We Can’t Afford to Ignore Animal Cruelty
Recent Cases, Opinion Piece Draw Attention to Cruelty and Suffering
The July 31st edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News featured “Our View: Voter fraud: Animal cruelty laws should be strengthened.” Read the opinion piece below or online.
Can you speak up to help New Mexico’s animals? Simply print the opinion piece and mail to your state legislators, along with a personal note about why it is important to strengthen New Mexico’s animal cruelty laws. Now is a great time to meet with legislators about issues that matter to you as the state legislature is not in session. Click here to look up contact information for your State Representative and State Senator.
Animals count on you to speak
up for stronger protections.
Our View: Voter fraud: Animal cruelty laws
should be strengthened
The Las Cruces Sun-News
Frank McClung of Chaparral was arrested July 18 and charged with extreme animal cruelty for allegedly killing a 5-week-old kitten by throwing it "like a baseball" against a wooden post.
Sadly, it was just the latest example in a disturbing string of animal cruelty cases in Doña Ana County.
Richard Nelson McCord was arrested in January after allegedly killing a 4-month-old female border collie-mix by stepping on its neck for five minutes or longer. A witness said McCord had earlier grabbed the puppy by its neck, placed it against a fence and kicked it eight times until it quit yelping. The dead dog was wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the trash.
Earlier that month, three men were indicted in two separate cases. Marcos A. Sandoval Jr. allegedly neglected and malnourished his horse and dog to extreme conditions. Marcos Carmona and Moses Salido, of Chaparral, were charged with shooting three of their neighbor's dogs, because they were chasing a cat.
In Silver City, a three-legged bulldog named Trinity has become something of a poster pup for animal abuse. The dog, whose right hind leg had to be amputated because of abuse at the hands of former owner Phillip Narvaez, was brought to Santa Fe this past session in support of legislation that would have made "reckless mistreatment, abandonment or failure to nourish" an animal a fourth-degree felony. Those bills, HB 319 and SB 348, both died in committee without ever getting a hearing by the full House or Senate.
That's a shame.
Under current state law, a person who "negligently" harms or kills an animal — "mistreats, injures, kills without lawful justification or torments an animal or fails to provide necessary sustenance to an animal under that person's custody or control" — is subject to a misdemeanor charge. That means a mandatory court appearance, and if convicted, a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail, or both, although the typical sentence is much less than that.
It takes four negligence misdemeanor convictions for a person to be charged with fourth-degree felony animal cruelty, the lowest of the four levels of felony charges.
A person can kill, injure, torment or starve animals under their care four times before facing a penalty that carries any weight. A fourth-degree felony conviction carries a fine of $1,000 and/or a year in prison.
People who "intentionally" mistreat, maim or kill an animal can face "extreme animal cruelty" charges, which is also a fourth-degree felony.
Intentional cruelty is self-explanatory. Negligence is what results from a series of bad choices. Call it what you will; suffering by any name is still suffering.
The penalty for negligence should be a fourth-degree felony charge for first-time offenders, not the fourth conviction. The way to teach offenders to make different choices is to impose a penalty that will leave enough of a mark, if you will, to change the perpetrator's thought process.
And extreme animal cruelty, for which there is no excuse, should be no less than a third-degree felony, which carries a mandatory prison term of up to three years.
It's time for New Mexico to do what's right and overhaul the laws that are supposed to protect our animals.
Putting the Pieces Together to Fight Animal Cruelty
On August 1st, 2011, the Las Cruces Sun-News published another story of violent abuse to a puppy, “A Las Cruces man is in jail after police learned that the puppy he allegedly severely injured had to have a leg amputated.” The paper goes on to report the individual “is charged with one count of extreme cruelty to animals.”
Extreme cruelty to animals was made a 4th degree felony over 12 years ago. When law enforcement officers challenge animal abuse, they are working to keep animals and the public safe from violent people.
Seeing justice gained for the animals hurt and putting an end to the cycle of violence in these cases depends on many puzzle pieces fitting together. For this reason, the Department of Public Safety is hosting free, accredited trainings for law enforcement officers and therapists across the state. You can read more about APNM’s coordination of these important events in a recent eAlert.
But clearly, it is time for New Mexico to strengthen its animal cruelty law again. To ignore or dismiss extreme cruelty and extreme neglect to animals also endangers the health and safety of our communities.
Please write to your state legislators (remember you have one State Representative and one State Senator) about the importance of strengthening New Mexico’s animal cruelty laws. Together, we can build a more compassionate state.
Thank you for supporting Animal Protection Voters’ important work for animals!