In just two short years since its founding, our Humane Society International/Mexico office has made its mark in the protection of animals. Last year, when Mexico was hit by two earthquakes, team members deployed to hard-hit areas, bringing relief to more than 6,200 animals. We have conducted an investigation into the sale of horse meat as beef at butchers’ stores and markets. We have stopped the cruel Kots Kaal Pato festival where ducks and geese were strung up like pinatas and beaten to death, and we are working to stop “tournaments” in Yucatan where horses are gored and eviscerated by bulls. We have also won several significant victories for farm animals, including working with food industry leaders in Mexico to get tens of millions of egg-laying hens out of cruel battery cages.
With respect to dogfighting, we have won several key victories at the federal level. Thanks in large part to our efforts, the Mexican federal government in 2016 banned dogfighting and in 2017 adopted felony-level penalties for dogfighting.
This week, we gained another important victory in Chihuahua where the state legislature passed a bill that would transform the state criminal code to impose penalties on any dogfighting-related activities.
This is an important step in the work to end the scourge of dogfighting both in Mexico and in the United States. The state of Chihuahua shares a long border with the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas, and a tough approach to dogfighting in Chihuahua will prevent U.S. dogfighters from trekking into Mexico to stage fights. These people cannot do business as usual anymore in the United States where — thanks to the work done by The HSUS — dogfighting is a felony in every state and also a federal felony. So they go venue shopping to find spots where cruelty is under-regulated or not regulated at all.
Besides the hurt they inflict on dogs, the criminals involved in dogfighting are often implicated in crimes against humans. Police discover drugs, guns, and even evidence of murders committed in connection with these cruel events. In Ciudad Juarez, in 2013, dogfighters were suspected of killing an entire family of eight, including three children, because of unpaid dogfighting debts.
In 2016, soon after the HSI/Mexico office opened, we launched a major anti-dogfighting campaign along with local animal protection organizations. Our work led to Mexico’s House of Representatives, and later its Senate, passing 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. Last year, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed reforms to ban dogfighting and mandated the federation and states to impose penalties on dogfighters within a one-year timeframe. Dogfighting became a federal offense in Mexico in June 2017.
But while the country’s criminal code now includes dogfighting, it is also important that each state prohibits it in its criminal code, since the states continue to have jurisdiction in some cases (for instance, when dogfighting occurs outside federal facilities or when foreigners or officials are not involved). Chihuahua is the first Mexican state to adopt state-level reforms this year (nine other states already penalize the practice). We are off to a strong start, with the goal of wiping out the scourge of dogfighting entirely in the years to come.