Monday, October 7, 2013
Dear Friends of HSTJ,I want to take this opportunity to call your attention to a major breakthrough regarding the enforcement of animal cruelty laws in Tijuana. First, permit me to preface the good news by reminding our supporters that while there has been a long standing Baja California state law regarding animal cruelty, we had never been able to get any functionaries to enforce that law. Our complaints and requests were usually met with a response from public prosecutors that no case had ever come before a judge and the law had never been tested. Then we focused on getting some city level regulations. It worked. Last year we were a principal participant in getting Tijuana to adopt city regulations. However, we encountered the same as with the state regulations. We used these regulations when we approached offenders; however, no public official initiated legal action against those offenders. It was obvious that we needed to find a way to initiate the legal process ourselves. We needed to support an aggrieved individual to take action against another person for cruelty toward the aggrieved person’s animal. That would be the easiest type of case to start with. A more difficult case would be to show that we are the legal protector of an animal when the offender is the owner of the animal. In Mexico, it is a costly and cumbersome process when it is not your animal and public prosecutors are not involved. Nevertheless, it was necessary to get a case to court for a precedent so that the public prosecutors could no longer ignore complaints by using the excuse of having no precedent. Finally, in July 2013, three Mexican lawyers took a case pro bono. With the backing of HSTJ and other animal activists, a case was prosecuted and a precedent was set. Frontera, a Tijuana daily newspaper, carried the article on 17 July 2013. [ ref: copy of article by Angela Torres]
The article states that Maria Uscanga was found guilty of animal cruelty under the law by the municipal judge for her actions against two cats, one which she killed by strangulation and the other by putting it in a bag and slamming it against a wall. It further states that these cats were recently adopted by her neighbor and that she carried out these actions in front of her neighbor’s children. The sentence for this type of crime is 3 months up to 3 years in jail and bail set at 30 times the Mexican national minimum daily salary. The article emphasizes that this case gives notice to the public that animal cruelty laws exist and this case serves as a precedent to apply the law with the associated punishment.
THIS IS A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH FOR HSTJ AND ANYONE WANTING TO PROTECT THE ANIMALS UNDER THE LAW.
However, as I noted above, it is easier for HSTJ to assist an individual to take action against another when it involves the aggrieved person’s animal than to assist an animal where the animal’s owner is the offender. In such cases we have to maneuver through uncharted waters and get ourselves recognized as the protector of the animal. We cannot expect to have lawyers doing everything pro bono. Thus, to take advantage of the momentum we need to set money aside for legal action and that is money that we do not have unless we cut back on our clinics and rescue support.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING US BRING MORE ANIMAL CRUELTY CASES TO COURT, PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A SPECIAL DONATION SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE CHOICES BETWEEN STOPPING ANIMAL CRUELTY AND OFFERING CLINICS/ DOING RESCUES.
I will be meeting with some Mexican lawyers to discuss the process of setting up a legal advocate program and an associated budget so that we can bring more cases to court. Publicity about successful court outcomes will put offenders on notice and give the public reason to pause and examine their own behavior toward animals. Our ultimate objective is to show the city functionaries that it is possible to enforce these laws. We want them to step up to the plate and assign public prosecutors as they should.
Can our animals count on you for support?
Thank you for being a Friend of Humane Society de Tijuana.
President, Friends of Humane Society de Tijuana
Delegado Directivo, Humane Society de Tijuana