Bill Would Expand Animal Cruelty Law In NM

New Mexico – A bill protecting animals from cruelty and abandonment is making its way through the New Mexico Senate.

Senate Bill 348 (SB348) sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez (D-Espanola) clarifies and expands the state's animal cruelty law to make it a fourth degree felony to recklessly mistreat, abandon or fail to provide sustenance to an animal, when death or serious harm to the animal occurs. "This is a very serious crime, and I hope that my colleagues will support this effort," Sen. Martinez said.

Prosecution of some animal cruelty cases has been hampered by the current wording of the law, making it hard to get convictions in some clear-cut and egregious cases of cruelty to animals. SB348 amends New Mexico's Animal Cruelty Statute to among other things; define "sustenance" as food, water and shelter, stipulate what constitutes "reckless" treatment of animals, and include captive reptiles in the scope of the law. The bill also mandates psychological counseling for those convicted of extreme cruelty to animals.

The link between cruelty to animals and violence to humans is well established according to the group Animal Protection Voters. "Our communities are safer and better places to live when our laws support keeping animals safe from harm," said Lisa Jennings, Executive Director of Animal Protection Voters.