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Bill would bar breed restrictions

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Some New Mexico communities would be barred from enacting restrictions on specific dog breeds under legislation the House passed on Monday.

It says counties and municipalities may not adopt an ordinance or rule “that regulates dogs in a manner that is specific to the breed of dog.”

House Bill 63 passed on a vote of 48-14, over the objections of lawmakers who said the state has no business telling communities what to do.

“I don’t think us folks in Santa Fe should handcuff the local governments,” said House Democratic Whip Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, the prohibition would not extend to a dozen so-called home rule municipalities.

Those include the state’s biggest cities: Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe.

Breed-specific ordinances are often aimed at restricting or banning pit bulls.

Animal rights activists and other critics say such regulations are ineffective and unjust, criminalizing dog owners and family pets based on what dogs look like, rather than their behavior.

And they say New Mexico’s law dealing with dangerous dogs protects the public.

Herrell, who has bred and shown dogs, said breed-specific ordinances “punish people that are really doing a good job with their animals.”

She told lawmakers there are two communities in New Mexico with such regulations.

Tijeras bans pit bulls, while Elephant Butte requires insurance and has other restrictions for pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds, she said.

House Bill 63 goes to the Senate.
— This article appeared on page C3 of the Albuquerque Journal

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