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Pahrump man facing animal cruelty charges appears in court

The Pahrump man arrested on two counts of animal cruelty charges back in July was ordered to take a mental competency evaluation by Fifth District Court Judge Robert Lane during a Sept. 17 hearing.

Phillip Peng was arrested on an unrelated matter at his Idaho Street home on July 14, according to a sheriff’s office arrest report.

Nye County Sheriff’s Detective Morgan Dillon noted that while securing the property after Peng’s arrest, he and other deputies located a desert tortoise in a bucket full of water on the back porch of the residence, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The desert tortoise is considered an endangered species in Nevada.

Dillon, according to the release, observed that the water in the bucket was approximately seven to 10 inches deep, essentially imprisoning the creature.

“The tortoise could not get out,” Dillon said. “The water was deeper than the tortoise was tall, and the tortoise appeared to struggle to stay above the water.”

Additionally, once the tortoise was removed from the plastic bucket the report stated that deputies observed an approximate one-quarter-inch puncture in the animal’s rear shell, along with a second puncture hole several inches from the first.

“It appeared that another hole had attempted to be punctured in,” the report noted. “A long cord with a metal clasp at the end was secured to the porch near the back door and a metal ‘S’ hook was laying near the clasp.”

The report went on to state that the S-hook fit inside the hole of the animal’s shell and Peng actually told deputies that the tortoise was kept on a leash at the home.

The report stated “There was no shelter or burrow for the tortoise, and the leash kept it tethered so that it could only go partially out into the yard, but otherwise, it was confined to the open porch area.”

The tortoise was evaluated by a local veterinarian, who said the wounds in the creature’s shell created intense discomfort to the tortoise.

“The doctor stated that the hole in the animal’s shell appeared to be healed, but that it would have caused extreme pain to have the hole inserted, and for the injury to heal,” the report stated. “The doctor further stated that the depth of the water the tortoise was located in was too deep for it, and that the tortoise would have grown tired of trying to escape and would have eventually drowned had it been left in the bucket.”

Peng is facing two felony counts of animal cruelty.

It should be noted that the Mojave Desert tortoise is listed as a threatened species and as such, is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Nevada Administrative Code, (NAC 50.080).

Additionally, it is illegal to remove a desert tortoise from the wild without a special permit. It is also illegal to touch, harass, disturb or pick up a wild desert tortoise or disturb their burrows.

Following Peng’s upcoming competency evaluation, he is scheduled to return to court for a status check hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 29.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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