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HB 159 EXPAND CRUELTY TO ANIMALS – Senate Judiciary Letter

March 11, 2009

Following is our recommended letter to the New Mexico Senate Judicary Committee regarding the subject bill. You are welcome to copy and paste and customize it for your own email or use it for talking points when calling the Senators. Don’t forget to contact your own Senator. You can locate your Senator at

Senate Judiciary Committee Contact Information:
Senator Cisco McSorley : Chair : : 505-986-4485
Senator Richard C. Martinez : Vice-Chair : : 505-986-4389
Senator Tim Eichenberg : Member : : 505-986-4859
Senator Clinton D. Harden : Member : : 505-986-4369
Senator Linda M. Lopez : Member : 505-986-4737
Senator Sander Rue : Member : : 505-986-4375
Senator John C. Ryan : Member : : 505-986-4373
Senator Bernadette M. Sanchez : Member : : 505-986-4267
Senator Michael S. Sanchez : Member : : 505-986-4727
Senator Peter Wirth : Member : : 505-986-4276
Senator William H. Payne : Ranking Member : : 505-986-4703

EMAIL TO:;;;;;;;;;

Dear Chairman and Members of the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee,

Many thanks for your service to our state!

I am writing because I am concerned about HB 159 Expand Cruelty To Animals, introduced by Representative Park. I am in support of Concerned New Mexico Animal Owners (CNMAO) position on the bill and oppose it until it is amended. Changes to existing law regarding the increased penalties and expansion of what is defined as cruelty to animals are generally good. However, I ask that the legislature address the issue of providing a framework for statewide interpretation of the exemption for “other commonly accepted activities not otherwise prohibited by law,” section H.(7). As worded, that exemption could easily result in inconsistent and overly constraining or broad interpretation throughout the state. Contrary to Special Counsel Suttle’s position, I do NOT believe this is an issue that should be left for the courts to have complete latitude to decide.

The state does have some problems with animal cruelty, but generally has a rich legacy of responsible animal use, some of which could be jeopardized by such nebulous language. I find Special Counsel Suttle’s position on section H.(7) to be inconsistent considering the “need” to define sustenance as food, water and shelter in section A.(6) and ignoring the other needs of animals (e.g., adequate space, exercise). And, the “need” to provide specific language regarding penalties for causing injury to an animal left in a car in section B.(5), which is actually an inadequate sustenance issue (i.e., inadequate shelter).

I understand Senator Clinton Harden has been approached to introduce an amendment that will address the noted concern. Consistent with CNMAO’s request, following is the amendment I respectfully request that you support for HB 159:

(H)The provisions of this section do not apply to:
(7) other commonly accepted activities not otherwise prohibited by law including husbandry, training and competition associated with use of animals in performance and working events or in activities including hunting, working, herding, guardianship, predator control and vermin control.

As I understand it, the specific items stated are NOT limiting language. When legislation states “including …” it is intended as examples (i.e. a framework) and not restricted exclusively to those activities.

It is my understanding the following additional organizations are in support of the above amendment: American Saluki Association, Coursing Conservancy (NM), National Animal Interest Alliance, New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, New Mexico Houndsmen’s Association, New Mexico Toy Group, Rio Grande Kennel Club, Saluki Club of America, Southwest Coursing Club (NM), United States Sportsmen’s Alliance and Valencia Valley Kennel Club of New Mexico, Inc.

Also, CNMAO estimates state sales tax revenues generated by expenditures for the care of dogs alone is over $40 million annually. That estimate excludes sales tax revenues generated at a county/city level. On that basis, in future legislative sessions, I respectfully suggest the legislature take up the proactive cause of providing more support for low cost voluntary sterilization programs, education programs and temporary financial assistance to animal owners in need to reduce the necessity for reactive punitive measures.

For more information, CNMAO’s current position on all 48 animal interest bills of the 2009 New Mexico Legislative Session can be found in the NM Legislative Updates category of the CNMAO blog (

Best regards,

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