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Passions run deep when it comes to four-legged friends

Our furry, four-legged friends have had quite a year here in Pahrump and all of Nye County.

Unfortunately, a lot of what has made these pages hasn’t always been good for Fido and Whiskers.

That is to say that the humans have been screwing up a lot lately, to say the least.

For me, it started in February when Nye County Animal Control removed 67 dogs and some cats out of a home in Tonopah. The pictures were horrific, with the dogs living in filth.

A Pahrump woman is currently going through the court system on animal cruelty charges after she allegedly kidnapped a neighbor’s dog and shot it, before telling her 15-year-old son to finish the job. The dog’s crime, according to the defendant, was that it ate one of her ducklings.

There are too many other stories to discuss in detail here, but with every one of these stories there is an outpouring of sympathy for the animals and, oftentimes, outrage at the people involved.

But sometimes we humans also do right by our furry neighbors.

A Pahrump courtroom was the scene Nov. 5 of the first conviction in Nevada under Cooney’s Law.

George Papania, a dog breeder with ties to Pahrump, was convicted of two felony animal cruelty charges, the first trial conviction in Nevada. He was charged with two counts of willfully and maliciously torturing or unjustifiably maiming, mutilating or killing the dogs.

According to courtroom testimony, Papania left the dogs to fend for themselves without proper food or water in Pahrump when he moved to Las Vegas.

He faces four years in prison when sentenced in January.

Papania was found guilty under the new law enacted in Oct. 1, 2011 following approval by the Nevada Legislature.

The law was named after a dog that was mutilated by its owner in 2010 in Reno.

Animal advocate Gina Greisen told Pahrump Valley Times reporter Selwyn Harris that the conviction should send a strong message.

“He never admitted to what he did though and it was everyone else’s fault but his,” she said. “These dogs, in my opinion, were nothing but a paycheck for him.”

Of course, we’ve had many dog-bites-man stories too, some very serious.

All this is happening while the county is weighing various requests for zone changes, use permits and other requests for more animals on property, different types of animals and what the animals can be used for with the public.

This doesn’t include trying to find funding for the county animal shelter and various nonprofits working to fill that void.

I have covered various municipalities in my career and I’ve never seen so many, and varied, animal issues come before government officials. And the passion runs deep on both sides of various issues.

Anytime we print a story involving animals, which seems more and more lately, the article is one of the most read and most commented on online or by email. In Pahrump, it is one step below local politics when it comes to arousing passion in the reader.

Opponents sometimes express concern about noise when an animal-based business wishes to expand, or concern about and animals getting loose and posing a danger to residents.

When I was the editor in Boulder City, I spent an afternoon with the animal control office. One of the books they had on their counter was a collection of animal abuse photos. Horrific photos of some animals malnourished, others abused for seemingly nothing more than sport. I don’t understand people sometimes.

I’m not a pet owner myself, or an animal lover. I don’t own a cat. I don’t particularly like dogs. In fact, they make me nervous, no matter how small. I was bit near my eye when I was a child. And when the neighbor’s dog yaps at 2 a.m., well, my thoughts are less than pure.

I’m not one who views animals on the same level as people, but I will acknowledge they play an important role in millions of people’s lives.

Who knows, if I spend enough years staring at computer and iPhone screens, I may need a canine friend myself.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times. Contact him at aknightly@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @KnightlyGrind

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