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Breeding proposal breeds opposition

Judging by the number of people speaking out against it during public comment at the last city council meeting and the tone of numerous social media posts, the proposal to allow for licensed pet breeders to operate in Boulder City is itself breeding a growing opposition. And the opposition appears to be spilling over into other pet-centric issues, including the fact that, unlike anywhere else in Clark County, Boulder City does not require dogs to be on a leash in public.

What’s more, council members have changed their minds several times and city staff who have spoken passionately in the past on the issue appear now to be muzzled.

Back in June of 2023, Samantha Jenkins was the resident who first brought this subject up during public comment in a meeting. “Responsible, legal and lawful dog breeding is not to over-produce genetically inferior animals for financial gain,” she said. “Being a responsible breeder is a specialized hobby that requires legislation in the supporting jurisdiction.

“People love home-bred dogs because there are rules in place ensuring quality animals who do not have health issues, who have desired traits and are raised in a home environment that prepares animals to be loving, life-long best friends for children, families, veterans and all others.”

But then Ann Inabnitt, Boulder City animal control supervisor, stepped up to the mic for a reality check.

“The Animal Foundation (the main animal shelter in Las Vegas, formerly known as the Leid Animal Shelter) has instituted an eight-week wait to surrender your animal. So if you find out you’re losing your job and you have to take a job in another city and you have to leave right away, you have to wait eight weeks to get an appointment with the Animal Foundation to surrender your pet,” she explained.

“What does that mean for Boulder City?” she asked rhetorically. “Dumped dogs. We used to get two a year. We’re getting four a week now.”

Inabnitt continued on the subject of purebred dogs. “I have 10 dogs at the shelter now and eight of them were dumped into our community and, interestingly enough, seven of them are purebreds.”

City Attorney Brittany Walker noted that the proposed changes to city ordinances also envision allowing for what are known as fancier/foster permits which would allow residents, under certain circumstances, to keep more animals on their property than are currently allowed.

Back then, Councilmember Cokie Booth expressed zoning concerns and asked if it was possible to limit breeding and fostering permits to the “horse areas” of town, which have more space.

Walker noted that current regulations in Clark County allow for up to eight breeding dogs per property and Booth did the math figuring that, depending on the breed, that could be 80 or more puppies on a property.

“It seems to me like we just need to rein it in,” she said.

But, by November of 2023, tunes had changed. Booth, who says she has four dogs, while current city code only allows for three, supported the breeding proposal when it was coupled with a foster/fancier permit that would allow up to eight animals in a household. And by the time the council seemed set to approve the idea last month, Inabnitt was not asked to weigh in during council discussions beyond answering one question.

It appeared to be a done deal. Mayor Joe Hardy had asked for a motion to vote on the proposal; that proposal had been seconded and the vote called for when Sherri Jorgensen said she still had a concern. Why, she asked, did the breeding license come with requirements for minimum amounts of space per animal and the foster/fancier license had no qualifications beyond being able to pay for the license. At that point, Steve Walton, who earlier in the meeting made several references to a young puppy his family had acquired, said he would like to see the fine for violating the proposed law cut in half.

Rather than vote the motion down and allow for changes, the council opted to table it.

While there was no public outcry at that meeting, things changed in the next two weeks. While the council moved to table the proposal once again due to three members not being physically present (Walton, Booth and Jorgensen were all reportedly ill and participating via a phone connection), this time more than 20 people either addressed the council directly, sent written comments or called in. The tally on public support based on those comments? 10-1 against.

Meanwhile, social media groups with Boulder City in their names have been recruiting others opposed to allowing breeding and, in the process, also calling in to question the fact that Boulder City has no leash law. One of those groups has called for people to gather at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19 at Beer Zombies (567 Nevada Way) for what is being billed as a “get-together in support of the Boulder City Animal Shelter.” Inabnitt is being touted as the “guest of honor” and the agenda consists teaching people how to petition the city council in opposition to breeding permits as well as to mandate microchipping of pets and enacting a leash law.

As of now, there is no scheduled path forward. When asked when the proposal would come back before the council, city staff said it is not yet scheduled but might come up again in May.

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