Animal cruelty is the infliction of pain, suffering, or death on animals for purposes other than self-defense or survival. It can take many forms, such as physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, illegal trade, or sexual exploitation.
Animal cruelty is not only a moral issue, but also a public health and safety concern, as it can be linked to other forms of violence, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, and criminal behavior.
In Mexico, animal cruelty is a widespread and serious problem that affects millions of animals every year. According to the Environmental and Territorial Order Prosecutor (PAOT), from 2008 to 2017, there were 4,078 cases involving dogs, cats, birds, and other animals reported in Mexico City alone. The municipalities with more reports were Iztapalapa, Gustavo A. Madero, Cuauhtémoc, Benito Juárez, and Coyoacán. The number of reports mentioning dogs increased 7,112% by passing from 16 cases in 2008 to a total of 1,154 in 2017. Cats also suffered a significant increase of 1,000% in the same period.
The most common forms of animal cruelty in Mexico include mistreatment, torture, overcrowding, lack of food and water, isolation, poisoning, shooting, burning, burying alive, dragging, chaining up without shelter, throwing into garbage dumps, or raping by their owners. These acts cause physical and psychological harm to the animals, such as injuries, infections, diseases, stress, fear, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (not to mention death).
Despite the severity of the situation, animal cruelty in Mexico is often ignored or tolerated by authorities and society. Although most of Mexico’s states and the Federal District have prohibitions against animal cruelty, the enforcement of these laws is weak and inconsistent. The maximum punishment for those convicted of animal cruelty in Mexico is two years in prison and a fine of up to $US2,000. However, if the animal is killed as a result of the abuse, the perpetrator can be jailed for up to four years. These penalties are rarely applied or are too lenient to deter future offenders.
Moreover, Mexico lacks a comprehensive and coherent animal welfare policy that covers all categories of animals and all aspects of their well-being. According to World Animal Protection, an international non-governmental organization that ranks countries based on their animal welfare standards, Mexico scored a C out of A-G in its Animal Protection Index, indicating that there are some animal protection laws in place but they are not adequate or effective. For example, Mexico has not formally recognized animal sentience in legislation, nor has it incorporated the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s animal welfare standards into law or policy.
Therefore, Mexico must take more action to prevent and punish animal cruelty, as well as to promote a culture of respect and compassion for animals. This requires not only stronger and more consistent laws and enforcement, but also more education and awareness among the public, especially among children and youth, who are the future guardians of animals. It also requires more support and collaboration from civil society, such as animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinarians, activists, and media, who play a vital role in exposing and denouncing cases of animal cruelty, as well as providing care and protection for the victims. By working together, we can make Mexico a safer and happier place for all animals.