January 19, 2021

New Mexico Benefits From Humane Conduct

Posted on 07. Apr, 2011 by Administrator in Social/Cultural

Elisabeth Jennings, Executive Director of Animal Protection of New Mexico and Animal Protection Voters

For decades, Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) and Animal Protection Voters (APV) have been examining and challenging the root causes of historic and widespread animal cruelty in the state, rolling up our sleeves and offering humane and workable solutions to communities. There are significant hurdles that lie between today’s reality and a brighter future for animals that depend on us for virtually every aspect of their well-being. To be sure, APNM and Animal Protection Voters work to see strong laws enacted and enforced in New Mexico. As Dr. Martin Luther King said in 1963, “It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.” Most New Mexicans uphold improved animal protection laws passed in recent years, knowing they protect people and animals. The incontrovertible link between animal cruelty and family violence makes crimes against animals a serious social welfare issue for our time.

Over a decade’s worth of animal cruelty cases have demonstrated that the state’s cruelty statute–not significantly upgraded since 1999–needs to clearly address conduct often treated as minor crimes today. We aim to ensure there are consequences for egregious and reckless acts against animals: starving a dog to death on the end of a chain; cutting off a puppy’s ears with scissors; letting dogs be eaten alive by maggots; abandoning a mother dog and her puppies to die of starvation; and neglecting and starving a horse to the point where her outgrown hooves force her to stand on gangrenous fetlocks, leading to muscle atrophy, constant pain and her death.

These are willful acts that caused unimaginable suffering and which most people could not stand to witness. All of these cases occurred in New Mexico, and all were considered to be the least serious kind under current state law. Senator Richard Martinez’s Senate Bill 348 and Representative Al Park’s House Bill 319, which were considered in the 2011 legislative session, would have further protected animals from cruelty like that described above, conduct that should be earnestly confronted. The bills also would have made the heinous crime of bestiality (sexually assaulting an animal) a fourth degree felony.

But changing the laws is not the entire answer. That’s why APNM provides program services that help people make kind and responsible choices so animals are given relief on the ground, where it matters. For example, APNM partnered to create a statewide Equine Protection Fund that provides temporary feed assistance for horses in families affected by an economic downturn, assistance for the costs of equine euthanasia and is currently planning its first low-cost gelding clinic. In just six years, APNM has subsidized over $80,000 worth of training to animal control officers across New Mexico, helping them obtain professional training essential to this important job, but which their communities often cannot afford. Further, APNM is working with the NM Department of Public Safety to train therapists to effectively treat those who are cruel to animals, as punishment alone is not an effective remedy. APNM’s website (www.apnm.org) has available a comprehensive list of statewide resources for those who are experiencing problems with animal issues, and those without internet service can call our hotline (1-505-265-2322, x29) for help. APNM offers bilingual resources on caring for companion animals, information on positive animal training methods and underwrites lessons about kindness and compassion for thousands of children across New Mexico.

We can celebrate that our state is full of creative, diligent and compassionate individuals: Those who work at or volunteer their time at local companion animal and equine shelters, who provide training and resources to animal guardians and who rescue and foster animals save lives, reduce the burden on taxpayers and truly make a difference every day. Advocates who push for better laws make a significant and positive mark as well. Most New Mexicans do care for their animals and go to lengths to treat them with respect and stewardship. But rare outliers commit unacceptable acts of cruelty and these cases cannot and should not be ignored. Animal Protection Voters urges New Mexicans to continue to support measures that appeal to our sense of decency and invoke our empathy for animals. The common theme from thousands of calls our hotline receives every year is that compassion and personal responsibility, combined with the will to make positive change happen, make our state a more humane place for everyone.

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