New Mexico’s state laws (the Criminal Code, the Livestock Code) establish a “blanket” disposition for all "livestock" (including domestic equines: horses, donkey, ponies, mules & hinnies).
The law allows the NM Livestock Board (NMLB) some discretion on disposition of estray equines. In Jan. 2019, the NMLB approved a process for ensuring equine shelters have the right of first refusal to accept these equines, before they would go to the highest auction bidder.
But for equines who are found running at large or seized from cruelty, the only option under state law is to sell them at auction (or to euthanize them). This too often results in putting these vulnerable equines right back into a dangerous situation.
Horses sold at auction are at risk of being purchased by so-called “kill-buyers” who sell them for slaughter across the border. Equine rescue facilities are then forced to incur additional costs to monitor and compete at auction to save equines and will later spend significant funds to rehabilitate and care for them until they can be adopted.
Senate Bill 271 will create equine-specific sections of the state laws that dictate the disposition of livestock in the custody of the New Mexico Livestock Board and other agencies—to ensure that state-registered equine rescues have the "right of first refusal" to receive homeless and abused equines in exchange of a fee covering the cost of care during their impoundment, before auction.
For more details, read our fact sheet.
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