By Mark Waite
Revisions to Title 6 of the Nye County Code governing animal control have been worked on by the animal advisory committee for five years, but for the second time Tuesday, Nye County Commissioners rejected their proposals.
The first time was in 2010, Deputy District Attorney Marla Zlotek said the provisions wouldn’t apply to the town of Pahrump. The town repealed its animal control ordinance as a result.
Now the concern was over whether it should apply to rural areas, like Commissioner Lorinda Wichman’s ranch in northern Nye County.
But commissioners hinted it could be brought back for a vote in the near future.
“You’re imposing a financial hardship. You’re imposing a trip to town to do these things for these animals that is unnecessary. If we have a vicious dog in my area it takes 25 cents to get rid of him and that is the cost of a bullet,” Wichman said.
Commissioner Butch Borasky suggested approving the ordinance but excluding areas outside of Pahrump, Beatty, Tonopah, Round Mountain and Carvers. Commissioner Joni Eastley asked about including Ione, Belmont and Manhattan.
Scott Shoemaker, chairman of the Nye County Animal Advisory Committee, had concerns over taking away authority of animal control officers to cite the owner of a vicious dog in those rural areas.
“At that point we would probably call the trash collector,” Wichman said.
Eastley, who voted for the ordinance along with Commissioner Gary Hollis, said “I don’t see this as something we are doing to people, I see this in its whole as protections that we are offering the communities,” Eastley said. “If there’s a vicious dog and they’re in the middle of Pahrump or they’re in Currant Creek, why do the people in Currant Creek deserve less protections than the people here?”
John Bosta, from Amargosa Valley, objected to the ordinance.
“To me one of the things living in rural areas is, I listen to the dogs bark, the chickens, the roosters crow, there’s birds in the oleanders, that is the music of living in the rural area,” Bosta said.
But Eastley said he was missing an adjective, “excessive.”
“We’re not here to debate that, it’s up to every individual. There may be a person who thinks living next to 10 barking dogs is excessive. This gives them a mechanism to file a complaint,” she said.
Eastley said the ordinance would allow for appeals to the animal advisory board instead of justice court.
Zuzana Kukol, the owner of exotic animals, objected to a provision to microchip her animals. She also didn’t want to identify where she purchased her animals, in the section for special condition animals.
Jackie Casano, a newly-appointed member of the animal advisory committee, said, “whether you live in more of a city environment or in more of a rural environment, it really should not matter whether animals are properly cared for or not. Caring for an animal, it is what it is. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that living in a rural environment it’s all right to be dirty, it’s all right to have excessive barking.”
But Wichman said Nye County is an extremely diverse county with a vast amount of acreage.
“There are some things that are commonplace that are done in the rural communities that you would never have done if you were in a tight community like Pahrump. There are other communities that want the same ordinances for animal control but there are also lots of miles out there that do not,” Wichman said.
District Attorney Brian Kunzi told Wichman that representatives of other small communities had the opportunity to make their comments at the public hearing.
“If somebody is not caring for their animals, we need the teeth to enforce cruelty to animals even in a rural area,” Kunzi said.
Section 6.06.010 of the ordinance states: “the provision of licensing shall not apply to dogs or cats used in the operation of farms, ranches or other bona fide agriculture enterprises.”
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said he had problems with limiting people to five dogs.
Fees weren’t nailed down yet either with the revised ordinance. Eastley said she’s been contacted by people who want to know the fee for a residential kennel permit, since they have in excess of five dogs. Shoemaker said it’s $60.
“They’re inspected annually. This is just to make sure we don’t have situations that get out of control, like FLOCK or the woman who was killed by the dogs. Those are the types of situations we want to keep in check,” Shoemaker said.
Over 700 cats, many in deplorable condition, were removed from a residence occupied by For the Love of Cats and Kittens FLOCK in 2007 in a highly publicized incident.
Shoemaker said he received questions about why cats now had to be licensed. He said they have to have a rabies shot by state law, just like dogs.
Borasky said he disagreed with the ordinance because there’s no way Nye County Animal Control could go out and patrol the remote parts of the county.
Eastley asked, “Do you want to manage by your ability to provide services or do you want to manage by what the issue is?”