Nevada commissioners turn down revised animal ordinance

By MARK WAITE

Pahrump Valley Times
Oct. 06, 2006

Nye County Emergency Services Director Brent Jones and Nye County Animal Control Supervisor Debbie Pemberton said after this week’s rejection of an updated animal control ordinance that they didn’t have clear parameters when they started working on the ordinance.

They felt the guidelines under which they were working were too broad.

But they received plenty of “parameters” Tuesday morning from a variety of groups working with animals, ranging from a woman raising wolf hybrids to animal rescue groups to kennel operators to owners of exotic animals.

Nye County commissioners announced they were opposed to the ordinance before discussion even began.

“It seems like you’re trying to go from soup to nuts with this ordinance,” Commissioner Candice Trummell said.

But animal owners still had an opportunity to vent their feelings. Commissioners heard from residents with a who seemed to represent a whole Noah’s Ark of creatures.

The proposed ordinance addressed exotic animal regulations but also proposed stricter penalties for vicious dogs. It also attempted to eliminate some vagueness over definitions of kennel licensing, Jones said. He said the drafting of the ordinance began after concerns over exotic animals, then expanded to include other issues to take care of animal control in southern Nye County.

The emotion of the whole business gripped show breeder Robin Swan, who broke out in tears when she began describing how dogs in her kennel are well taken care of.

An animal control board would have been created to hear complaints under the proposal, which Commissioner Joni Eastley said would be bound by the Nevada Open Meetings Act since they’d be making decisions on animal disputes.

Yvonne Smith thought the ordinance would cover her sheep, originally given as a wedding present, but Commissioner Gary Hollis said livestock would have been exempted.

Kay Landweher said her cashmere goats would technically be considered “exotic” under the ordinance plan.

Garrett McCaslin, who owns some rodeo livestock, said Pahrump residents turned out in droves two years ago to shoot down proposed animal ownership restrictions in the master plan.

“We need to protect our rights. If we as animal owners don’t step up and let the government take over, we no longer have control,” McCaslin said. He said two rodeo companies in Pahrump generate considerable business in town.

Kelly Caracci, who has a sanctuary for wolf dogs, said animal sanctuaries are nonprofit organizations that barely keep their head above water through donations. They can’t afford to pay $250 permit fees for each animal plus liability insurance, Caracci said, adding that such a provision it would cost her $14,000 per year.

Veterinarian Dr. Suzanne Zervantian said she owns some exotic animals, including miniature deer and wallabies.

Speaking of the ordinance, Zervantian said, “It is poorly written, it contradicts itself in many areas, it is not based on the need of Nye County as a whole.” She added, “Exotic animals are no more of a safety issue than domestic animals.”

Then there were concerns over just plain dogs.

Helen Schneider, a member of the Pahrump Valley Obedience Club, said animal bites should be reported and dogs running at large taken care of, as required in the ordinance.

“But one of the things that gets us is the animals in the park prohibition. We happen to have had last month an AKC-sanctioned match. We did have dogs loose in the extent they were in the ring performing. Now if you pass this ordinance, with this it would mean we could no longer show our dogs in the town of Pahrump,” Schneider said.

Pemberton said some of the concerns expressed Tuesday concerned a proposed zoning ordinance on animal rescues and sanctuaries that will be heard Oct. 18. Diane Davis, who operates Dream Chaser Ranch horse rescue, said none of the new animal rescue operations could meet a requirement for a minimum 10-acre lot at today’s prices.

“You will be running any type of rescue of any type of animal out of town,” Davis said. She asked, “What will you do with the animals if you run the rescues out of town?”

Davis said there are three horse rescue operations in Pahrump.

“Why punish all of us for a few mistakes? I think we just need to be out there and monitor those that have done the mistakes. But we need education,” said Eileen Hart-Crawford, owner of K-9 Kastle Bed and Bone.

Trummell wanted animal control to identify concerns and list facts and figures to justify the reason for drafting a revised animal control ordinance. “Make sure we’re only regulating things that are a problem or potentially could be a problem,” she said.

Then there’s the continuing controversy over the barking dogs at an animal shelter on the northwest side. John Knapp, 2150 W. Cordova Place, said he put a fan next to his bed so he can sleep at night. “If I had someone in my neighborhood late at night banging on a garbage can or playing loud music, I could get the sheriff’s department to come out,” Knapp said. But when it comes to barking dogs, he explained, “They tell me to go to animal control. I leave a recorded message and that’s as far as it goes.”

Denise Davis, who works at the controversial kennel in question, New Leash on Life, said some owners let their dogs run at large rather than pay the $100 fine. She said she could be cited for anything under the penalties for excessive noise.

Charlene Anthony painted a pretty horrifying picture of the future.

“We have 60,000 houses being built, you’re going to have 50,000 people move in and 50,000 are going to bring their dogs and cats here and let them run,” she said.


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