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, has been a persistent and widespread animal welfare problem in Mexico, according to the American Humane Society. 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.
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 last week 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.