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Council talks dog licensing

When the subject of pets and the general welfare of animals comes up, it can make for passionate responses.

Such has been the case in Boulder City since the subject of possibly allowing pet breeding first came up in public comment in a meeting last year.

That passion can be super-charged by the increasingly online culture which often serves as a giant game of Telephone, with ideas that start as allegations soon being presented as though they were facts. After a couple of BC neighborhood Facebook groups began an organized letter-writing campaign to the city council opposing pet breeding, the Review heard allegations from some people regarding council members and decided to investigate. This is what we found.

Too many (and unlicensed) pets?

The allegation was that most of the members of the city council were keeping unlicensed pets.

Verdict: Mostly untrue

Council member Matt Fox did not respond to an email asking how many pets were in his home and if they were licensed. Mayor Joe Hardy and Councilmember Sherri Jorgensen do not have any pets currently. Councilmember Steve Walton has two dogs, one of which is licensed. The other, according to an email reply to the question, is a puppy who is not yet old enough to be spayed. Walton said that once the dog has been spayed, it will be licensed.

Council member Cokie Booth has, at the time of this writing, four dogs, a fact she has addressed in council discussions about the issue of breeding and a proposed companion ordinance to allow for a foster/fancier permit. None of Booth’s dogs are currently licensed. In an email reply to the question, she said, “My dogs have microchips, rabies tags, and all of their shots. But l do not have a license from Boulder City. It has been about three years. The reason is they don’t bill you (for renewal) once you get a license. You must remember to go back every year. Not an excuse, I just don’t remember to run in and pay for dog tag. I have talked to the city about billing once someone gets a dog tag.”

Conflict of interest ?

The allegation was that one of the council members vocally in favor of permitting some breeding in BC has a conflict because a family member wants to breed dogs.

Verdict: Unsupported (at best)

The allegation specifically targeted Walton. In an email, he said that, while he does have a family member with two dogs of the same breed, that they have no interest in breeding.

The impetus for the proposal also appears to be less sinister than the rumors allege.

In September of 2023, a member of the public addressed the council and asked that they consider allowing breeding. Walton said, “I asked the city attorney about dog breeding permits, and she notified me that Boulder City was not in compliance with state law, and that we (the city) would need to take the matter up to come into compliance with state law regarding dog breeding.”

The city attorney was referring to NRS 574.353, which says that every city council in the state “shall adopt an ordinance requiring each breeder in the incorporated area of the city to obtain an annual permit.” The code in Boulder City currently says that breeders must have a permit and a business license but provides no avenue for obtaining them.

Untangling the proposals

When the idea for adding both a breeding permit and a fancier/foster permit (which would allow someone to have more than the aggregate of three animals in a household as allowed currently) was brought up by city staff, both Walton and Booth, who have been the most vocal in their support for the measure, said that they were not in support of combining the two issues.

“I also suggested the topic of breeding be separated from the foster/fancier discussion because they are two distinct topics with different information,” Walton said. “I suggest splitting the conversation ‘in half’ for that reason.”

Booth was even more forceful. “I have never wanted to allow breeding. I did want to have a fancier permit. The city attorney told me that we needed a breeding ordinance and so I supported the combination. But I have never wanted and do not want to see any breeding in Boulder City.”

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