For the first time in Mexico’s history, a trial has been held for animal abuse after two Red Cross rescue dogs were fed poisoned sausages and subsequently died. The trial, which began Tuesday, included testimony from over 30 witnesses, including members of the national Red Cross and Querétaro’s Civil Protection agency.
The man accused of killing the dogs will be sentenced Friday and could be jailed for up to 18 years. The incident, which took place in June last year in Querétaro, was announced at the time by the Red Cross on a Facebook page dedicated to Athos. “There is no exact way to describe our pain, we have lost an unconditional partner, a specialist who dedicated his life to serving without ever asking for anything in return.”
Athos and Tango were the two dogs trained and cared for by members of the Red Cross, in particular two brothers, Isaac and Edgar Martínez, who testified at the trial. Athos, a border collie, rescued seven people trapped under rubble during the Sept. 19, 2017 earthquake that devastated parts of Mexico City and Oaxaca. He also took part in the rescue of a family of eight in Guatemala during the eruption of a volcano in 2018.
Tango, a terrier, was an emotional support animal that worked with families and children suffering from trauma and other mental disorders, as well as members of the Red Cross team themselves whose work can be emotionally taxing.
While a trial for the mistreatment of animals is unheard of, there is a growing movement in Mexico to protect and defend the lives of animals and prevent their abuse. Activists held signs outside the courtroom in support of justice for Athos and Tango and to encourage the public to respect animals.
According to the Animal Mistreatment Atlas, 60,000 animals die due to violence each year and only .01% of their killers are punished. Of the 2,511 cases opened between 2019 and 2020, there were only 155 people detained.