The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department is advising its animal control officers to step up enforcement of a New Mexico state statute that outlines strict regulations for owners of vicious and/or dangerous dogs.
The move comes after an increase in reports throughout the county for unrestrained dogs that pose a threat to the public, including the May 23 attack on a Las Cruces man as he was walking his dog near Doña Ana Road.
The victim reportedly was out on his regular walk around 7:45 a.m. when two loose pit bulls became aggressive and attacked the victim and his dogs.
Both pit bulls were captured by Doña Ana County Animal Control officers and a City of Las Cruces Animal Control officer. Their owner surrendered custody of the dogs and they were euthanized at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley due to the extent of their injuries.
Currently, the law requires the owners of any breed of dog that is deemed to be potentially dangerous to have a permit. In order to receive a permit, owners must meet several requirements, including a current rabies vaccination and microchip, a proper enclosure for the dog and the owner must demonstrate they are able to keep the dog under control at all times.
“This is not an issue about pit bulls,” said Deputy Robyn Gojkovich, an investigator with the sheriff’s Animal Cruelty Task Force. “And it’s not targeted at the various breeds of potentially dangerous dogs, either. This is about public safety, and it starts with holding owners legally responsible for their dogs.”
Owners in violation of the requirements will be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
Any owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog that causes injury or death of a human being, without provocation, is subject to being charged with a third-degree felony.
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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department Public Information Communication Specialist Kelly Jameson at (575) 386-4302.