In Mexico, the legal system has its origin in the Roman legal system, and as a result, we can find in our civil law the terms of person, ownership, civil and property rights.

People have rights and obligations, as well as ownership over things. What is not defined as a person is consequently a thing. This term included animals within the movable property without considering that they were living beings; much less this legal system would consider them to have rights since they are owned by persons.

In Mexico (until recently) only ambiguous protection of animals could be granted, as they were considered property of the people according to the Federal Civil Code, invoking the chapters of property damage of the criminal codes. Also, the Civil Code gives pets and farm animals the legal status of movable property, so they can even become seized or mortgaged.

In a general sense, Roman law generalizes that everything that exists in nature is a thing, except the human being. A “thing” is defined as any corporeal or disembodied being appropriable or inappropriable by man, perceptible or not by the senses, that occupies or not a physical space in nature.

Recently, thanks to citizen movements and new ideals that seek a better treatment towards animals, several State Laws have been approved in Mexico that protect animal life; or at least the States Governments have reformed their criminal codes to include crimes of animal cruelty. Animals cease to be classified as “things” to be “living beings endowed with sensitivity“.



Current Laws in Mexico

Today most of the States of the Mexican Republic have an Animal Protection Law (the State of Mexico and Oaxaca do not have them but have reformed their criminal codes), with different designated names by State but all of them protecting the life of domestic and/or wild animals.

For example, in the Law of Protection of Domestic Animals of the State of Baja California, acts of cruelty will be considered:

  1. “The death caused by using a mean that prolongs the agony of the animal, causing unnecessary suffering;
  2. Any mutilation, which is not carried out under the care of a veterinarian;
  3. Torture or mistreat of an animal due to malice, brutality, selfishness or gross negligence;
  4. All deprivation of air, light, food, drink, sufficient space or shelter in outdoors, as well as the provisioning or implementation of substances or ingestible or toxic objects, that cause or may cause harm to an animal;
  5. Neglecting the dwelling and the conditions of aeration, mobility, hygiene and shelter of an animal, to such a degree that it may cause thirst, insolation, considerable pain or seriously threaten their health, and
  6. Acts or omissions lacking a reasonable or legitimate reason, and that are capable of causing an animal, considerable pain or suffering, or that seriously affect their health or that of the community. “

The rules for this law provide that a fine of 10 to 30 times the daily value of the Unit of Measurement and Update will be imposed to the person who incurs in an act of cruelty mentioned in the previous paragraph.

You can look up the complete name designations of these laws and their content (in Spanish) at this website.

In addition, most of the states have already reformed their criminal codes to typify the crimes of zoophilia, mistreatment, animal cruelty and abandonment, punishing these crimes with fines and in some cases with years of prison.

For example, Section 420 of the Federal Criminal Code establishes a penalty of one to nine years in prison and for the equivalent of three hundred to three thousand days a fine to anyone who damages a wild, terrestrial or aquatic flora or fauna in a closed vein, considered endemic, threatened, in danger of extinction, subject to special protection or regulated by an international treaty to which Mexico is a party.

An important part about the inclusion in the criminal codes of crimes of animal abuse is the fact that, by punishing these acts committed against animals, the quality of life of both animals and society is improved, because stopping people who are violent with animals prevents them from escalating their dangerous behavior towards humans. The laws of animal protection are considered by many as indicators of an improvement in the civility and collective morality of a country.


The content of this website is not or should not be considered as legal advice, the information displayed is for informative purposes only.

Paulina Contreras

Paulina Contreras

Associate at GD Legal specialized in Immigration, Environmental, Corporate, Administrative and Intellectual Property Law.

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