SANTA FE (KRQE) — It's a breed with a bit of a branding problem.
According to Animal Humane New Mexico, pit bulls are the second most popular breed in the state, but they're also one of the most controversial.
Last May, a Santa Fe man was killed at his home by his pet pit bull Achilles. Other fatal or near-fatal pit bull maulings over the years have given the breed a bad reputation.
In 2012, 61 percent of all fatal dog attacks were caused by pit bulls according to
dogsbite.org, a dog bite victim's advocacy group.
A number of cities across the country have breed specific legislation that imposes special restrictions on pit bull owners or bans the dogs altogether.
In New Mexico, the Village of Tijeras has a pit bull ban that's been on the books since the 1980's while Elephant Butte requires owners of pit bulls, Rottweilers or German Shepherds to register their dogs with the city.
"It unfairly separates one group of dog from another," said Dawn Glass with Animal Humane New Mexico. "The fact is, dogs of this type are very loyal, they're wonderful, they're just like any other dog, they're no different than any other dogs."
Glass says the problem isn't the dog, it's often times the owner.
Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell (R - Alamogordo) agrees with that idea and has prefiled a bill that would ban local governments in New Mexico from passing any sort of breed specific legislation.
"If we start regulating or singling out breeds of dogs then I believe that would start a domino effect and we'd start seeing other breeds of dogs added to the list," Herrell said in a phone interview.
But Colleen Lynn, founder of
dogsbite.org, says these types of breed specific laws are necessary for public safety.
"Pit bulls, unfortunately, were selectively bred to fight to the death in a pit," Lynn said in a phone interview. "If they choose to attack, it's going to be very serious and in many cases fatal."
Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (R - Sandia Park) drafted a bill for the last legislative session that would've put serious restrictions on owners of pit bulls, but after a wave of negative response from animal rights groups the bill was never introduced.
Beffort told KRQE News 13 Monday she would not attempt a similar bill this session.
Massachusetts has a similar law preventing local communities from implementing breed specific legislation.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.