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Council head fakes on pet breeding vote

It may seem to some as ironic that, at the same meeting where the lead animal control officer for the city spoke passionately about animals being abandoned by their owners in the desert around Boulder City and in which the council made clear that they expect city staff to return with a proposal for mandating microchipping of pets, that the city council considered a bill to amend city code to allow for pet breeding and fostering of up to eight dogs on a property within city limits.

But life is sometimes ironic.

Both the microchipping discussion and the idea of allowing licensed breeders were considered initially at the behest of Councilmember Cokie Booth, who also had to disclose that she owns four dogs and would need to apply for a pet fancier permit if the bill was passed. City Attorney Brittany Walker advised her that this was not a conflict of interest.

Booth may or may not be currently breaking the law, which is less than clear but says that an individual can’t have more than three dogs or cats. It does not address households. Addressing the matter in an email, Booth said, “The way I look at it, is my husband has two dogs and I have two dogs. They are all small dogs that we adopted from other owners. We provide a loving home for them and reduce the public burden by caring for these animals in a manner that does not impact anyone else. I am strongly in favor of the fancier/foster permit because it would allow more animals to have loving homes in a manner that is not disruptive or burdensome to anyone else.”

City Manager Taylour Tedder explained further, saying, “Many individuals in this community have a small number of animals over the limit of three, that is exactly the issue this bill is looking to address. The bill would create a fancier/foster permit that would allow an individual to have more than three dogs or cats. Either individuals are animal lovers with homes with adequate space for having more than three dogs or cats, or individuals are seeking to foster dogs or cats and provide them with a loving temporary home until a permanent home can be found. The fancier/foster permit helps to address these scenarios and is available in essentially every other jurisdiction in Southern Nevada.”

By the time the discussion of the proposed bill began, the meeting had been going on for more than two-and-a-half hours. When Walker asked council members if they would like to discuss each of the three items (breeder and fancier/foster permits, fees for breeder or fancier/foster permits and other general clarification in the animal ordinance sections of city code), Mayor Joe Hardy replied, “Whatever you can do expeditiously would be appreciated.”

And things seemed destined to move along quickly. While members of the public spoke in favor of the ordinance when it was first brought up last year (in that same meeting, Animal Control Supervisor Ann Inabnitt spoke passionately against allowing breeding. saying of the glut of animals in shelters, “We can’t adopt our way out of this.”) This time around, there was no public left in the meeting to comment and Inabnitt was only called on to answer a single question about the number of animals allowed under the foster/fancier permit.

Hardy asked for a motion and Booth moved to accept the bill, which would change the city code, a motion that Hardy seconded.

Councilmember Sherri Jorgensen questioned the number of animals allowed under a fancier/foster permit.

“I know that, with the breeding, we put in a bunch of regulations as far as space needed to be able to have that many animals and how quickly they could adopt out and what needed to happen to them,” she said. “With fancier/foster, the only regulation is that you can have up to eight. There is no size of property requirement.”

Jorgensen continued, “I really have a concern with that number, to be honest. Yes, we want loving foster parents for our animals, but we want them to be able to be cared for, too.”

Jorgensen was not the only one with concerns. Councilmember Steve Walton also voiced concern with the amount of the fee associated with a breeder’s permit advocating that it be cut in half from the the proposed $500 annually.

With only four council members in attendance (Matt Fox was absent) and two of those having obvious misgivings about details of the proposed ordinance, it became obvious that the votes to pass were not there.

In the end, despite having already moved and seconded a motion to enact the proposed changes, the motions were amended and the item was tabled until the meeting scheduled for April 9.

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