Mexico loves dogs. Photo: Getty

Lawmakers have approved jail time and fines for organizing dog fights or even attending a fight as a spectator. The law will be enacted as soon as it is published in the federal register, or the Diario Oficial de la Federación.

This is the first time that animal cruelty has been penalized in the federal criminal code. 

Humane Society International/Mexico has been pushing for this legislation, just given final approval by the Senate.

“We are grateful to our lawmakers for first banning, and now penalizing, dog fighting in Mexico,” said Anton Aguilar, executive director of Humane Society International. “For too long, countless dogs have suffered and society has deteriorated because dog fighting, and the criminal rings that surround it, have largely been left untouched by the Mexican legal system. Those days are over. Dog fighters beware – dog fighting is a criminal activity in Mexico and now anyone participating or supporting this cruel spectacle could face serious consequences under the law.”

HSI/Mexico launched an anti-dogfighting campaign last July. That included a petition for legislators to ban and penalize dog fighting in Mexico. In November, HSI presented the more than 200,000 signatures obtained supporting the petition.

By December, the lower chamber passed a reform of the federal criminal code penalizing various activities related to dog fighting, 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, Mexico’s Senate and the House of Representatives passed a reform of article 82 BIS 2 of the Ecological Equilibrium and Environment Protection General Law mandating that the Federation, the Federal States and Mexico City penalize the dog fighting within a year.

The victory comes after more than 40 local organizations helped the Humane Society add and keep up the pressure through letters, tweetstorms, and calls, according the organization’s blog.

“With their support, we reached out to the media, held six press conferences and dozens of interviews, wrote op-eds, and got hundreds of stories published on the importance of this reform,” wrote HSI’s president, Wayne Pacelle.