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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 116711
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My neighbor staying on his side of the fence, shot my dog 45

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My neighbor staying on his side of the fence, shot my dog 45 ft from the fence, into my property/yard. He shot him in the back. The dog dragged himself to the front of the house, I have pictures of clear drag marks, since we have very little grass. My neighbor then shot a second shot and hit the dog in the lungs where he collapsed and died. This was at night, with a flash light on the barrel of his rifle. My daughter, outside against her little camper, talking on the phone, saw the whole thing. My other daughter, coming around the back side of the house, heard the shot and went towards the front yard, where she just missed the shot, went towards the dog, and he died in her arms. His name was Happy, and he was a good dog. My neighbor says the dog was trying to get under the fence and get his sheep, which is not true at all. The DA only wants to press charges of animal cruelty. I think he should be charged with reckless endangerment, shooting towards a dwelling, and illegal use of a spot light at night also. I can tell that the DA has made some sort of deal with my neighbor's lawyer.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

The DA under NM law, is the sole determiner of what charges to bring. Thus, while you think that he should be charged with the reckless endangerment and illegal use of spotlight, that is wholly up to the DA by law and a citizen/victim cannot force the DA to charge anyone with any charge the DA does not want to charge. What you can do is two things.

First, you can meet with the DA and ask for those charges and inform him that the animals rights and victims rights groups might not be too happy that he is under charging this person. Second, you can complain to the victims rights and animals rights groups in your area for them to pressure the DA.

In reality though, even if they were to charge him with all of those charges, the court and DA would likely accept a plea agreement with the defendant to dismiss some charges in exchange for a guilty plea and the victim really does not have much say in plea agreements. That, unfortunately, is how the system works in reality.

Now, you can also sue the neighbor for the value of your dog, but because dogs under NM law are considered property, all you can recover from him is the actual value of the dog and possibly punitive damages for this being a willful and malicious act up to 3 times the value of the dog, but you could not sue for any emotional damages or non-pecuniary losses.

Legally, these are your rights and options under NM law.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I understand and you have helped tremendously. My husband and son were also in the house when the shot was made. They almost fired back with their rifles, but they weren't sure who actually shot. What would likely have happened if they would have shot the neighbor?

Thank you very much.

I understand your feelings about this and what the neighbor did was unconscionable and terrible, but sadly it still remains up to the DA's discretion.

If they would have shot the neighbor thinking that the neighbor was shooting at them (not at the dog) then they likely would have been either not charged or would have gotten off with self defense.
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