Animal Legal Defense Fund Warns Against Dangerous Change To Animal Cruelty Law

Posted on November 21, 2012

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is urging New Mexico residents to tell the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners not to drop their historic local animal cruelty law. The Board, which meets to vote on the issue November 27, 2012, is under pressure to drop its cruelty law from Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI), which tests on dogs, primates, and other animals. This potential change to the law is being debated because LRRI’s property, which used to be located on federal land, now falls under Bernalillo County jurisdiction and Bernalillo’s local, stricter animal protection laws.

LRRI, which is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and in a rare instance has been cited and fined for breaking federal laws like the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), claims that federal laws are enough to protect Bernalillo County’s animals, including those in its laboratories. However, federal laws such as the AWA, which despite LRRI’s fine are virtually unenforced, do not adequately protect Bernalillo’s resident animals. 95% of animals in laboratories are not covered by the AWA. Bernalillo’s Animal Cruelty Ordinance, on the other hand, requires animals to be provided adequate food and water, space, and veterinary care. 

ALDF encourages the citizens of New Mexico to contact the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners and ask them not to change the law just to suit a disreputable laboratory. Painful tests at LRRI include forcing animals to inhale cigarette smoke and coal-burning exhaust. ALDF argues that if Bernalillo’s law is destroyed, animals in Bernalillo will lose significant legal protection and be placed in harm’s way at LRRI.

"Dropping a local cruelty law at the request of a business that performs cruel tests on animals would set a dangerous precedent across New Mexico," says Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "What message would it send if the government is to drop protection for animals when asked to do so by industries that stand to profit from their abuse?"

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