The measure creates a horse shelter rescue fund to be administered by the New Mexico Livestock Board.

New Mexico has 11 state-licensed shelters for equines, at least nine of which are active in rescue operations, said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection of New Mexico.

Her organization lobbied for the bill, which was carried by Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup.

Munoz says the primary financial feature of his legislation is an optional designation for personal income tax contributions for the rescue fund.

The new law also allows for gifts, grants and appropriations that would help shelters care for horses.

Jennings said approximately 350 horses live in New Mexico shelters. Many were abandoned. Others were wild animals that became sick or could not care for themselves.

Munoz said the shelter staffs stepped in, saving the horses from painful deaths.

Under his bill, the livestock board will establish rules for distribution of money from the rescue fund. Horse populations and the needs of each shelter are to guide the board in how it allocates money.