Mexico has high impunity rates for many crimes but residents of one municipality in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca have made it clear they won’t tolerate the consumption of grass.
Two sheep were locked up in the municipal jail in Santa Catarina Yosonotú for about 13 hours earlier this week after they were caught chowing down on the pasture of the grounds of a local shelter and school.
Members of the Santa Catarina community assembly decided to incarcerate the shameless sheep for the misdemeanor. The indigenous governing code known as usos y costumbres is used in the municipality, located 4 1/2 hours by car from Oaxaca city.
The owner of the sheep, who apparently took them to the grounds of the shelter/school to graze, was ordered to pay a fine in order to have her animals released but she said she didn’t have the money to do so. The sheep were nevertheless released on Tuesday, according to Santa Catarina Mayor José Aparicio Morales.
The owner, identified as Reyna Morales, had complained that her sheep weren’t given food or water while in the town lockup. She also said she wasn’t allowed to provide them with that sustenance.
The Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that it had opened an animal cruelty probe in connection with the animals’ incarceration.
Mayor Aparicio rejected any suggestion that the sheep were treated poorly, asserting that they were indeed given food and water.
According to Gerardo Martínez Ortega, an expert in indigenous law, many other animals have been imprisoned in Mexico because they were causing some kind of damage to their local communities. Among those that have spent time behind bars are turkeys, donkeys, goats, cattle and many other sheep.