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Country of Origin:  Mexico

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:

  1. Unjustifiably causing the death of an animal;
  2. 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;
  3. Any mutilation, injury, or permanent mark for non-medical purposes;
  4. 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;
  5. Causing the ingestion or application of any toxic substance or object that endangers the life of an animal or causes its death;
  6. 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;
  7. Abandoning an animal or neglecting it for prolonged periods that compromise its well-being or
  8. 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 jail time 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 natural development, and maintaining 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), and 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.

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