UNM law students propose animal welfare court

Updated: 05/13/2014 2:12 PM | Created: 05/13/2014 1:28 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It's a connection that many people might not know about: 85 percent of women and 63 percent of children seeking shelter from domestic violence report animal abuse in the home.

For months now, UNM law students Laura Castille and Amber Macias-Mayo researched the issues and found a connection between animal abuse and domestic violence.

They found that many times in the cases they studied, animals had been used in domestic violence situations as a way to control their victims. They also found many of the suspects in those cases were never prosecuted for animal cruelty.

Macias-Mayo and Castille shared those findings with the State Bar of New Mexico.

"It's not shocking enough to enforce and even prosecute people for acts of animal cruelty," Macias-Mayo said.

That's why the duo believes the Albuquerque metro needs an animal welfare court.

Tucson's Pima County has a specialty court that enforces animal cruelty laws to help protect families.

"It's not just trying to protect our dogs and cats and our home," Macias-Mayo said.

This specialty court would either sentence the suspect to jail or counseling that the suspect would have to pay for.

Macias-Mayo and Castille have learned local judges want to meet with the to talk about possibly bringing a similar court to the metro.

"I'm glad we had the idea and they have the knowledge to just get the discussion going," Macias-Mayo said.

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