What Happens to the Dog?

When a dog bite occurs in New Mexico, the incident should be fully investigated by a your local animal control agency. Animal Control officers will make a short-term and a long-term recommendation.

Short-term measures usually call for the dog to be quarantined for a number of days, often at home. During this time, the animal must be confined within a building, or else in an enclosed outdoor area that will keep the animal in and keep people (especially children) out. When out in public, the dog must be restrained by a leash and controlled by a responsible adult.

If home quarantine is not an option, offending dogs are taken to a designated animal control facility. Animals with a history of violent behavior can be subject to harsher long-term penalties that can range from completion of obedience training up to and including euthanasia, in extreme cases.

While financial compensation for dog bite victims is provided for through civil law, punishment of the owner is secured through criminal law. In some cases, a “dangerous dog hearing” is convened and the victim might be invited to attend. If this happens to you, you should contact an attorney before attending because these proceeding can compromise the victim’s rights, albeit unintentionally.

Local laws control Animal Control in New Mexico. For example in Sante Fe County the following ordinance controls:


A. The owner of an animal that bites a person and the person
bitten by an animal shall both report that occurrence
to an Animal Control Officer within twenty-four (24)
hours of the occurrence. The owner of an animal that
bites a person shall surrender said animal to an Animal
Control Officer to impound said animal for a period of
observation deemed reasonably necessary by the
Animal Control Officer. A vaccinated animal may be
confined on its owner’s premises during this time of
B. The owner of the animal shall bear the cost of confinement.
The A.C.O. may consent to confinement on the
owner’s premises, but only if the owner can produce
evidence of a current rabies vaccination at the time the
bite was inflicted. The premises where the home confinement
is to occur shall be inspected and approved for
such purposes by the A.C.O. A person who has custody
of an animal that has bitten a person shall immediately
notify the Animal Control Officer, if the animal shows
signs of sickness, or abnormal behavior.
C. A physician who renders treatment to a person bitten by
an animal shall report the fact that he has rendered such
treatment to an Animal Control Officer within
twenty-four (24) hours of his first professional attendance
to the bite wound. The physician shall report the
name, sex, and address of the person bitten as well as
the type and location of the bite. The physician shall
give the name and address of the owner or the animal
that inflicted the bite, if known, and other facts that may
assist the Animal Control Officer in ascertaining the
immunization status of the animal.