Garcia v. The Village of Tijeras

767 P.2d 355, 108 N.M. 116 (1988)

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Garcia v. The Village of Tijeras

New Mexico Court of Appeals
767 P.2d 355, 108 N.M. 116 (1988)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

In 1984 the village of Tijeras (the village) (defendant) passed an ordinance prohibiting residents from possessing a dog known as an American Pit Bull Terrier. The ordinance provided that the dog would be destroyed upon a court determination that the dog was an American Pit Bull Terrier. The village passed the ordinance in response to American Pit Bull Terriers attacking residents and other animals. Melvin L. Garcia, Raymond A. Sanchez, David J. Wilson, and Margaret H. Amacker (collectively, the dog owners) (plaintiffs), all of whom owned dogs registered or classified as American Pit Bull Terriers, sued the village. The dog owners argued that the ordinance violated their due-process rights because (1) the phrase in the ordinance “known as American Bull Terriers” was unconstitutionally vague, particularly for individuals who owned mixed-breed dogs; (2) banning only one type of dog breed had no rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose; (3) the owners were not provided with an opportunity to be heard; and (4) by destroying residents’ dogs, the government was taking private property without compensation. The trial court heard evidence that the average person was able to identify an American Pit Bull Terrier and that the American Pit Bull Terrier breed had a stronger propensity for vicious and aggressive behavior than other breeds. The trial court upheld the constitutionality of the ordinance. The dog owners appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bivins, J.)

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