Sunday, March 1, 2009

NM to become a state where compassion reigns?

NM Governor urges passage of animal protection bills

By DEBORAH BAKER Associated Press Writer

The state's budget woes may be making it hard on the humans this legislative session, but advocates say it could be a banner year for animal protection.

The governor, the attorney general and some top legislative leaders implored lawmakers Friday to pass an array of bills ranging from getting rid of gas chambers to protecting pets in domestic violence situations.

"We've made great strides, but we have to continue to do more to protect our animals," Gov. Bill Richardson said at a news conference.

He urged lawmakers to act on the bills in the three weeks remaining in the legislative session.

The governor endorsed a bill creating an equine protection fund. It would accept money from public and private sources to help care for, or humanely dispose of, horses that are abandoned or given up.

"During these tough economic times, more and more people can no longer afford to care for their pets," especially horses, Richardson said.

He also touted a pair of proposals that prohibits euthanizing dogs and cats in gas chambers and allows lethal injection to be done by trained technicians, rather than requiring veterinarians.

And he put in a plug for legislation that limits when ranchers and farmers can kill wildlife on private land and provides a system for compensating them for crop losses.

A bill passed this week by the Senate tackles the problem some communities have faced when they had to shelter animals seized in cruelty cases.

It would allow police or animal control agencies to ask a judge to require the defendant to post a security deposit to pay for the animals' care while the case was pending.

Attorney General Gary King touted legislation that allows animals to be added to temporary domestic protection orders.

It means that pets would be removed — for their own protection — when domestic violence victims left home for a shelter, and cared for until the victims reclaimed them or decided where they should be placed.

King said animal protection laws makes New Mexico "the state where compassion reigns."

Another measure, passed by the House, would broaden the state's felony animal cruelty law, including making it a felony to deny food, water or shelter if it leads to great bodily harm or death.

If the bills are successful, it would be "the single greatest session for animal protection issues in the history of the state," said Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, sponsor of the felony animal cruelty expansion.


The equine fund bill is HB781. The wildlife bill is SB391. The felony animal cruelty bill is HB159. The animal indemnity bill is SB127. The domestic abuse bill is HB434. The euthanasia bill is HB265. The euthanasia technician bill is HB593.

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