stabbing and slaughter of an entire family of eight, including three children, because of unpaid dogfighting debts.
Let’s be clear that there’s almost no reservoir of support for dogfighting in Mexico. One poll revealed that 99 percent of Mexicans condemn dogfights and 85 percent believe dogfighters should be penalized. More than 110 news outlets covered the launch of our campaign, which made it to the front page of Excelsior, one of the largest national newspapers.
We’re reminding Mexican leaders that they don’t want to be a hub for people involved in the enterprise, since we are banning the practices in nations to its south. HSI led the effort to enact anti-cruelty legislation in El Salvador and Honduras to ban dogfighting, and we have a major campaign in Costa Rica moving ahead too.
Congresswoman Veronica Delgadillo attended the announcement event, and she’s introduced legislation to make it illegal to organize or attend a dogfight as a spectator and to supply training equipment. The bill would also criminalize any other action in the dogfighting business chain. Also at the event was the cast of the first Netflix original series in Spanish, “Club de Cuervos”, Mexico City’s Minister of Public Security Hiram Almeida, Environment General Attorney Miguel Angel Cancino, and Consejo Ciudadano representative Mr. Fernando Hoyos. HSI has teamed up with Consejo Ciudadano, a non-profit group that runs a hotline for animal cruelty tips and channels them to security agencies in Mexico City, and is training phone operators on how to best handle dogfighting tips.
The “Club de Cuervos” cast, including Joaquin Ferreira, Gutemberg Brito, Said Sandoval, Alosian Vivancos, and Antonio de la Vega, as well as actor and singer Mane de la Parra, also star in an HSI video released on Monday, which urges lawmakers to make dogfighting a federal crime in Mexico.
But the strongest message of all comes from Toreto, one of the dogs featured in the campaign video. Toreto, who has come to symbolize our work against dogfighting in Mexico, was used by dogfighters for sparring. When they were done with him, they abandoned him on the road to bleed to death. Koncientizando, a local organization, and Mexico City Police Animal Brigade rescued the dog and found him a loving home.
Toreto reminds people of resiliency and resolve. And those are the attributes we’ll bring to the fight to end these appalling spectacles in Mexico and to make sure the perpetrators can find no legal cover for their cruelty.