Carrying firewood is a donkey's role in Río Dulce and other Oaxaca communities.

Legal, public pressure frees donkey jailed for 72 hours

Animal rights groups united to procure the donkey’s freedom

A donkey has been freed from jail in San Sebastián Río Dulce, Oaxaca, after 72 hours behind bars through the efforts of an animal rights organizations.

The animal was arrested over the weekend for its owners’ inability to pay local taxes.

Pascual Cruz and Alejandra Mejía, both in their 80s, did not have the means to pay the taxes, which other residents have denounced as abusively high.

After hearing that the couple had been refused the right to tkae the donkey food and water during its detention, animal rights activists in the state united to file an animal cruelty case with the state Attorney General’s Office.

Public pressure and the legal approach prompted the municipality of Zimatlán de Álvarez, in which Río Dulce is located, to demand the animal’s return to its owners without their having to pay the taxes.

Oaxaca animal rights group president Hilda Toledo said that activists had planned on going to Río Dulce to protest but the town is considered dangerous and outsiders must solicit authorization to enter, so they chose the legal route.

In Oaxaca, the mistreatment of animals can carry a punishment of three months to two years in prison, as well as fines up to 100,000 pesos (US $5,000).

Authorities in Río Dulce have been criticized for imposing inordinately high taxes for many community services, such as fees as high as 30,000 pesos for burials in the local cemetery.

In May 2017, municipal agent Carmelo López denied a family the right to bury an elderly relative for five days until they paid a fee of 20,000 pesos.

Toledo said she and other activists will keep an eye on the situation in the coming days.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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