Angie Vega (2023)
Mexico is a North American country that borders the United States in the North and Belize and Guatemala to the South. Like many Latin American countries, Mexico is also considered a megadiverse country with a wide variety of animals and plants, which include many unique and endangered species. In addition, it has diverse ecosystems, ranging from forests and wetlands to deserts and coral reefs.
Mexico has a federal presidential representative democratic republic system, and unlike most countries in the region, it has a federal government. It has 31 individual state governments and one Federal District, which is Mexico City. The federal government is divided into the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Mexico's President is the nation's head of state and government and oversees the executive branch. Congress is the head of the legislative power, which comprises the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Like the federal judiciary in the United States, the Mexican Federal Judiciary operates on a three-tiered system.
The judicial power is vested in the following:
- The Supreme Court of Justice has final appellate jurisdiction over state and federal courts.
- The circuit courts are federal appellate courts.
- The district courts and jury courts.
When it comes to animal protection, the development of the law has been relatively slow at the national and even at the state level. In general, animal law has a welfare focus. However, these laws are often not implemented and don’t have actual applicability in the real world. Furthermore, public policy focusing on animals is considerably deficient. Animals are classified as property. More specifically, the civil code classifies pets and companion animals as movable objects. Mexico does not have anticruelty laws at the national level. However, as of April 2023, 29 out of 32 states have either enacted anti-cruelty statutes or modified their criminal codes to incorporate animal cruelty as a crime. Specifically, 28 states currently impose penalties for animal cruelty as a criminal act, while 31 states have instituted anti-cruelty laws.
At the state level, administrative laws share a similar language, focusing on animal welfare and the dignified treatment of animals. In contrast, Criminal provisions addressing animals vary significantly from state to state. Mexico City, for example, recognizes animals as sentient beings in its constitution, but states such as Coahuila and Campeche have more comprehensive sets of laws protecting animals. In Coahuila, for example, animal cruelty crimes apply indistinctively to all vertebrate animals, and prison sentences range from one to six years. In addition, the authorities can confiscate all animals under the care of the person found guilty of animal cruelty (Article 261.B, Criminal Code, Coahuila). Animal fighting (which includes bullfighting and cockfighting) is prohibited. On the other hand, Campeche, stronger normative framework that protects all “non-humans” (except those used in bullfighting, cockfighting, and other similar activities. It punishes acts of cruelty for commission and omission, including those that endanger the life of an animal and abandonment. However, animal cruelty penalties fall short in comparison with other states, with prison sentences ranging from one to three years, respectively. (Atlas, AnimaNaturalis, Estado de Campeche, México 2021).
II. Animals in the Constitution
The political constitution of Mexico is the Supreme law of the land on which all the federal and state law is based on. The Constitution does not mention animals. However, Article 4 establishes that “all men and women have the right to a healthy environment to guarantee their health and well-being.” This Article further states that whoever damages or deteriorates the environment will be liable under current legal provisions. Even though this provision does not specifically protect animals through this right, it could be argued in future litigation that animals and wild animals, more specifically, should be protected in order to guarantee this fundamental right.
III. Animals in the Civil Code
Like most civil codes based on Roman law, the Civil Code of Mexico classifies animals as property. Specifically, Article 752 states that movable objects are by their nature or by legal disposition. Article 753 defines movable objects by nature as those bodies that can move from one place to another either by themselves or by an external force. Animals are included in this classification, and the subsequent chapters talk about the appropriation of animals (arts 774-784, 854-874, 886-889).
IV. Animals in the Criminal Code
Even though Mexico does not have an anti-cruelty law at the federal level, the Federal Criminal Code contains a few provisions regarding animals, where wild animals have notoriously more protections than domestic animals. The Criminal Code contains a dedicated chapter on biodiversity. As expected, It does not mention the protection of domestic animals. However, it contains provisions prohibiting dog fighting (Article 419 Bis). Breeding, training, owning, transporting, buying, or selling dogs for activities involving fighting between two or more dogs are some of the activities prohibited under this Article. Penalties range from six months to five years. In addition, this article punishes the organization, promotion, advertisement, sponsorship, or selling of tickets for dog fighting events and attending or enabling a minor to attend or witness a dogfighting event.
Chapter II contains provisions regarding crimes against biodiversity. For instance, Article 417 prohibits the introduction and trafficking of forest resources, living or dead wild flora or fauna, their products, or derivatives. The punishment for this crime is 1 to 9 years of imprisonment and monetary fines from 1 to 3,000 days, which is higher than most state anti-cruelty laws.
Article 420 contains provisions regarding crimes against aquatic life. It prohibits capturing, damaging, or killing turtles and marine mammals and collecting and storing their products or by-products. It also prohibits the capture, transformation, collection, transportation, or damage of specimens of aquatic species declared in the closed season. Article 420, II Bis prohibits the intentional capture, transformation, collection, transportation, destruction, or trade of the aquatic species abalone, shrimp, sea cucumber, and lobster, within or outside the closed periods, without the corresponding authorization, in quantities that exceed 10 kilograms of weight. The article also penalizes the hunting, fishing, or capture of any specimen of wild fauna by unlawful means, especially if it threatens the biological viability of a population or wildlife species.
Article 420 Bis establishes punishment of two to 10 years in prison and monetary fines for damaging wetlands, mangroves, lagoons, creeks, swamps, or coral reefs. Introducing exotic species of flora or fauna that damage the ecosystem or hinder, alter, or affect native or migratory species in the natural cycles of their reproduction or migration.
Title 22nd, “Crimes against persons and their patrimony,” Chapter I, titled “Theft,” establishes in its article 381 that a person who “commits the crime of cattle rustling, who by himself or by an intermediary takes one or more heads of cattle, without the consent of whoever can legally dispose of them.” In the terms of this article, the following species are considered cattle: bovine, Equidae, donkeys, mules, ovine, caprine, porcine, colonies of bees in an apiary, as well as that domesticated, wild, hoofed, major cattle or minor cattle.
Lastly, it is important to mention that virtually all states, with the exception of Chiapas, have enacted anticruelty status.
V. Other Laws Protecting Animals
There are four primary federal laws regarding the treatment of animals: The General Law of Wildlife (2000), the Federal Law of Animal Health (2007), the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (1988), and the Official Norm 033, 2014 regarding the humane slaughter of domestic and wild animals. The purpose of these laws is to avoid unnecessary animal pain and suffering resulting from the use of animals by humans. The following are the general laws that apply to more than one group of animals. Laws tailored specifically to farm animals or wildlife will be discussed in the appropriate section.
Official Mexican Law Nom-033-Zoo-2015, Humane Killing of Domestic and Wild Animals. (Norma Oficial Mexicana Nom-033-Zoo-1995, Sacrificio Humanitario de los Animales Domesticos y Silvestres). Regulates the humane slaughter and anesthesia of farm, domestic, and wildlife animals. It contains detailed guidelines about methods allowed depending on the species and how to handle animals prior to slaughter or euthanasia procedures. For instance, this law mandates that all farm animals and wild animals slaughtered for human consumption are stunned, while companion animals must be sedated before euthanasia. It also contains provisions on emergency killing protocols for all species.
The definition of animals encompasses all living creatures except for aquatic animals. It prohibits cruel and painful methods, such as the use of substances that induce muscular paralysis without causing loss of consciousness and that cause death by suffocation. The use of potassium chloride, in any form that results in the demise of animals, is prohibited due to the severe pain and anxiety it induces, which causes diastolic cardiac arrest in conscious individuals. Nevertheless, it is permitted for use on mega vertebrates, provided that the animal is under anesthesia and a veterinarian authorizes it. Inducing hypothermia or using electricity for stunning, anesthesia, killing, and euthanasia of all reptiles is also prohibited. In addition, it is prohibited to kill rodents, lagomorphs, and small mammals by hypothermia and/or freezing, chest compression, strangulation, drowning, or other mechanical suffocation methods. Finally, it is prohibited to use trapping methods to kill wildlife.
Failure to comply with the provisions established in this law will be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Law of Animal Health and the Federal Law on Metrology and Standardization.
Official Mexican Law Nom-051-Zoo-1995, Humane treatment in Animal Transportation. (Norma Oficial Mexicana Nom 051-Zoo-1995, Trato humanitario en la movilización de animales) This law establishes the general requirements for the transportation and handling of animals and additional requirements depending on the species. It seeks to set the parameters of the animal transportation system with the purpose of diminishing suffering during the transportation process.
This law defines animals as organic beings that live, feel, and move voluntarily or by instinct. An important aspect of this law is that it applies to a wide range of animals, including small animals, big cats and birds, nonhuman primates, and cold-blooded animals such as reptiles. This is a clear distinction from the national welfare provisions regarding animal welfare in the United States, which only apply to certain mammals. And in the case of the “twenty-eight hour law,” which regulates the transportation of only cattle, sheep, swine, mules, and horses.
Some of the general provisions include the prohibition to deprive animals of food and water prior to being transported; the prohibition against transporting animals that cannot stand on their own, that are sick, injured, or fatigued, unless it is an emergency case, or the animals have to be transported to receive medical treatment. Transporting young animals that rely on their mothers for sustenance and nurturing is only permissible when their mothers accompany them. In the case of ectothermic species (or cold-blooded animals) such as invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles, the law requires the taking of precautions to facilitate ventilation and maintenance of animals in temperatures close to the optimal range for each case. Endotherms (or warm-blooded animals) such as birds and mammals shall not be transported in extreme weather conditions.
Other provisions include the handling of animals during transportation, requirements for vehicles, kennels, and cages, and the loading of animals. The requirements and recommendations on the time for transportation according to the species are as follows:
- The transportation period for domestic birds should not be longer than 12 hours. Rest periods are not recommended during the transportation of birds. There are no benefits.
- It is not recommended to transport newborn chicks for periods longer than 16 hours.
- The transportation period for cattle should not exceed 18 hours without rest and without giving them drinking water.
- Rest periods without unloading livestock during land travel must be at least 3 hours and in accordance with sections 4.2.13. and 4.2.14. of this Standard.
- In the case of transportation longer than 24 hours, food must be offered to the animals in addition to breaks every 18 hours.
- Cows in production or recently calved must be milked every 12 hours.
Pregnant cows within the first two-thirds of gestation and Calves up to 6 months of age should be transported for at most 8 hours without rest or offering them water and food.
The transportation period for sheep and goats should not exceed 18 hours without rest periods and without watering the animals.
- Rest periods without unloading livestock during land travel must be at least 2 hours and in accordance with sections 4.2.13 and 4.2.14 of this Standard.
- Lambs and kids must receive water and food every 8 hours during periods of movement.
The transportation period for pigs should not exceed 20 hours.
- The period of mobilization without rest should not exceed 8 hours.
- Rest periods will be completed at least every 8 hours with the animals inside the vehicle, parking it under the shade for periods that will not exceed 1 hour.
Equines must be transported for a maximum of 18 hours, followed by an 8-hour rest period, preferably in appropriate facilities.
If the mobilization is longer, the horses must travel for periods of up to 12 hours, allowing stops every 6 hours, lasting one hour, to provide them with food and water.
Dogs and cats should not remain without food for more than 24 hours during transportation periods.
If transportation takes place for more than 6 hours, a receptacle containing drinking water must be firmly fixed to the inside of the cage. The shape and material of the container must prevent the water from emptying and the animal from getting hurt.
In transporting crocodiles, lizards, alligators, and gharials, feeding adult animals during mobilizations of less than 72 hours is not required. The maximum fast for babies and developing animals must be 24 hours.
It is required to feed large or racing birds such as ostriches, emus, rheas, and cassowaries if the transportation lasts 24 hours. A feeder and waterer must be inside the container to offer water and food if it lasts longer.
Non-human primates must be given water and food as often as required. On trips longer than 8 hours, it is generally necessary.
Carnivorous terrestrial mammals that travel for up to 24 hours are not required to be given food and water, except for growing animals or small species that need water. Still, if the transport lasts longer, they will always be offered food and water.
The owner of the animals and the person or transportation company are responsible for complying with the rules set forth in this law. The enforcing authority under this law is the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development and the State Governments. The General Directorate of Animal Health, the State Delegations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development, and the State Governments are responsible for implementing the provisions outlined in this law within the scope of their respective responsibilities and territorial jurisdictions.
General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (1988). (Ley General de Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente (LGEEPA)). This law focuses on the sustainable use of the environment and wildlife and the preservation and restoration of the ecosystems. It seeks to protect the national biodiversity and establish and manage protected areas. It establishes that to protect and sustainably use the flora and fauna, it is important, among other things, to encourage dignified and respectful treatment of animals to avoid cruelty against them. Moreover, it establishes that it is the duty of the federal government, the states, and the municipalities within their respective power to regulate the dignified and respectful treatment of animals (arts 78-79). The regulation of this treatment must be based on the following principles:
- Provide animals with enough water and food in order to keep them healthy.
- Provide animals with an adequate environment for their rest, movement, and space according to the species.
- Provide animals with adequate veterinary care and, in case of illness, provide prompt veterinary treatment.
- Allow animals to express their natural behavior.
- Provide animals with adequate treatment and conditions to guarantee their well-being.
A. Companion Animals
As previously mentioned, Mexico does not have an anti-cruelty law that applies nationwide, in spite of various bills being proposed at the federal level to address animal welfare.
However, there are a few general provisions within some laws that provide some sort of protection to companion animals. For instance, the criminal code does not have an article, chapter, or title dedicated to the protection of companion animals. Nonetheless, it specifically prohibits dog fighting. Article 419 Bis prohibits various activities related to dogs, such as breeding, training, ownership, transportation, purchase, or sale for involvement in dog fights. Violators may face penalties ranging from six months to five years. Furthermore, this article penalizes those who organize, promote, advertise, sponsor or sell tickets for dog fighting events and those facilitating a minor's attendance at or participation in such events.
The Federal Law of Animal Health (2007) is another example. This law establishes in Article 21 the responsibility of domestic animal and captive wildlife owners or caretakers to provide them with an appropriate quantity and quality of food and water tailored to the species and their reproductive phase.
The protection of companion animals takes place at the state level, where most federal entities have enacted criminal anti-cruelty laws. Some of these states will be discussed at the end of this article, but a complete compilation of state laws is offered in Spanish by AnimaNaturalis Mexico.
The regulations governing wildlife protection and management of wildlife species are the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (1988), the General Law of Wildlife (2000), and the General Law of Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture (2007). These laws are grounded on conservation and sustainable use principles, which stem from the constitutional recognition of the human right to live in a healthy environment.
The Federal Law of Environmental Responsibility (2013). (Ley Federal de Responsabilidad Ambiental). Governs environmental responsibility arising from environmental harm and addresses the legal damages and consequences resulting from such harm. It recognizes damages caused to the environment regardless of the damages caused to the owner of the land and the natural resources.
Wildlife General Statute (2000). (Ley General de Vida Silvestre). The purpose of this law is to preserve wildlife through its protection and sustainable use. Article 4 establishes the duty to protect wildlife and prohibits any act that causes its destruction, damage, or disturbance to the detriment of the interests of the Nation. This article also states that owners or legitimate holders of land where wildlife lives have rights of sustainable use over the species, parts, and their derivatives.
Under this law, wildlife species are defined as "Organisms that subsist and are subject to processes of natural evolution and that develop freely in their habitat, including their minor populations and individuals that are under the control of humans and wild populations as well.
The Federal Attorney's Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) is the administrative authority overseeing environmental law compliance. Art 107 establishes that any person can file a complaint for any damages caused to wildlife or its habitat.
In addition, the 2008 amendment to this law prohibited the use of wild animals in circuses.
General Law of Ecologic Balance and Environmental Protection (1988). (Ley General de Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente (LGEEPA)). This law focuses on the sustainable use of the environment and wildlife and the preservation and restoration of ecosystems. It seeks to protect the national biodiversity and establish and manage protected areas. It establishes that to protect and sustainably use the flora and fauna, it is important, among other things, to encourage the dignified and respectful treatment of animals to avoid cruelty against them. Moreover, it establishes that it is the duty of the federal government, the states, and the municipalities within their respective power to regulate the dignified and respectful treatment of animals (arts 78-79). The regulation of this treatment must be based on the following principles:
- Provide animals with enough water and food in order to keep them healthy.
- Provide animals with an adequate environment for their rest, movement, and space according to the species.
- Provide animals with adequate veterinary care and, in case of illness, provide prompt veterinary treatment.
- Allow animals to express their natural behavior.
- Provide animals with adequate treatment and conditions to guarantee their well-being.
Finally, Article 159 Bis 3 establishes that every person shall have the right to request that the Secretariat, the States, the Federal District, and the Municipalities provide them with environmental information. This article defines environmental information as any written, visual, or database information available to environmental authorities concerning water, air, ground, flora, fauna, and natural resources in general, as well as information about activities or measures that may affect them. It requires that requests for environmental information be submitted in writing, specifying the information being requested and the reasons for the request.
To facilitate the exercise of this right, Article 159 Bis 5 mandates that environmental authorities respond in writing to information requests within a twenty-day timeframe from receiving such requests. Additionally, Article 159 Bis mandates the Secretariat to establish a National Environmental and Natural Resources Information System.
C. Farm Animals
Mexico does not have any legislation pertaining to the welfare standards of farm animals during the rearing phase. Even though there are manuals of good practices, these are not mandatory.
Official Norm 051 contains provisions covering the transportation and handling of farm animals after they have left the rearing facility, and Official Norm 033 regulates slaughter methods in slaughterhouses. Both laws seek to diminish animal suffering after the animals leave the farm. However, they do not require the training of personnel, and these laws are seldom enforced. (Isabel Franco, “Retos en la defensa legal de animales en granja,” Igualdad Animal Mexico, 2023).
Federal Law for Beekeeping (2021). This federal law applies to the entire territory of Mexico. It serves as a comprehensive framework for treating and protecting bees, encompassing all activities related to this vital species, explicitly designating apiculture (or beekeeping) as a prioritized activity of public interest. The objectives of this law extend beyond the aforementioned points:
- Recognizing Bees as Priority Species: The law aims to acknowledge bees as a species of paramount importance in biodiversity preservation, highlighting the need for their protection.
- Promoting Education and Awareness: An essential aspect of this legislation is promoting education and awareness regarding the importance of respecting, caring for, protecting, conserving, and fostering a deep appreciation for bees.
- Equal Status with Livestock: The law seeks to elevate their status to the same level as cattle. Consequently, stealing bees would be considered a rustling crime under the Federal Penal Code.
- Recognizing Honey's Nutritional Value: The law also aims to establish honey as a perfect food, recognizing its exceptional nutritional properties. It advocates for honey to be considered an essential component of a balanced diet to safeguard the health of society.
Furthermore, this law contains provisions to enhance the regulation and support of apiculture, including the rights and obligations of beekeepers; it creates the National Council of the Beekeeping Product System, outlines the responsibilities and attributions of relevant authorities, and sets forth specific standards, reporting procedures, and licensing requirements for various aspects of beekeeping, including the establishment of apiaries, the movement of hives or their products, and other relevant activities.
The Federal Law of Animal Health (2007). (Ley Federal de Sanidad Animal). This law establishes the foundation for diagnosing, preventing, controlling, and eradicating zoonotic diseases. Defines animal welfare and outlines best practices related to livestock, among other things. This law defines animal welfare as the Set of activities aimed at providing animals comfort, tranquility, protection, and safety during rearing, maintenance, exploitation, transport, and slaughter.
V. Relevant Jurisprudence
VI. Relevant state legislation and jurisprudence
The scope and implementation of animal protection vary across states. In general, all the states have enacted anti-cruelty laws, but this has created a patchwork of laws ranging from states with with irrisory administrative penalties, states with exemplary criminal penalties, and even states recognizing animals as sentient beings. Most states have implemented popular complaints, or “denuncia popular” in Spanish, as the legal mechanism by which individuals and public and private institutions can file animal cruelty complaints. Even though laws to protect animals are in place in all states, the country presents similar issues in the implementation of such laws to other countries in the Latin American region. For instance, many states such as Aguas Calientes, Hidalgo, Chiapas, and Zacatecas, still allow bullfighting. In addition, other activities involving animals as entertainment that are inherently cruel, suchs as “charreadas,” cockfighting, hunting, and fishing are allowed in many states as well.
Despite the fact that all states have enacted anti-cruelty laws, statistics show that animal cruelty is still prevalent in the country, and the report numbers are still very low. For instance, in 2020, the Superior Court of Justice in Veracruz reported only three animal cruelty cases. Hidalgo reported eleven, Guanajuato three, and Morelos four. In the meanwhile, states such as Oaxaca and Southern Baja California had no reports (Effectiveness of Animal Abuse Penalization in Mexico (Article in Spanish) AnimalNaturalis, 2021). Furthermore, it was only in 2022 that a court in Mexico rendered its first-ever guilty verdict in an animal cruelty case. It was the case of Athos and Tango, two working dogs that were poisoned by a neighbor in the state of Queretaro. In this landmark decision, the court sentenced the defendant to 10 years of imprisonment and a $2.4 million Mexican pesos fine (approx. USD $13,500) as reparation.
Bullfighting is another important issue. This cruel practice is prohibited in only five states (Coahuila, Sonora, Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Quintana Roo). Currently, bullfighting, cockfighting, and similar practices are considered exceptions to the duty to respect animals in the criminal code of eight states (Baja California, Campeche, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Queretaro, Puebla, and Zacatecas). Finally, in Mexico City, it is temporarily suspended while a case on the issue is decided by a federal judge.
The following five states help illustrate the current state of animal protection at the state level and also show the legal diversity and lack of uniformity in this topic in terms of legislative and jurisprudential development on animal law issues.
A. Mexico City
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and stands as the largest and most important in the country. Mexico City has been considered a federative entity since 2016. It has novel measures when it comes to the legal treatment of animals. For instance, it recognizes animals and sentient beings in its constitution, as well as the rights of nature. It is the only federative entity that has an animal anti-cruelty squad, better known as the “animal surveillance brigade,” or “Brigada de Vigilancia Animal.” Its laws also regulate educational programs about animal protection and the prevention of animal cruelty. Mexico City stands apart from the other federal entities due to its unique status as a city-state, which grants it certain level autonomy and sovereignty. Through the enactment of a decree, on January 29, 2016, the city became the thirty-second federal entity in the country, leaving behind its status of a federal district. This change was accompanied by the adoption of a new constitution that recognized animals as sentient beings in 2017 and a set of new laws that would particularly benefit animals. For instance, the animal protection law of Mexico City is different from other animal protection laws in the country due to the many reforms it has been subject to in recent years. Unlike the rest of the federal entities, where municipalities undertake animal protection matters, in Mexico City, it is the central government (as opposed to its “alcaldias”) that is in charge of animal protection in its territory.
The Constitution, established in 2017, is the most recently adopted in the country. This constitution sets forth the rights and duties of the local government, and the rights of the city's residents. Importantly, it recognizes animals as sentient beings in Article 13(b), which also establishes that animals must be treated with dignity. This article further imposes the ethical duty and legal obligation to respect animals’ life and integrity. Under this article, the authorities have the duty to guarantee animal protection, well-being, and dignified and respectful treatment.
Animal cruelty against any animal has been considered a crime Under the Criminal Code of Mexico City since 2014. Chapter IV contains the provisions regarding the crimes committed by acts of cruelty or mistreatment against non-human animals. Article 350 BIS states that "whoever intentionally mistreats or cruelly acts against an animal of any species causing injury, damage, or alteration in their health will face penalties of one to three years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from three hundred to five hundred times the Units of Measure and Update." In addition, intentional acts of cruelty or mistreatment that cause the death of an animal will phase imprisonment for a period ranging from two to six years and a fine equivalent to six hundred to twelve hundred times the Units of Measure and Update.
The penalties will be increased by up to two-thirds in those cases where methods that cause serious suffering to the animal are used prior to the death.
Methods that cause serious suffering are understood as all those that lead to non-immediate death and prolong the animal's agony. Using an animal for sexual purposes is punishable with one to three years in prison and five hundred to a thousand times the Units of Measure and Update.
Enhanced Penalties: The sanctions stipulated in this article shall be subject to a one-half increase if, in addition to the acts mentioned above, the individual responsible or any other person captures visual evidence with the purpose of publicly disseminating these acts through any means. The same increase applies to the killing of a companion animal for purposes of human consumption.
Other articles in this code concerning animals include Article 54. 76, 226 BIS, and 226 TER.
This law seeks to protect animals, ensure their welfare, and provide attention, good treatment, maintenance, lodging, natural development, and health. Furthermore, it aims to avoid mistreatment, cruelty, suffering, bestiality, and deformation of their physical characteristics, as well as to ensure animal health, public health, and the five freedoms of the animal.
Some of the most important provisions of this law are the following:
Under article 4.II, the word animal is defined as “A non-human living being, multicellular, sentient, conscious, made up of different tissues, with a specialized nervous system that allows it to move and react in coordination with stimuli.”
Animal welfare is defined as “The state in which the animal's health, behavioral, and physiological needs are satisfied in the face of changes in its environment, which is generally imposed by humans.”
Cruelty is defined as a “Brutal, sadistic, or zoophilic act against any animal, whether by direct action or due to negligence.”
Mistreatment is defined as “any fact, act, or omission of the human being that can cause pain or suffering, affect animal welfare, endanger the life of the animal, or seriously affect its health, as well as their overexploitation.”
The term “pet” is defined as a “specimen of a domestic or wild species used as company and recreation for the human being.” Suffering is the “lack of animal welfare caused by various reasons that put the health, integrity, or life of the animal at risk.”
This law also establishes the responsibilities of citizens towards animals as well as the responsibilities to companion animals in articles 4 and 4 BIS 1. The duties and competencies of different authorities, such as monitoring and enforcing the law on the part of the major, health secretary, the secretary of citizen safety, the duties of the ombudsperson, civic judges, care centers for dogs and cats, and veterinary clinics. Chapter VI, articles 20-22 talk about the promotion of a culture of animal protection, which is based on respect towards animals which is grounded on the provisions outlined in this law regarding dignified and respectful treatment.
Chapter VII contains the provisions regarding the dignified and respectful treatment of animals. It establishes the duty to provide all animals with dignified and respectful treatment and lists examples of actions considered cruel or mistreatment. Article 24 Bis establishes that a person who executes cruel conduct, mistreatment, injury, or torture against an animal will be obligated to repair the damage under the terms established in the city’s civil code and criminal code. Such reparation will also consist of veterinary attention, medicine, and surgical intervention.
Article 25 contains the prohibitions regarding the treatment of animals. Some of them include:
a) the execution of shows where there is a fight between animals, making an animal ingest alcoholic beverages or supply drugs without therapeutic or therapeutic purposes.
b) the use and transit of animal-drawn vehicles on paved roads and for purposes other than agricultural use.
c) the use of animals in the celebration of rituals and traditional uses that may affect the well-being of the animal and Permanently tying or chaining animals.
In addition, article 33 requires prior government authorization for the possession of a wild animal as a pet. Articles 34 -34 QUINTUS contain the provisions regarding assistance dogs. Some of the obligations of the owners of service dogs include:
a) Taking the animal to veterinary check-up appointments at least three times a year or as many times as required.
b) providing Internal and external deworming every six months or earlier, if necessary, administering the corresponding vaccination and dental cleaning.
c) providing the dog with the hygienic and aesthetic attention it requires and keeping it brushed.
In addition, this article states that “All Assistance Dogs, regardless of their sex, must be sterilized.” Articles 44 -25 BIS contain provisions for animal transportation, and articles 46-49 concern the use of animals in laboratories.
Reports of animal mistreatment or violation of this law may be filed by any person before the secretary of health and citizen safety, the agency of animal Attention, the ombudsperson’s office, or mayors as it corresponds. Chapter CX talks about injunctions when there is an imminent risk or danger for an animal.
Finally, The sanctions imposed under Chapter X of this law range from admonitions and monetary fines to arrests of up-to- 36 hours in the case of repeat offenders. This law stipulates the standards and regulations for the functioning of the Animal Surveillance Brigade, which is responsible for preventing animal cruelty, responding to reports of animal cruelty, and providing care to animals in need.
Mexico City's Environmental Law for the Protection of Land (2000). (Ley Ambiental de Protección a la Tierra en la Ciudad De México)
This law seeks, among other things, to preserve and restore the ecological balance, as well as prevent environmental damage, so that economic benefits and social activities are generated in a sustainable development scheme.
Article 2.V establishes that one of the cases in which this law applies is the conservation, protection, and preservation of flora and fauna under the jurisdiction of the Federal District. In addition, Article 4.IV deems the prevention and control of environmental pollution in the air, water, and soil, along with the protection, restoration, and responsible utilization of vital natural elements and habitats essential for preserving and promoting biodiversity, as matters of public utility.
Constitutional Law of Human Rights and its Guarantees (2019). (Ley Constitucional de Derechos Humanos y sus Garantías de la Ciudad de México)
This 2019 law is a secondary law that regulates the application of the constitutional mandate that the Mexico City government guarantees the fulfillment of the more than fifty fundamental rights established in the Constitution.
This law addresses the issue of animal protection, specifically in Article 95. Article 95 states that animal protection shall be guaranteed in the broadest way to provide a livable city and seek people's fulfillment of the right to a healthy environment. Even though the focus of this article is human-centric and not the well-being of animals per se, it provides a list of eleven important principles tailored around the protection of animals and their interests. Some of these principles include:
- Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives.
- The use of animals for exploitation purposes and any other that could cause them harm will be expressly prohibited.
- Every animal must receive attention, care, protection, adequate food, veterinary attention, and restful rest.
- Every animal belonging to a wild species has the right to live and reproduce freely in its own natural environment, terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic.
- Every animal belonging to a species that traditionally live in a human environment that is not detrimental to the health of the latter and other living beings has the right to live and grow at the pace and in conditions of life and freedom that are of their kind.
- Every animal that the human being has chosen as his company has the right to have the duration of its life be in accordance with its natural longevity unless it suffers from a disease or alteration that seriously compromises its well-being.
- Shelters for the care of abandoned animals will be created, promoting an adoption culture.
Mexico City has a much more progressive legal system compared to other states in Mexico. They recognized animals as sentient beings in the constitution, typify animal cruelty as a crime in the criminal code, have an animal protection squad, and even recognize certain rights of animals in order to protect the right of humans to a healthy environment, for example the right of wild animals to live and reproduce freely in their own natural environment, or the right of companion animals to not be killed or to live for the time expected of their particular species (Constitutional Law of Human Rights and its Guarantees, Art 95). Despite this progressiveness, the legal development concerning animals still focuses on the rights and interests of humans, which means that often times, animals’ sentience and interest are ignored because they are found to have less weight.
Furthermore, to reiterate this point, the law has left a number of animals outside of this protective frame, establishing exceptions to the duty of animal protection, giving more weight to the interests of humans in activities such as bullfighting, cockfighting, and dog races. Moreover, Mexico City has considerably high numbers on animal cruelty but very few reports, as per the numbers of the general attorney’s office, the Ombudsman’s office, and the animal protection squad of the Secretary of Citizens Safety. Showing that the animal protection laws are inapplicable. For instance, The General Attorney’s office reported that in 2020, 165 animal cruelty were reported, and the Superior Court of Justice of Mexico City reported 9 cases (Resultados Investigación de Maltrato Animal (2019-2020) de Ciudad de México, AnimaNaturalis, Mexico.
Queretaro is one of the 32 Mexican federal unities and one of the smallest. It is a historical city, located in the middle of the country. Queretaro has laws in place to protect animals, such as the Animal Protection Law and provisions within the Criminal Code.
Queretaro has one of the strongest penalties for animal cruelty, which is up to 7 years of imprisonment. However, according to the AnimaNaturalis report for 2019-2020, only 69 investigations were undertaken during this period. These low numbers reflect the law of reports and implementation of existing laws. This penalty is increased from 12 months to two years for those who commit acts of cruelty against the same animals, causing them injuries.
Criminal Code of Queretaro (1987). (Código Penal para el Estado de Querétaro)
Queretaro's Criminal Code was enacted in 1987. Articles 189 – 190 TER regulate the crime of rustling and imposes up to 16 years of imprisonment on whoever commits this crime. Title VII talks about crimes against the environment and animals. Article 246-D BIS imposes 6 to 12 months of jail time to those who, with or without intention, commit acts of mistreatment against domestic animals or wild animals, causing them injuries, together with monetary fines and 90 days of community work. However, if any of the conducts mentioned above endangers the life of the animal or the functioning of their vital organs, the punishment imposed will be increased to up to 4 years, monetary fines, and 150 days of community work; whereas, if the animal dies the punishment will of up to 7 years, monetary fines, and 1000 days to improve daily coexistence.
One noteworthy aspect of this state is that even though the penalties imposed are some of the higher ones in the country, the law does not define welfare, cruelty, or mistreatment. Moreover, this code does not proscribe actions such as neglect, abandonment, or sexual conduct towards animals.
Queretaro's Animal Protection Statute (2009). (Ley de Protección Animal del Estado de Querétaro)
This law seeks to guarantee dignified and respectful treatment for all animal species. As stated in Article 1, its primary objectives include:
- The regulation of the possession, procreation, development, use, transportation, and slaughter of species, populations, and animal specimens in the state.
- To implement compliance with the State's environmental policy regarding wildlife and biotic resources
- To promote a culture of protection and respect for nature.
Article 2 establishes governing principles. Under this article, animals have the right to live and be respected. Humans may not exterminate, mistreat, or exploit animals or make them carry out work beyond those that they can execute due to their species' characteristics, Every animal belonging to a wild species must live freely in its natural environment and reproduce. Every animal that humans have chosen as a companion should have their lifespan respected in accordance with its natural longevity, and any act that involves the unnecessary death of an animal shall be punished under this Law.
This law establishes policy regarding wildlife, creates a State Subsystem of Information on Domestic Wildlife (Article 19), establishes policy regarding domestic animals, the parameters for sustenance hunting, and for the slaughter of animals for consumption or commercialization. It also contains provisions regarding animal transportation, animal-drawn vehicles, draft and riding animals, animal experimentation, and animals used for public entertainment.
Article 37 encompasses behaviors classified as cruelty towards animals, which involve both acts and omissions that are unnecessary and result in harm to the animal's health, physical integrity, natural instincts, development, and growth. It includes a non-exhaustive list of 22 of such cruel actions.
Chapter X of Title II encompasses the regulations pertaining to lost and abandoned animals, which are classified as abandoned personal property subject to impoundment by municipal authorities. These authorities are required to maintain trained and well-equipped personnel who must treat animals with respect. Owners are granted a three-day window to reclaim their animals, with the possibility of a three-day extension, during which they must cover the expenses accrued by the shelter for the care and treatment of the animal.
This law establishes authority vested in both the Secretariat of Sustainable Development and municipal governments. Furthermore, it introduces a procedure for citizens to file reports, which can also be filed anonymously. It grants municipalities the ability to conduct inspections and monitor compliance, and establishes a range of safety measures, which allows the authorities to temporarily keep wildlife and temporarily or permanently shut down businesses.
The administrative sanctions to address violations are in Article 107 and are the following:
- Written warning from the authority
- Administrative fines
- Administrative arrest for up to thirty-six hours
- Confiscation and euthanization of wild specimens.
Chiapas is the only state in Mexico that has yet to establish animal cruelty as a criminal offense. Chiapas has instead enacted the Wildlife Protection Law, which The Wildlife Protection Law in the State of Chiapas primarily emphasizes the protection and responsible use of "fauna" to ensure the welfare of both wild and domestic animals. Noteworthy provisions of this law include the prohibition of circuses, animal fighting, and the use of animals for teaching purposes and experiments at all educational levels throughout the state, except for higher education levels when such practices are necessary for their educational objectives. This law also defines "animal cruelty" as suffering, torture, or mistreatment. The remaining provisions in this law address the humane sacrifice of animals. (AnimaNaturalis, Atlas del Maltrato Animal, Estado de Chiapas, 2021).
Chiapas has a law on wildlife protection that was enacted in 1995.
This southwestern state is the smallest of the Mexican states. In 2022, Tlaxcala joined the vast list of states in Mexico that punish animal cruelty as a criminal offense. Before that, this state only had an animal protection law that was enacted in 2019.
Tlaxcala’s Criminal Code
In 2022, Decreto No. 160 modified the Criminal Code by adding Title XX, “Of the Crimes Committed Against Animals.” it has only one title: “Crimes Against the Life, Integrity, and Dignity of Animals,” which comprises articles 435, 436, 437, 438, 439, 440, 441, and 442.
Article 435 considers acts of mistreatment and animal cruelty:
- Unjustifiably causing the death of an animal;
- Killing an animal using methods other than those established in official Mexican standards or depriving an animal of life using any means that causes excessive or unnecessary suffering or prolongs its agony;
- Any mutilation, injury, or permanent mark for non-medical purposes;
- Inflicting injuries that endanger the life of an animal, that generate permanent partial or total disability, that reduce any of its faculties, or that affect the normal functioning of an organ or member;
- Causing the ingestion or application of any toxic substance or object that endangers the life of an animal or causes its death;
- Depriving an animal of air, light, food, water, space, mobility, medical care, or adequate shelter appropriate to its species, with the purpose of causing harm;
- Abandoning an animal or neglecting it for prolonged periods that compromise its well-being or
- Inciting animals to attack each other or being neglectful when the animals' aggressiveness or physical power could potentially result in harm or death.
Under this modification, animal cruelty is punishable with imprisonment ranging from six months to five years. If the injuries inflicted on the animal put the animal's life at risk, the punishment will be increased by half.
If the animal dies as a result of the cruel behavior, the penalty will imprisonment from two to four years, and if the methods utilized caused excessive or unnecessary suffering or prologue the animal’s agony, the punishment will be increased by half.
Sexual conduct with vertebrate animals is punishable with jailtime ranging from six months to two years. Dog fighting is also proscribed as a criminal offense.
Lastly, under Article 497, certain exemptions apply, such as the death of an animal resulting from cultural activities, the death or mutilation of an animal considered a pest, justified death or mutilation of an animal under the care and supervision of a specialist, marking or shoeing of vertebrate animals for the purpose of distinguishing livestock, and the slaughter of animals for human consumption in accordance with Norm NOM-033-SAG/ZOO-2014.
With this amendment, the state takes a step toward enhancing animal protection. The next steps should focus on implementing this law, Investing in training government employees, and promoting awareness and education about animal cruelty laws and their implications within the state. Through these efforts, trust in a government capable of conducting investigations into animal cruelty and enforcing sanctions will encourage citizens to report such cases.
Tlaxcala’s Animal Protection and Welfare Statute (2019). (Ley de Protección y Bienestar Animal)
This law seeks to promote animal welfare by providing proper care, suitable living conditions, fostering their natural development, and maintaining their health. It also seeks to protect their natural behavior, guaranteeing public health. Article 3, IV defines animal as a “Multicellular living being with a developed nervous system, which feels and moves voluntarily or by instinct.” It includes various definitions, but it does not define animal cruelty.
According to this law, both the state and municipalities possess the authority to govern aspects related to animal protection and welfare. Specifically, the Secretariat of Agricultural Development oversees matters concerning animals used for consumption and working animals, the Secretariat of Health is responsible for public health issues related to animals, and the Secretariat of Education oversees matters pertaining to animal protection and welfare.
Among its guiding principles, this law emphasizes that animals are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, suffering, and stress, thus entitling them to the right to life and respect. Those responsible for animals in their care must ensure their protection and well-being. Additionally, the law mandates that animal “tutors” or owners consider the specific characteristics of their species to reasonably limit work demands in terms of time and intensity and receive adequate food, veterinary care, and necessary rest to ensure their well-being. Furthermore, the law outlines general provisions applicable to various entities, including businesses, Zoonosis centers, wildlife handling units, Centers for Wildlife Conservation and Research, and facilities for the Rehabilitation of Wild Animals.
Other aspects addressed in this law include the welfare of animals during transportation (arts 60-76), the welfare of animals in the stream of commerce (Arts. 77-83), the handling of animals in teaching and investigation (arts. 96-115), Handling practices regarding companion animals (arts 116-123), the exhibition of animals (arts 124-132), animals use in tourism (Art 133), slaughter and euthanasia (Arts 140-146).
Finally, with respect to the enforcement, inspections, and sanctions, article 149 establishes the “popular complaint” as the mechanism to report any form of animal cruelty to the relevant municipal authority. As for the inspection and enforcement of the law, Article 153 designates the Secretariat of Agricultural Development as the authorized authority responsible for overseeing and monitoring these matters.
It's worth noting that the concept of "popular complaints" is defined in Title Six, Chapter VII of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA) as a social participation instrument. Through popular complaints, authorities gain awareness of actions, events, or omissions that result in ecological imbalances or environmental harm.
Regarding administrative sanctions, Article 157 outlines the available mechanisms, which include issuing written reprimands, imposing administrative fines, implementing administrative arrests lasting up to 36 hours, and authorizing the confiscation of animals related to the violation.