Breaking news: Mexico adopts felony-level penalties for dogfighting

By on April 26, 2017 with 14 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

In a groundbreaking victory for countless dogs caught up in Mexico’s animal fighting trade, the nation’s Senate has put the final stamp of approval on a comprehensive law that bans all dogfighting in the country and establishes tough penalties, including imprisonment and fines, for anyone involved in dogfighting activities like organizing fights, owning or trading a dog, and attending a fight as a spectator. The practice, put on display years ago in the movie Amores Perros — whose leading actress, Vanessa Bauche, has supported our anti-dogfighting campaign — has been a persistent and widespread animal welfare problem in Mexico, and this new national policy is a signature success for the burgeoning animal protection movement in one of the world’s largest nations and one of America’s biggest trading partners.

The law will go into effect following publication in the country’s federal register. The move is historic in many ways: it is the first time that animal cruelty has been penalized in the Federal Criminal Code.

Last year, soon after opening an office there and under the guidance of executive director Anton Aguilar of Humane Society International/Mexico, we launched a major anti-dogfighting campaign along with local animal protection organizations. The campaign included a petition for legislators to ban and penalize dogfighting, which was signed by more than 200,000 Mexicans eager to see an end to this scourge. We enlisted celebrities, mobilized our growing constituency there, and lobbied lawmakers about the evils and hazards of dogfighting. More than 40 local organizations helped us add and keep up the pressure through letters, tweetstorms, and calls. With their support, we reached out to the media, held six press conferences and dozens of interviews, wrote op-eds, and got hundreds of stories published on the importance of this reform.

In December 2016, Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a reform of the federal criminal code, penalizing various activities related to dogfighting, including organizing fights, owning or trading a fighting dog, possessing a property used to hold fights, and attending a fight as a spectator. In January, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies passed reforms to ban dogfighting and mandated the federation and states to impose penalties on dogfighters within a one-year timeframe. The final – and key — piece of getting dogfighting banned in Mexico was for the Senate to pass the reform to the federal criminal code so that dogfighting is effectively penalized, and that happened yesterday in a unanimous vote.

Right now, many of Mexico’s 31 states and Mexico City forbid dogfighting, but there had been no national policy. As a result, criminal rings that organize and participate in dogfighting have been left untouched by the legal system.

Dogfighters sometimes kill the losing dogs, and even winners may die from their wounds. The criminals involved in these activities do not stop at hurting animals: police often discover drugs, guns, and even murders in connection with these spectacles of violence and voyeurism.

The Mexican law will also have a beneficial impact on our work to stop dogfighters here, in the United States, where we have established a strong federal policy on animal fighting over the last 15 years. But for years, American-based dogfighters have trekked to Mexico to avoid law enforcement in the United States where, largely due to The HSUS’s work, dogfighting is a felony in every state, and also a federal felony. Now there’ll be no refuge in Mexico for these lawbreakers. In coming days, HSI/Mexico will continue to work with states to reform their local criminal codes to penalize dogfighters, and assist authorities in their enforcement efforts through trainings and equipment donation.

Mexico’s lawmakers have sent a clear signal: it’s time to root out animal cruelty and violence from the country, and bring criminals who profit from animal abuse to justice.

Companion Animals, Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. paula hilton says:


  2. paula hilton says:


  3. Donna Davison says:

    I am so encouraged, and absolutely thrilled. I hope they are able To prosecute heavily those that break the law. But with all the drug cartels there I’m afraid it may be difficult.

  4. Donna Lysinger says:


  5. Sarah says:

    Wayne Pacelle stated “most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country” and advocated euthanizing all of the Vick pit bulls in 2007, stating a biased horrible generalization that these dogs could not be saved.😡 (As did PETA, luckily ASPCA and small nonprofits recognized how short sighted and cruel this was)
    I’m not trolling this is fact. Of course I support punishing the actual offenders and not the dogs, who are the VICTIMS. Let’s just not pretend the Humane Society has been on the side of the victims at all times as their PR tries to purport.

    • Connie McCabe says:

      Best Friends in Utah stepped up and rehabilitated quite a few, too

    • Celine says:

      Totally agree, Sarah. Let’s not forget either that PETA is STILL LOBBYING to kill pitbulls. PETA sent THIS YEAR a letter supporting BSL in Ontario (as they also did in UK) while we, true animal defenders, are trying to get rid of this discriminating law. It seems that the logic for PETA’s VEGAN MEMBERS is the following : It is OK to KILL ANIMALS as long as you DON’T EAT THEM!! So thank to the ground work done by the small non-profit groups and ASPCA and all the unsung but real heroes who did save and still are saving the victims – namely the pitbulls. HSUS really should agressively go after dogfigthing rings if they want to improve their image. I hope they really will. We’ll see.

  6. Dallas Gun says:

    Alright. – Mexico !! A great big thank you. Deep in your heart you know this was the right thing to do. And the idiot in our White House thanks and says so many bad things about all Hispanics. Again thank you it

  7. Amelia Garcia says:

    Dog fighting is certainly an animal cruelty and abuse! It must be stopped and abusers must be prosecuted and get the maximum punishment!

  8. margarita clayton says:

    congratulations over again! Thank you for taking care of our beautiful, innocent animals. Onward!

    what about an animal welfare march at trump’s building & etc. Can’t we reverse the Alaskan fiasko?

  9. valda purvis says:

    Wonderful news hope it spreads to all countries ,these poor dogs only want to be loved and given a loving home ,these low life who ruin their lives hopefully will be jailed for a long time ,all their assets should be sold to help in the rehabilitation and veterinary bills ,good people doing good thank you for caring.and doing what you do.for these poor dogs.

    • Hilda says:

      This is untrue. The tecate bulldog Barn/dog fighting operation has been going on for years and still operating. By a gringo by the way. Human society Mexico, intl, San Diego have been contacted. No one is doing nothing. Don’t be fooled, money is still more powerful than laws.

  10. Marian Prato says:

    Also….in MEXICO what about the brutal horse tripping rodeos held regularly that cripple horses? Young children and above are brought to witness this as well…to learn that it is acceptable to abuse horses in this way for sick entertainment! HSUS we need this to come to an end! Are you investigating this?

  11. Annoula Wylderich says:

    Muy bien!

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