By Mark Waite
Nye County commissioners wouldn’t make a motion to adopt changes to the animal control ordinance over concerns regarding limits on the number of animals, enforcement and exempting rural areas.
It was the second defeat for the animal advisory committee which has been working on revising the county code on animals for five years. County commissioners rejected a proposed bill in 2010.
“I’m not interested in supporting a bill that excludes any area of the county for any reason. Either we have an ordinance that covers everybody or we don’t have an ordinance,” Commissioner Joni Eastley said.
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman wanted to exclude areas outside of the unincorporated towns and where the population density is less than 50 homes per square mile. She had ridiculed the ordinance when it was brought up previously for not being applicable to farms and ranches, despite an exemption to bona fide agricultural operations.
Commissioner Butch Borasky said that would make it difficult to enforce. He suggested the town of Pahrump decide if it wants to enact an ordinance.
Borasky asked Nye County Animal Control Supervisor Tim McCarty if he had the budget to enforce the ordinance.
McCarty said, “We asked the animal advisory committee to give us something black and white, something we can work with in the field. This specifically will give us more gray area.”
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen didn’t like limiting Pahrump residents to five dogs and cats but not someone in Amargosa Valley. He had problems with requirements to keep living areas free of offensive odors. Schinhofen said he heard objections to a provision making it unlawful to deprive animals of sustenance, food or shelter, saying horse owners complained about being required to have shelters.
Commissioner Gary Hollis joked, “If this ordinance goes into effect the Bureau of Land Management will be in violation because wild horses don’t have any shelter.”
Schinhofen also voiced complaints he received that animal control officers could enter people’s property, but added that’s only if someone had a kennel license.
Nye County Commission candidate Frank Carbone, who in his campaign has advocated for more resources for animal control, asked if older animals could be grandfathered from licensing requirements. Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi said that would be possible.
Carbone was concerned it leaves out a lot of areas in the county, allowing them to have things like puppy mills. Eastley said excluding rural areas only excludes them from having to drive to the nearest town to license their dog.
Kunzi said towns have very limited powers under state statutes, like regulating livestock running at large or rabies control.
“Any provisions dealing with puppy breedings, animal cruelty and exotic animals and the numbers of animals you’re allowed to keep, would not be trumped by what the town ordinances say,” Kunzi said.
The town of Pahrump voted to remove its animal control ordinances to allow the Nye County ordinance, Kunzi said. But Eastley said the Beatty Town Advisory Board did not. Kunzi said the county commissioners are the governing board for the town of Beatty.
Borasky said there were calls to a previous animal control officer and nothing got done.
“It’s just like any ordinance, you’re going to enforce it on a few people and the rest of the people are going to slip through the cracks,” Borasky said.
Schinhofen said people still can’t have a dog that is on the loose biting people without a rabies shot. Much of that is in state law already, he said.
Steve Benson, a member of the animal advisory board said afterwards his committee will go back to the drawing board.
“We’re going to go back and figure out what we have to do and go back and correct what’s needed. We’re going to have to get it to where they’ll accept it,” Benson said. “Because right now, the ordinances they have don’t cut it.
“We need coverage of rabies, we need to know all those things and right now we have it sort of covered. Animals at large, we have animals we’re picking up every day we have no place to put them, spay and neuter, raising funds. We came up with the idea of having people pay $20 on a lot,” Benson said.
A lot of communities, small cities are making limits on the numbers of animals, he said.
“I would like to see ordinances that help all people in this community before it gets like Las Vegas,” Benson said.
He said not very many county commissioners have attended meetings in which the animal advisory committee worked out details of the revised ordinance over the past five years.