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Nye officials to leave animal ordinance alone, for now

The embattled Nye County animal shelter may not close its doors as county commissioners said they will try to identify the funding source for the organization and consequently save ordinances from Title 6 of the Nye County Code from being cut.

A few dozen people packed the Nye County chambers on Monday afternoon as officials discussed how they can spare the 23 ordinances that would have to be eliminated in wake of the shelter closure.

Under a Nye County bill that was set to adjust animal control ordinances, certain chapters such as reporting of found animals, licensing or accepting abandoned animals could be removed from Title 6 of the Nye County Code.

“Most of these codes are being addressed because we couldn’t fund an animal shelter,” Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said. “The reason we are doing this is because we don’t have the animal shelter and a lot of these things will not apply, so we are trying to address that.

“Because we had budget issues, we had to look at everything that was not mandated by NRS, so we cut senior nutrition up north, we cut a multitude of things. This is one of the very last things we cut, that’s why we are here,” he said.

During one of the future meetings, officials said they will discuss whether a shelter is going to be run by each town or the county.

In the meantime, the fate of the county’s animal shelter is still unclear. Officials said they will try to identify the funding source within 60 days for the facility that has been able to limp along for the last few months thanks to numerous volunteers.

“Currently, right now, we are right at four grand out of my budget for people for the shelters,” Nye County Emergency Management Director Vance Payne said. “This is over and above, that was just for personnel.”

The board of county commissioners also requested the shelter submit its prior and projected expenses to determine how much money the facility is going to need.

While scores of Pahrump residents voiced their concerns over removing some codes and changing others, most agreed that officials shouldn’t close the shelter.

Pahrump resident Amy Nelson argued that commissioners shouldn’t be in charge of creating the codes and shouldn’t be responsible for permits, fees and appeals regarding those codes.

“I just have a big strong issue with that,” she said. “And it seems to be kind of a conflict of that much power into one government body.”

Another Pahrump resident, Peggy Sanders, wondered whether the issue was going to affect the local economy. According to the memo presented by Sanders to the board of commissioners, estimated sales tax revenue from dog and cat expenditures in Nye County is over $500,000 a year.

“It was stated to us that we can’t afford to continue this and my point was that all of our pets bring small businesses, large businesses, they support the economy,” she said. “And if you are trying to cut and limit, you are going to hurt the economy by limiting and making it harder for people to have their pets.”

In addition to possibly closing the shelter and eliminating or amending ordinances, officials had an option to disband an Animal Advisory Committee. Some officials however said that such a move would put an additional burden on the shoulders of the county commissioners.

“The shelter is needed,” Lorinda Wichman said. “And several have assumed in here while giving testimony that it was a community function, that it was a town function. It’s not a town function. It needs to be a town function, because it is your community that you are making these rules for or you are influencing these rules.”

“Even though we are a rural community, we do need some oversight, we do need some laws, we just don’t want to infringe on people’s constitutional rights,” Commissioner Donna Cox said. “As far as the town shelter goes, I’ve said for a long time, I think each town needs to pay for its own shelter because one reason we are having problems is we are the county and we are paying for all the town’s animals. … But Pahrump generates a lot of animals, and they are the ones that are feeling the poor shelter here and they are the reasons too that we don’t have a shelter.”

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