New Mexico lawmaker wants abuse of pets to count as domestic abuse

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – When someone gets violent with their child, spouse or even an in-law, it’s called domestic abuse. One lawmaker wants pets to be in that same category.

The representative wants the courts to recognize hurting a household member’s pet as a form of domestic abuse.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Christine Trujillo of Albuquerque.

The existing Family Violence Protection Act helps domestic abuse victims particularly with getting restraining orders. Things like stalking and harassment by household members are considered domestic abuse.

Trujillo’s bill would add killing, injuring or threatening to harm a pet to the list.

“Offenders are so caught up in their own environment,” she said. “They’re controlling their own territory and, in my opinion, they think that the victim is a territorial piece. And they use the creature, the pet, as a way to abuse them further.”

Trujillo said a recent incident in Albuquerque is an example of why this bill is important.

John Santiago is accused of burning and beating his ex-girlfriend’s dog so badly, the Pomeranian had to be euthanized.

If the law passes and someone were to kill or injure an animal, they would still be prosecuted under the existing animal abuse statute. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor. Extreme animal cruelty is a felony.

Trujillo is also sponsoring a bill to let judges in divorce cases decide who gets the couple’s pet.

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