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Officials to reconsider dangerous dogs definition

The memories of several dog maulings that occurred in Pahrump within the last seven years are still fresh in the mind of Nye County Animal Control Officer Stephanie Zane.

Moved by the recent death of Kenneth Ford, who was viciously mauled by several pit bulls earlier this year, Zane proposed changing the definition of a dangerous dog in Nye County Title 6 at the last Nye County Animal Advisory Committee meeting. The change would involve eliminating an 18-month period within which a dog would have to bite a person on two occasions to be declared dangerous.

“My goal was and our whole department feels the same way, to remove that,” Zane said about an 18-month period. “There shouldn’t have to be two times. You know how your dog behaves and we should have zero tolerance.”

As it stands currently in Nye County Title 6, a dog is declared dangerous when on two separate occasions within 18 months, it behaves menacingly to a degree that would lead a reasonable person to defend himself or herself against substantial bodily harm when the dog is off the premises of its owner or keeper, or not confined in a cage, pen or vehicle.

Since Jan.1, 2014, Pahrump logged in 319 animal bites, 238 animal attacks and 2,371 animals running at large, according to the data provided by Nye County Animal Control.

In an eight-year period there were two human deaths by dogs. Most recently, a six-year-old boy was attacked by a pit bull when he was visiting his relatives in Pahrump.

In March 2015, Pahrump resident Kenneth Ford, 79, was mauled by a pack of pit bulls.

According to police records, three pit bulls jumped over a six-foot fence and started brutally attacking Ford. He died almost a month later at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.

“Had we had stricter law, (it) probably wouldn’t have happened,” Zane said about the attack.

While the owner of the dogs, Ricky Davidson, was jailed after the attack, Zane said Nye County Animal Control couldn’t do much because of the animal ordinance.

According to current regulations, a dog can be declared vicious only if without being provoked, it kills or inflicts substantial bodily harm upon a human being.

“We are probably the most lax county for dog ordinances. In other states, and I did months of research, if your dog snarls at somebody, they can deem it dangerous. You have to carry strict liability insurance. There’s tons of stuff, and us, 18 months, who cares, no big deal. You can’t deem it vicious until it kills somebody. (It) shouldn’t have to go that far,” she said.

Within the last four years, three dogs have been declared dangerous, according to Nye County Animal Control records. And although about 80 percent of the daily call volume is made up of calls about dogs running at large, the number of dog bites in Pahrump is “epidemic,” said another Nye County Animal Control officer, Susan Ryhal.

“Biting dogs, dogs running at large, why does it have to seriously hurt you or kill you to become vicious,” Ryhal said.

The proposed change has to get approved by Chief Deputy District Attorney for

Civil Division Marla Zlotek and the Nye County Board of Commissioners, but Zane said by getting this definition through, she hopes to preclude potential tragedies.

“And I’m sure the public, the majority of the public would be for it,” Zane said.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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