Mexico City

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Country of Origin:  Mexico

Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and stands as the largest and most important city 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 embracing 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 a certain level of 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. 

Mexico City's Constitution

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.

Mexico City's Criminal Code

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.

Mexico City's Statute of Animal Protection

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, exists 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 supplying 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 per 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. This may show that the animal protection laws are unenforced. 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).

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