Spotlight Mexico: You Don't Have to Be a Lawyer to Affect Change
Almost every time anyone thinks about legislation, they think about reading complicated documents only lawyers can understand. But in reality, you don't have to be a lawyer to work to improve legislation that can make huge difference and positive changes in a community, and I am an example of that! Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of good news in regards to ensuring the creation and enforcement of laws for animal welfare and protection for in Mexico.
And today I'm happy to share some good news about animal welfare legislation in the state of Quintana Roo, an area that includes Playa del Carmen and Cozumel - two communities with International Fund for Animal Welfare projects, where IFAW has been working for the past year with key players in the development and improvement of laws to better protect animals. On March 2010, the Animal Welfare and Protection Law of the State of Quintana Roo was published. This law says that each municipality needs to write their own regulation for the Law during the 180 days after it was published.
Time passed by but now the municipality of Solidaridad (which affects Playa del Carmen) has completed their regulations. On September 27th all of the municipality’s government leaders voted to approve the new regulation by unanimous vote. Now this document only needs to be presented in the Official Municipal News Paper to make it official. With this regulation (and the creation of the State’s Agency in charge of the enforcement of the State’s Law), animals will not only be better legally protected but there will now be an established legal framework to apply to the State's Law penalizing cases of cruelty. In addition, it considers that the State will promote in all the instances, whether it be public or private, the acknowledgement of the ethical, cultural and environmental importance that Animal Welfare represents.
The promotion of Adequate Guardianship of dogs and cats (including spay and neuter), promotion of adoption, prohibition of mistreatment, and punishment of neglect are some of the most important considerations this regulation states. Joaquin de la Torre and I were not only present at the municipal meetings, we put hours and hours of research and thought into this legislation. We worked closely with the College of Veterinarians of the State of Quintana Roo, with whom we worked together providing technical arguments and advice, so that this regulation could really work to help animals, and not just look good in paper. This is a big step forward to change things in a positive way, still there is lots of work that needs to be done and the biggest challenge is to make sure that the laws and regulations are to be followed by educating the citizens and ensuring that when the laws are not followed the protection of animals will be enforced. So far this looks like there is hope on the horizon. -- EF