New Mexico Dog Law

Liability Doctrine

In New Mexico, there is no specific dog bite statute. However, lack of a strict liability statute does not mean that liability may not attach under other types of liability, such as negligence, nuisance, or willful misconduct of various kinds.

Definition of a Potentially Dangerous Dog

A potentially dangerous dog is a dog that may reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by:

  • causing injury to a person or domestic animal that is less severe than a serious injury
  • chasing or menacing a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner without provocation
  • acting in a highly aggressive manner within a fenced yard or enclosure and appearing able to jump out of the yard or enclosure

Definition of a Dangerous Dog

A dog is considered a "dangerous dog" if it caused serious injury to a person or domestic animal.

A dog will not be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous if it was:

  • responding to pain or injury
  • protecting itself or its offspring
  • protecting or defending a person or domestic animal from an attack

Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dog Owner Liability

An owner of a dog found to be dangerous or potentially dangerous must comply with registration and handling requirements within 30 days or have the dog humanely destroyed.

  • A dangerous or potentially dangerous dog must be kept under control at all times, have a proper enclosure, have a microchip implemented, and be licensed, among other things.
  • The dangerous dog will be maintained exclusively on the owner's property except for medical treatment or examination.
  • When the dangerous dog is removed from the owner's property, the dog shall be caged or muzzled and restrained with a lead no longer than four feet, and the dog shall be under complete control at all times.
  • A clearly visible warning sign with a conspicuous warning symbol indicating that there is a dangerous dog on the premises is posted where the dog is kept and is visible from a public roadway or from 50 feet, whichever is less.

An owner of a dangerous dog is guilty of

  • a 4th degree felony if their dog causes serious injury or death to a domestic animal
  • a 3rd degree felony if their dog causes serious injury to a person
  • a 3rd degree felony resulting in death if their dog causes death to a person

Vicious Dog Statute

It is unlawful for any person to keep any dog known to be vicious and liable to attack or injure humans, unless the dog is securely kept to prevent injury to any person. In addition to impoundment and possible destruction of the dog, the owner may be liable for violations of conditions of release of a dangerous dog and charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to first degree felonies.

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