70°F
weather icon Clear

Pahrump’s tigers saga reaches conclusion

A longstanding battle over tigers in the Pahrump Valley has finally reached a conclusion, with the Nye County Commission voting to grant local tiger owner Karl Mitchell’s appeal and reverse the denial of a Special Conditions Animal Permit.

Mitchell is now allowed to legally keep his 10 exotic cats at his valley home, located on Woodchips Road near the northwest edge of town. Special conditions were attached to that action however. Mitchell is restricted from exhibiting the tigers or transporting them for any reason other than medical care or in the event of an emergency.

In addition, when transporting them, Mitchell is required to provide Nye County Animal Control with 24 hours prior notice.

The appeal hearing was held during the Nye County Commission’s Tuesday, Feb. 19 meeting and included more than two hours of intense debate between Mitchell’s legal representation and members of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, which operates animal control.

There are two permits needed for someone to keep animals such as tigers in Pahrump. First is a Conditional Use Permit. The second is a Special Conditions Animal Permit.

Both of these permits for the tigers in question had originally been held by Kayla Mitchell, Karl’s attorney Arlette Newvine explained. However, Newvine added that delays involving inspections necessary for the renewal of Kayla’s permits in 2017 prompted Karl to apply for entirely new permits in his own name, with the intention of ensuring they remained in compliance.

Karl had successfully obtained a Conditional Use Permit for the tigers in Feb. 2018. At the same time, he applied for the second permit, the Special Conditions Animal Permit, Newvine explained.

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office then denied Karl’s application for the Special Conditions Animal Permit in July 2018, leading Mitchell to appeal that decision to the commission.

The sheriff’s office cited a series of reasons for denial, including a slew of allegations regarding exhibition of the tigers, which Karl is not authorized to do without first obtaining a USDA license for such activity.

In its denial letter, the sheriff’s office stated it had received complaints about the Mitchell’s exhibiting, both on their property and outside of it, providing photos of several people interacting with tigers.

The letter included details of an interview with a gentleman who stated he had paid Karl to bring a tiger cub to the Tropicana in Las Vegas, which the office deemed exhibiting.

The sheriff’s office also stated that Kayla’s Conditional Use Permit had expired so the couple was essentially in violation of the county’s code, another reason the office decided to deny the application.

Newvine argued fiercely against each of the sheriff’s points of reasoning, declaring that the sheriff’s office had failed to provide concrete evidence of exhibiting.

She backed up her statement by citing the fact that no charges had been filed against the Mitchells, either by Nye County, Clark County or the USDA.

She also asserted that the photographs the sheriff’s office had provided as evidence of exhibiting did not really constitute exhibiting, as they were either quite old or otherwise featured close friends of the Mitchells.

After each side had had its say, the decision was in the hands of the commission, which was divided in its opinion and only narrowly reached a conclusion.

Commissioner Donna Cox made the first move toward resolution, motioning to overturn the denial and issue Karl his Special Conditions Animal Permit.

Commissioner Leo Blundo seconded the motion but when put to a vote, it resulted in a deadlock of 2-2, with Cox and Blundo for, commissioners John Koenig and Debra Strickland against, and commissioner Lorinda Wichman absent.

Strickland then made a motion to deny the appeal, which Koenig seconded. That vote, too, resulted in the same tie. Strickland explained that her main concern was with transportation of the tigers and Blundo took that information in consideration to form yet another motion.

Blundo proposed to overturn the denial of the permit contingent upon adding special conditions. These include the restrictions on exhibiting and transporting the exotic felines as well as the requirement of advance notice of transport. That motion passed 3-1 with Koenig the sole voice against.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Nye County residents honored as Nevada heroes

Throughout the disruption and chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been everyday citizens doing incredible work to help their communities through these difficult times, giving countless hours and endless energy in the mission to keep people safe, healthy and connected and Nevada Health Response is striving to ensure those actions do not go unnoticed.

PVYA goes virtual for 2020

Pahrump Valley Youth Activities was nearly forced to forego its 2020 Summer Camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic but through a partnership with the NyE Communities Coalition, the beloved annual event has been saved and will now take place virtually, helping keep both participants and staff safe and healthy.

Nye County Commission meetings and certain offices reopen to public

On Tuesday, June 2, the Nye County Commission held its first meeting with in-person public attendance since early March, when the governor declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak and issued an emergency directive banning gatherings of more than 10 people.

Optimizing your freezer saves time and money

Freezing food saves time by reducing grocery store runs and money when you purchase sale items in quantity. Make the most of your investment by using your freezer to its full potential.

Pahrump’s Leslie Street freshly paved, county to tackle finish work

Leslie Street in the Pahrump Valley has a fresh new coat of asphalt, with paving of the 1-mile stretch between Irene Street and Basin Avenue concluding as of June 1. There is, however, still some finishing work to be done before the project is complete, tasks that, just as the prep work conducted before the paving was laid, will be handled by Nye County Public Works crews.

Three die in Inyo County crash

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews responded to several fatal vehicle crashes last weekend.

Ford warns against utility imposter scams

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on Friday advised Nevadans to watch out for utility imposter phone scams as local businesses reopen.

Sisolak approves plan for tests, labs, contact tracing

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday, June 1 announced the approval of a comprehensive community-based testing, laboratory analysis and contact tracing plan to support efforts to reopen Nevada’s economy.

Study shows record high rates of food insecurity

One in three children will experience food insecurity this year because of the COVID-19, according to the annual Map the Meal Gap study released Tuesday by Three Square Food Bank.