New Mexico's Pet Resource

Synopsis of the Felony Animal Cruelty Law


With the passage of SB35 in the 2001 legislative session, which amended the 1999 Felony Animal Cruelty Law to remove the current exemption for "research facilities, intermediate handlers, carriers and exhibitors", all animals excepting insects and reptiles are now protected under the law, with the exclusion of animal-related activities listed below. SB35 holds experimental laboratories to the same standards of care and treatment as individuals for acts of animal cruelty. This would offer much-needed protection for lab animals, for example to monkeys who have reportedly perished of thirst and hyperthermia at Alamogordo’s Coulston Foundation.

Exemptions to the law that remain in effect include hunting, fishing, trapping, falconry, veterinary medicine, rodent or pest control, the treatment of farm animals (when in accordance with accepted animal husbandry practices), rodeo practices, intermediate handlers, carriers and exhibitors, and related activities.

The new law makes extreme animal cruelty a fourth degree felony on the first offense, animal cruelty a misdemeanor on the first, second, and third offense, and a fourth degree felony on the fourth offense.

"Extreme animal cruelty" is legally defined as intentionally or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning an animal or maliciously killing an animal. "Animal cruelty" is negligently mistreating, injuring, killing without lawful justification or tormenting an animal, or abandoning or failing to provide necessary sustenance to an animal under that person's custody or control. In addition, juveniles involved in animal cruelty are now required to undergo psychological counseling and/or treatment, and persons convicted of animal cruelty can be ordered by the court to participate in animal cruelty prevention or education programs.

Peace officers can apply to courts to obtain warrants to seize animals who are suspected of being abused, and may also apply for a warrant to seize livestock if cruelty is suspected, according to the New Mexico Livestock Code.

Lastly, penalties have been increased for injuring police and fire service animals.

GO TO:   The New Mexico F. A. C. Legislation

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