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Council adopts fancier permit

It started innocuously with a public comment about an issue not on the city council agenda at the end of a meeting more than a year ago as an aspiring dog-breeder addressed the council about the lack of a mechanism for her to get a city license.

Since then, it has been the subject of furious debate, substantial rancor as well as, for many, maddening delay.

And while the issue of breeding remains unresolved (for now), the for-a-time connected issue of allowing a permit for people claiming foster or fancier status to get a permit allowing them to have more animals than the three currently permitted under Boulder City (and Clark County) law was resolved this week as the council voted to establish a system for issuing fancier/foster permits.

After throwing around numbers for the better part of an hour, the council narrowly approved a fancier permit that would allow up to six animals with no requirement for any of them having been rescued or adopted and with the permit length being three years.

The vote Tuesday was 3-2 with Cokie Booth, Matt Fox and Mayor Joe Hardy in favor and Sherri Jorgensen and Steve Walton opposed.

Two observations: 1) Someone in the graphics department got the memo that this issue has been a PR debacle as illustrated by the multiple pictures of cute, sad-eyed puppies that adorned the margins of the official PowerPoint presentation by City Attorney Brittany Walker. 2) Walker advised Council member Booth, who has four dogs and, at the point the vote was taken, was not following Boulder City law, that Nevada law allowed her to discuss and vote on this matter anyway.

Booth, who initially opposed the breeding part of the issue but changed track when it was combined with a fancier/foster permit only to later say that she never wanted to see breeding in Boulder City, took extra care to emphasize that all of her dogs were adopted.

Walker noted in her introduction of the bill that the breeding and fancier/foster issues had originally been combined last year, again clarifying that Boulder City is not in compliance with Nevada law, which requires cities to regulate breeding, saying, “That is something I am still working on.”

However, a bill to allow breeding was introduced late in 2023, a business impact study was conducted and the whole matter came before the council several months ago and would have passed had it not been for a question from Mayor Pro Tempore Jorgensen about the number of pets allowed under the fancier/foster permit and a comment by Walton saying he thought the amount of the proposed fines for breaking the new law should be cut in half.

By all appearances, the issues were recently re-separated due to intense public outcry over the breeding issue. Walker all but confirmed that, saying that other changes were being worked on in separate bills.

“So that it’s more clear to the public and so each bill addresses one topic rather than putting it all in one,” she said and continued, “Because there are a lot of changes and different opinions on some of the changes.”

After noting the large differences between the number of pets allowed with and without a fancier permit in other Clark County jurisdictions, Walker noted that the proposed law would require that the applicant’s property be inspected and that an animal control officer could limit the number of animals allowed to less than what the law allows if the property is not found to be suitable for the larger number. She also noted that she and staff had not included that number in the bill and would be leaving that for the council to decide.

Still, there were amendments before discussion even began. Walker offered an amendment adding an appeal process should someone’s permit be denied or revoked. That ended up adopted.

Jorgensen’s amendment would have required additional animals allowed under the permit to have been adopted or rescued from a shelter or non-profit. It was not adopted.

Hardy offered a complicated formula under which a permitee could have even more animals than the permit allowed as long as they were rescues and, as an incentive, offered a three-year permit. The formula was thrown out and just the permit time made the final bill.

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